Quantum technology (QT), as one of the key technologies of the 21st century, offers enormous potential for the fields of health, mobility, energy and security, among other areas.
The "N-Quik" project, funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (MWIKE), is a new milestone in quantum technology research. Together with the Dutch QuTech - a collaboration of the TU Delft and the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research TNO - the Fraunhofer ILT will establish cross-border QT networks in the future. On February 13, 2023, NRW Minister of Economic Affairs Mona Neubaur handed over the funding notification for "N-QUIK" worth 3.5 million euros to Prof. Constantin Häfner, Director of the Fraunhofer ILT in Aachen.
The international project partners aim to have the quantum Internet node up and running by 2024. Prof. Constantin Häfner, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT: "This development and test platform for network components in NRW lays the foundation for taking a leading position in the development, implementation and exploitation of quantum technology. The forward-looking project "N-Quik" forms the starting signal for a quantum network in Europe."
In order to make the best possible use of the potential of quantum computers in an early development phase and to enable companies and start-ups to test new products, the first nationwide node for the quantum internet is being built at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen. Economics and Climate Protection Minister Mona Neubaur on February 13, 2023, handed over a funding decision from the state of around 3.5 million euros for the "N-Quik" project.
Partnership active from 2024
The project partners Fraunhofer ILT and the Dutch research center QuTech are working on putting the quantum internet node into operation from 2024. Such a network makes it possible to bundle the performance of several quantum computers and thus achieve long-term advances in areas such as energy, transport or industry that are not possible with today's mainframe computers.
Minister Neubaur commented: “As a key technology, quantum computing offers enormous opportunities for climate protection and the green transformation of society and the economy. With the construction of the first nationwide node for the quantum internet in Aachen, we are strengthening the technological pioneering role of North Rhine-Westphalia and creating the basis for using quantum computers to increase energy efficiency, optimize traffic flows or develop new materials for the chemical industry.
She added, “In addition, companies, start-ups and research institutions will soon be able to test innovative products and applications under forward-looking conditions. The project 'N-Quik' is exemplary due to the cross-border cooperation and at the same time an important signal for attractive jobs in the city region of Aachen and the Rhenish Revier.”
In setting up the quantum internet node, Fraunhofer ILT is working with the Dutch research center QuTech, a collaboration between the Technical University of Delft and the Dutch Organization for Applied Scientific Research TNO.
Prof. Constantin Häfner, head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT said, “With N-Quik we are developing a test platform for central components of a quantum internet and are thus laying the foundation in NRW for taking a leading position in the development, implementation and exploitation of quantum technology. N-Quik lays an important cornerstone in NRW for the future quantum network in Europe. It is the starting signal for a forward-looking project and I would like to thank Minister Neubaur and the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy for the support and trust.”
“With the quantum internet, several quantum computers can be linked so that the computing power is scalable. Another advantage of the quantum internet compared to today's internet is that the laws of physics enable tap-proof data transmission in real time. In a further step, the quantum internet node in Aachen is to become part of a Europe-wide network.”
Pictured above: Prof. Constantin Häfner, Director of the Fraunhofer ILT hands over a symbolic quantum node to NRW Economics Minister Mona Neubaur at the launch of the "N-QUIK" project, funded by NRW. © Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany / Andreas Steindl.