The semiconductor annual revenue of Europe has remained substantially unchanged since 2000,
while the market has expanded of a factor of two. Such decrease of market
share by about a half, despite the increase in demand, can be attributed to a number of factors,
including insufficient creation of new actors, insufficient technology transfer from the public
research environment to industry and a lack of measures to create a single domain. The size of
semiconductor industries in the European Union is comparable to those of Taiwan, just
fragmented across many sites.
Novel application of widely studied quantum phenomena such as superposition, quantum
parallelism, wavefunction collapse and entanglement could be in principle exploited to radically
improve functionalities for several applications, ranging from solving optimization problems such
as protein folding, molecular matching, medical applications, stock market simulations, to
communication systems, space industry and biological analysis1.
One of the biggest obstacles to convert successful demonstration of the working principles of
quantum phenomena to massively produced industrial applications, beneficial to society, is the
lack of an engineered approach to the full stack of technologies and elements required to ensure
repeatability, scalability and massive control of quantum effects. Atomic scale fabrication of
electronic devices is expected to boost advancements beyond as well as alternate to Moore’s
law. However, there is still a lack of the complete supply chain ranging from the building-blocks
such as atoms and electrons, to packaging and control based on standard electronics, physically
and robustly realising theoretical models. Such gap prevents the full exploitation of quantum
mechanics in high impact information and communication technologies and a boost of the IT
market. The challenges facing quantum information technologies are highlighted by:
1) the lack of investment in engineered methods for atomic scale fabrication,
2) the lack of integration with standard semiconductor technology,
3) the absence of electronic design for practical quantum control.
4) the insufficient robust control methods helping to enable advanced functionalities of complex,
realistic quantum devices
The quantum technologies applied to the silicon arena may provide the seed of a new
innovation ecosystem positioned in the field of silicon technology and focused to generate new
knowledge, to activate market opportunities and involve new and high potential actors by offering
new technological solutions compatible with existing technology.
The ecosystem obtained by the development of quantum technologies applied to silicon platform
provides a hub for semiconductor companies interested to exploit novel functionalities based
on existing materials, thanks to the added value developed in the quantum technology
framework, provided that all the aspects of the supply chain are covered. The key point is to
exploit existing resources, by renewing the existing supply chain, by extending it to quantum
technologies and achieve unprecedented functionalities.
The challenging and innovative target is to exploit the industrially mature silicon platform for
developing the full stack of building blocks from theory of quantum control and algorithms, to
applied physics of serial atomic scale fabrication methods, to industrial process-compatible
silicon control electronics, to serial prototypes for innovative industrial applications.
Such radically new fabrication, integration and control methods, relying on atom based silicon
technology, will lead to applications such as loop controlled atomic qubit ports, quantum random
number generators, and room temperature single-photon emitters and detectors.
EU already invested in the years in quantum technologies, for instance the Coordination and
Support Action QUAINT established a quantum control community across Europe, represented
as virtual facility in QUROPE - Quantum Information Processing and Communication in Europe.
In 2016 the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, G Oettinger, has
announced the intention of the European Commission to fund a 1B EUR flagship-like initiative on
Quantum Technologies. Currently, the discussion inherent the Quantum Technology Flagship
has been based on the vision carried in the years by the QUROPE platform, which arranges the
quantum technologies in a matrix of Virtual Institutes (Quantum Computation, Communication,
Simulation.. etc) and Virtual Facilities (Quantum Control and Quantum Engineering)4. Our vision
is to extend such platform along a third dimension (the Supply Chain) and to develop
quantum engineering in silicon technologies to enable the widest possible utilisation of quantum
technologies in all applications to benefit European industry and consequently society. Such
model can be extended to other existing platforms such as III-V semiconductors, organic
materials, etc. The silicon industry platform may provide the first arena for the development of a
complete supply chain from the quantum technologies to industry.
The added value of the European initiative on quantum engineering of silicon technologies
1) the creation of a coordinated and efficient hub to provide novel methods to be transferred to all
the silicon industries based in Europe and in new start-up companies;
2) the exploitation of existing silicon European industrial platform by extending its value chain
instead of replacing it;
3) the implementation of the synergy between novel silicon technologies and existing silicon
technologies, an innovation model to be transferred also to other supply chains for different
materials of relevance such as III-V semiconductors, organic media, etc. for which industrial
processes already exist.