LEUVEN, Belgium, Jan. 12, 2022 — Imec, a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies, announces that the European Research Council (ERC) has awarded a prestigious Starting Grant to Christian Haffner, holder of the first tenure track at imec, for his project on Quantum Electro-Optic Amplifiers (Q-Amp). The grant amounts to just under €2M for five years and will boost the research on next-generation quantum- and supercomputers from Christian Haffner and his team.
Quantum computers face many bottlenecks towards upscaling the number of qubits and increasing their computational power. One of them is the radio frequency (RF)-bottleneck between the qubit processor (which operates at cryogenic conditions) and the control and readout electronics (which operate at room temperature). Like for their classical counterparts, hope lies in replacing the RF-links by optical fibres, resulting in a hybrid situation where RF-qubits will be used for computation and optical qubits will serve for remote communication. However, electro-optical (EO) devices that parametrically amplify RF-qubits directly to optical qubits and vice versa have thus far remained elusive. The ambition of Christian Haffner’s Q-Amp project is to develop EO-amplifiers that will provide these high-speed EO gateways and thus will help to overcome the scaling limitations of current superconducting quantum computers.
Christian Haffner’s ERC grant is announced by the ERC today in the frame of the first call for proposals under the EU’s new R&I program, Horizon Europe. Research funded by the ERC is expected to lead to advances at the frontiers of knowledge and to set a clear and inspirational target for groundbreaking research across Europe. Scientific excellence is the sole criterion on the basis of which ERC frontier research grants are awarded. The call, that closed in April 2021, attracted over 4,000 proposals, out of which only 397 were selected.
“With a success rate of below ten percent, the mere fact of being selected is a recognition that makes me extremely honored,” Christian Haffner says. “Moreover, the considerable funding provided by the ERC grant will allow me, amongst others, to acquire a state-of-the-art cryostat, which is an essential piece of equipment for this research. I also want to thank my colleagues at imec for having guided and supported me throughout the application process.”
“Imec encourages and supports young researchers with high potential to submit an ERC grant. We congratulate Christian in joining the growing number of imec ERC grantees,” adds Jo De Boeck, Chief Strategy Officer at imec.
In the press release issued by the ERC, Prof. Maria Leptin, President of the European Research Council, said: “Letting young talent thrive in Europe and go after their most innovative ideas – this is the best investment in our future, not least with the ever-growing competition globally. We must trust the young and their insights into what areas will be important tomorrow.”
Imec is a world-leading research and innovation center in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. Imec leverages its state-of-the-art R&D infrastructure and its team of more than 5,000 employees and top researchers, for R&D in advanced semiconductor and system scaling, silicon photonics, artificial intelligence, beyond 5G communications and sensing technologies, and in application domains such as health and life sciences, mobility, industry 4.0, agrofood, smart cities, sustainable energy, education, … Imec unites world-industry leaders across the semiconductor value chain, Flanders-based and international tech, pharma, medical and ICT companies, start-ups, and academia and knowledge centers. Imec is headquartered in Leuven (Belgium), and has research sites across Belgium, in the Netherlands and the USA, and offices in China, India, Taiwan and Japan. In 2020, imec’s revenue (P&L) totaled 680 million euro.
Further information on imec can be found at www.imec-int.com.