1h | Alan Burkitt-Gray
German chancellor Angela Merkel has taken part in the presentation of IBM’s first quantum computer to a European research institution.
Merkel, who has a doctorate in quantum chemistry, welcomed the delivery of the IBM Quantum System One to the Fraunhofer Institute at Ehningen, just outside Stuttgart.
“Quantum computing opens up new possibilities for industry and society,” said Hannah Venzl (pictured, with computer), the coordinator of Fraunhofer competence network for quantum computing.
The computer will form part of Germany’s €2 billion quantum computing road map (roadmap quantencomputing) to develop an ecosystem based on the new technology.
The move is just the latest in a number of advances in quantum technology that are expected to change the face of cloud computing and telecommunications. Toshiba has just announced that its laboratory in Cambridge has pushed the distance for secure quantum communications to 600km, a significant advance towards building a global quantum internet.
In Germany, Venzl hailed the installation of the new computer as a significant move in a range of technologies.
“Drugs and vaccines could be developed more quickly, climate models improved, logistics and transport systems optimised, or new materials better simulated,” said Venzl. “To make it all happen, to actively shape the rapid development in quantum computing, we need to build up expertise in Europe.”
The computer will be accessible via the cloud, said the Fraunhofer Institute, which will be giving more details on 30 June. IBM said it has 150 organisations in its quantum network, including research labs, start-ups, universities and enterprises that are able to access its quantum computers via the cloud.
Arvind Krishna, CEO and chairman of IBM, said: “I am very happy about the launch of the IBM Quantum System One in Germany, the most powerful quantum computer in Europe. This is a turning point from which the German economy, industry and society will benefit greatly. Quantum computers promise to solve entirely new categories of problems that are beyond the reach of even the most powerful conventional computers today.”
Next month IBM will be supplying a quantum computer to Japan, and later one will also be installed in Ohio in the US.
Venzl said: “At Fraunhofer, we have more than 70 years of expertise in applied research and industrial projects, and we are closely interlinked with industry. The training on the system will help us develop practical applications and build up important competencies in German industry and at Fraunhofer itself.”
The institute said that it needs “skilled quantum programmers to create libraries of quantum algorithms for specific problems in different fields”.
It added: “But we also need quantum experts to further improve software and hardware, to advance core quantum computing technology. And we need businesses to have enough quantum awareness to realise that a quantum computer would help them significantly improve output and possibly create products they can’t create today.”