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NWO Summit Grant to investigate fundamental quantum limits



A consortium including Leiden physicists Carlo Beenakker and Bas Hensen receives an NWO Summit Grant of 35 million euros over the course of ten years. With the grant, they aim to investigate the fundamental limits of quantum physics.


The Summit grant is intended for research consortia that have proven in existing collaborations that they belong to the absolute world top. The assigned projects come from a variety of science fields and have proven their worth in recent years by contributing essential insights into their own field of science.


The minister of Education, Culture and Science put the research consortia receiving the research funding in the limelight today during a festive ceremony in Delft to celebrate the importance of top research in the Netherlands.


Quantum limits project


This research project aims to investigate the fundamental limits on physical processes imposed by the laws of quantum mechanics, by exploring the behaviour of quantum systems at the nanoscale. What is the size limit of the quantum domain? How massive or how complex can a system in quantum superposition be? And is there a quantum granularity of space and time? Answers to these questions can point the way to radically new fundamental or technological

breakthroughs.


Lead applicant and scientific director at QuTech, Lieven Vandersypen says about the grant: ‘Despite all the successes of quantum theory, major gaps in our understanding remain. There are big open questions, many of them interrelated, and these occur when we take quantum mechanics to its limits. The consortium we have brought together is eminent, balanced in composition and with expertise across all the relevant disciplines. We will work as a team, collaborating with the other members of the consortium and with the new researchers we will attract.’


Thriving collaboration between Delft and Leiden


The Leiden researchers contribute to two themes, Beenakker explains: ‘Bas Hensen and his group investigate the interface between quantum mechanics and gravity: can gravity entangle two objects quantum mechanically? My group investigates the interface between quantum and artificial intelligence (AI). We hope to find out whether a quantum computer can make AI both more powerful and more understandable.’


Vandersypen continues: ‘This Delft-Leiden consortium has a history of joint work and community building of more than twenty years. This spans large joint research projects, such as an ERC Synergy and two large Dutch Gravitation programs, during which we had joint work meetings and retreats. But also a joint graduate school with specialised PhD level courses, spring schools and a new joint MSc program in QIST. Finally, two of the co-investigators were driving forces behind the national agenda for quantum technology and the Quantum Delta NL (QDNL) program. Where QDNL focuses on economic impact, we will be able to leverage the investments in infrastructure and build-up of know-how from this program in our Quantum Limits research.’

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