Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

Quantum technologies – how to make quantum technologies a reality?


Technologies that exploit quantum phenomena like superposition and entanglement will be a radical departure from current technologies. Several promising directions are now well known, for instance in computation, communication, security, metrology, sensing, simulation and material science. Europe has the scientific lead in many of these, and some European companies were first to market with some concrete applications of quantum technologies (quantum key distribution in particular). Building on such successes is it not time to bridge from the science to the engineering of some more concrete quantum technologies? For example, are we close to delivering a quantum simulation technology, and if so what precisely will it simulate? Or can we start to concretise the necessary quantum-ware for large scale quantum networking? What about applications in biology and medicine?

What are we looking for?
•    What should be the orientation of research on this topic? As stated, do you feel it is too broad or, on the contrary, too narrow?
•    Have any recent scientific results been obtained relevant to this topic? Is there already a well-established community on this?
•    Do you know of related initiatives, for instance at national level, or in other continents?
•    What is needed at this point to advance this? More exploration of different ideas? More coordination among groups or related initiatives? A strong push for a precise technological target and, if so, which one? Anything else?

Background: Following the last FET consultation during 2012-13, 9 topics were identified as candidates for a FET Proactive. This topic has been selected in part for inclusion in the FET Work Programme for 2014-15. Comments are invited on whether this topic is still relevant, or if any changes would be necessary to take account of recent research results. We are also trying to understand better how to advance these areas.

To participate to the consultation:
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49 users have voted.


Antonio Puertas Gallardo's picture

Sophisticated recent experiments with ultrashort laser pulses support the idea that intuition-defying quantum interactions between molecules help plants, algae, and some bacteria efficiently gather light to fuel their growth.
Researchers flash laser pulses at the light-harvesting protein molecules of bacteria and algae, timed to within a billionth of a billionth of a second, then observe how the energized molecules re-emit light of different colors in the ensuing instants. This allows investigators to deduce how energy is stored by and moves among the molecules. But the results would be impossible to explain if captured light energy were conveyed by discrete entities moving randomly between molecules. Rather, the insights of quantum mechanics are needed.

5 users have voted.
Antonio Puertas Gallardo's picture

Quantum systems in Nature typically evolve according to local Hamiltonians,
and in particular, cooling such a system to low temperature" allows the system to relax
into its ground state. Thus, understanding the solutions" (i.e. energies and eigenvectors)
to quantum constraint satisfaction problems is central to understanding the structure and
behavior of the physical world around us.
Quantum Hamiltonian complexity provides new approaches and techniques for tackling
fundamental questions in condensed matter physics, in particular the classical simulation
of quantum many body systems.

12 users have voted.
Herve Courtois's picture

Improving our conceptual understanding of quantum electron transport at the nanoscale is needed for enabling the emergence of “Beyond C-MOS“ nano-electronics devices. This implies a combined effort in the topics of spintronics, molecular electronics, single-electronics, quantum dots and nanowires, nano-cooling. Rapidly-progressing studies on Quantum Nano-Electronics rely on state-of-the-art technologies of nanofabrication, electron and near-field microscopies, transport measurement under extreme conditions (low temperatures, magnetic field, radio-frequency irradiation) and theoretical calculations.

21 users have voted.
Ulf Gennser's picture

A large number of interesting demonstrations with optical systems have been realized for the exploitation of purely quantum phenomena for quantum information or quantum computing. However, the scalability of such systems remains a problem. It is therefore important to study quantum transport and quantum technologies in electronic circuits and devices, where the up-scaling may be less of a problem.
Although recently a machine consisting of nearly 100 electronic quantum circuit elements was presented, it is far from clear that the computations are really quantum in nature (, and it is clear that fundamental studies are still essential. We need to learn more about decoherence processes, and how to increase the quantum coherence in electronic circuits; about new materials and hybrid systems, which can be used (e.g. spintronic devices, molecular electronics, single-electronics, quantum dots and nanowires, superconducting circuits and hybrid supra / semi / magnetic systems); and about other mesoscopic phenomena, such as quantum heat transport and nano-cooling.
In Europe today there exist a very vibrant community in mesoscopic physics, which has contributed to a number of recent relevant scientific results, such as the realization of electronic qubits, and the improved understanding and manipulation of quantum coherence in electronic circuits.

20 users have voted.
David Sanchez's picture

Thermoelectrics denotes, in a broad sense, the conversion of heat into electricity (the Seebeck effect). Interestingly, it also includes the reverse phenomenon (the Peltier effect), i.e., the generation of heat fluxes upon the application of electric currents. Therefore, progress in waste heat capturing would inevitably lead to improvement of thermoelectric cooling and refrigeration techniques.

Conversion efficiency is described with the aid of the ZT factor of merit. So far, the values achieved for ZT fall short of those required for wide technical use, motivating the need for a fundamental approach to lay the basis for future improvement of devices and materials for broad applications. Nanostructures offer not only promising enhancements of ZT factor but also novel thermoelectric functionalities due to their lower dimensionality and the large variety of well characterized nanosystems at our disposal. Furthermore, fundamental questions arise from the interplay between quantum coherence, quantum confinement and strong interactions in mesoscopic conductors subjected to both external electric fields and thermal gradients.

More specifically, thermoelectric quantum transport deals with solid-state systems effectively formed in 0D (quantum dots), 1D (nanowires, quantum waveguides), 2D (graphene and quantum wells) and 3D (superlattices and multilayers), as well as in molecular junctions. Of interest are nonlinearities, chaotic scattering, time-dependent fields and the influence of superconductivity (hybrid systems) and spintronic effects. This is an exciting field with an enormous interest for the European community.

9 users have voted.
Stuart Anderson's picture

Should FET take account of Member State Initiatives in this area and work out what might add value at a European level? The UK has called for a national network of quantum technology hubs with funding of £155m. The website is here: and they anticipate hubs in the following areas:
Quantum Secure Communications
Quantum Metrology
Quantum Sensors
Quantum Simulators
Quantum Computation
I guess other member states will have similar programmes either in planning or operation. Since this topic is technology centred I guess it would be useful to attempt to coordinate European effort if this is possible.

Another possibility is a shift in focus to emphasise more the application of the expected technologies in some challenge areas. For example, I guess there are many issues of how to harden current security measures so they are resistant to attacks utilising quantum technologies. This is probably very challenging and multidisciplinary while also being of vital importance to both the public and private sector.

8 users have voted.
Marc Sanquer's picture

Micro-Nano-electronics will face severe limitations in terms of power consumption and variability at scale below 5-10nm. This should appear around 2026 according to the ITRS roadmap. Revolutionary concepts are needed and what else except quantum concepts & technologies? We should work now on solid state electronic devices exploiting a broad range of concepts inherited from atom physics, superconductivity, quantum optics,.. and relying on the best available materials and nanofabrication skills in Europe.

7 users have voted.
Daniel Esteve's picture

Quantum electrical circuits, in particular superconducting quantum circuits, offer a broad range of opportunities for developing quantum technologies with a sizeable potential impact. Here are some research directions in this field. It is worth noticing that the US are presently heavily pouring manpower and funding. The hype is now even reaching a broad audience. To go or not to go, that is the question for Europe. Better not to miss the second quantum revolution.

-Quantum limited amplifiers based on parametric amplification allow to measure an individual quantum system with a minimal backaction corresponding to the amount of information taken. This makes possible the detection of a single spin, ESR on a single molecule, .... These amplifiers may also find their way in astronomy. Note that BICEP2 has used SQUID detectors, although not operated at the quantum limit. Startups are considered in the US, but not in Europe (as far as I know).
-quantum electrical circuits have open the field of quantum microwaves. The foundational quantum optics experiments recently performed with electrical circuits indeed demonstrate that microwave photonics is a reality . Applications will be envisioned once the toolbox developed enough.
-quantum information processing with superconducting processors have already demonstrated the speedup of quantum algorithms (in elementary situations) and important protocols (teleportation,...). Although the scalability issue is not solved yet, it is clear by now that larger platforms can be developed.
-The academic community worldwide is developing quantum processors based on the unitary evolution of a register. This route is difficult, and only tiny processors have been operated. The DWave company that is following the Adiabatic Quantum Computing route, claims that decoherence and thermal excitation issues do not affect the quantum power of their machine. Note it is already able to solve non trivial optimization or machine-learning problems. Resolving this coherence issue is very important and the answer will affect the future of the domain. What each strategy can deliver for QIP is a major issue to be sorted out.

14 users have voted.
Stuart Reid's picture

Quantum technologies offer the possibility to enhance the performance of existing systems in addition to generating new sensing and imaging techniques beyond those available in classical devices. The future emerging technologies that will be enabled by studying Quantum Technologies and the Interaction of Light and Matter offer the potential of transformative new technologies in the global challenge areas of security, healthcare and environmental monitoring.
Several ultra-sensitive displacement sensors, based on interferometric measurement, are/will dominated by quantum noise across the majority of their operating bandwidth (GEO-HF: Frequency, Advanced VIRGO: Quantum noise occurs both at the large scale, such as in these long baseline gravitational wave detectors, and also at the millimetre scale, such as table top prototypes and cavity opto-mechanical experiments ( Quantum technologies, based on squeezed states of light, promises the reduction of the quantum noise in a wide frequency range (both in shot noise and radiation pressure) by up to an order of magnitude. To achieve this target requires a series of developments in the area of optical technologies including low loss optical mirror coatings, new dielectric sputtered/expitaxially grown optical coatings and structured coating free mirrors, novel control techniques with high optical powers (optical springs) and the development ultra low noise, high stability, optical reference cavities.
There are strong links to established international collaborations within these areas including the International Max-Planck partnership ( 01/first-impp-by-scots/), and Optical Frequency and Metrology standards ( There further exists high potential for cross field collaboration, where techniques can be further applied to future emerging technologies including;
• squeezed light sources for biological imaging
• imaging beyond line of sight with entangled systems
• aberration free imaging
• monitoring of temporal gravitational fields and single photon detectors with the visible-IR bandwidth.
• high damage threshold coatings for laser mirrors
• narrow band optical filters for fluorescence microscopy
• development of high sensitivity accelerometers based on both atom interferometry or classical MEMS, which are readout with sub-shot noise interferometric readouts
• highly specific gas sensors and compact Raman spectrometers.
There is significant potential for novel sensing at and beyond the standard quantum limit which can be enabled through the expertise that exists across various institutions and companies within Europe.

15 users have voted.
Guido Burkard's picture

Semiconductors are the material of choice for conventional information technologies, and recent studies strongly indicate that they have large potential to also become the basis of scalable quantum technologies. Encoding quantum information in the spin of electrons (and in some cases atomic nuclei) in semiconductors allows for long-lived quantum coherence and fast control. The highly-developed tools of semiconductor micro-fabrication open up the possibility transform these systems to technologically relevant scales. While this is, e.g., greatly interesting for applications in quantum simulation, it actually has implications beyond this, i.e., for quantum information processing and quantum technologies in general (the quantum simulations call in the previous round of FET dealt with an important sub-topic and was highly welcome, but was too limited to cover this relevant and more general topic). The apparent limitations of the electron spin coherence due to the hyperfine coupling to nuclear spins (mostly in the otherwise high-quality III-V semiconductors) has recently lead to a number of scientifically interesting approaches, among them the study of new and different semiconductor materials, such as silicon and silicon-germanium (,, ), as well as new ideas in controlling and monitoring the magnetic environment of a spin qubit (, ). There is a strong and well-established community striving for the development of knowledge and technologies based on semiconductor-based quantum information (see, e.g., Annu. Rev. Condens. Matter Phys. 4, 51 (2013); and Rev. Mod. Phys. 85, 961 (2013); ). Further materials systems that open interesting scientific avenues are carbon-based semiconductor systems such as graphene, carbon-nanotubes, or diamond (with defect spins), as well as semiconductors with strong spin-orbit coupling (InAs, InSb, etc.) and semiconductor-superconductor hybrid systems where cavity-QED and new quantum-mechanical quasiparticles (anyons, Majorana fermions) with exotic properties and potential applications for quantum information can be found. Spins in semiconductors –if they can be interfaced with photons—would be ideal quantum memories for quantum communications tasks in a quantum network (e.g., in quantum repeaters). These approaches bring up completely new scientific questions related to novel materials and quantum phases that they support. Along with strong efforts towards scaling-up the working spin-qubit schemes, these scientific questions need to be explored.

86 users have voted.
Group managers
Aymard DE TOUZALIN European Commission Future and Emerging Technology Unit Deputy Head of Unit
Walter VAN DE VELDE European Commission Future and Emerging Technologies Scientific Officer and FET Strategy
Beatrice MARQUEZ-GARRIDO European Commission Future & Emerging Technologies Unit Project Officer
Group Participants