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Federal Chancellor visits the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics Securing prosperity through research

Quantum technology is a comparatively recently established branch of physics in which certain effects and mechanisms occur that are not found in any other field of physics. Germany is one of the pioneers in the development of this future-oriented research field. The Federal Chancellor was able to see this at first hand on her visit to the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics.

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Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel visiting the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics.

Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel visiting the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics.

Photo: Federal Government/Bergmann

Without research and work with quantum computers, Germany would not be able to maintain its economic success, said Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in Garching on a visit to the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics. “Our prosperity depends entirely on being world leaders in fundamental research and its application in new fields,” said the Federal Chancellor on Wednesday.

Networking research, teaching and start-ups

The Federal Chancellor visited the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) at its Garching research campus near Munich together with the state premier of Bavaria Markus Söder. The institute is one of the flagships in the development of future quantum technologies and plays a key role as part of Munich Quantum Valley, which was launched in March 2021. One aim of this initiative is to build quantum computers on various platforms. “In the age of digitalisation, quantum technologies and the complete transformation of our economy, there is no question that we are more dependent than ever on being among the world market leaders,” stressed the Federal Chancellor.

Merkel was very impressed with the work being done by the scientists. For Germany, she said, it was important to embed research in start-up landscapes in cooperation with universities and research institutions. “This has sometimes been a weakness of Germany in the past – and what is going on here shows that these very lessons have been learned.”

Munich Quantum Valley is a network of five research institutions: the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Light, the Fraunhofer Society, Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU), the Technical University (TU) of Munich, and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities. They are seeking to establish a centre for quantum science and quantum technologies that is unique in Europe.

Guided tour of the laboratories

In one laboratory, Federal Chancellor Merkel was given an insight into the function of a quantum simulator. This is a special type of quantum computer based on thousands of individual atoms. The set-up is one of the most advanced systems anywhere in the world. It allows scientists to carry out the most complex quantum calculations yet for questions from the materials sciences. 

In another laboratory, the Federal Chancellor was shown a quantum node with memory properties. This is a central resource for quantum communication and an interface for future quantum networks. In the long term, this research is aimed at creating a quantum internet that allows data to be transmitted without the possibility of interception, and in which quantum processors can be networked to form one larger-scale quantum computer.

Quanta open up new dimensions

Quantum technology is considered a game changer capable of creating new knowledge and novel possibilities in many areas within just a few years – including logistics, transport, energy, chemistry and medicine. This is why the development and use of this technology is one of the most ambitious technological goals in science today.

However, it is also one of the most complex areas of physics. Researchers are working on various technologies based on quanta, with the potential to revolutionise numerous areas of science – from medicine to materials research. At the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ), scientists study the interaction between light and matter.

The Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) is one of the 84 institutes of the Max Planck Society and one of the world’s leading research institutes in the field of quantum optics. The MPQ employs some 350 staff from 40 nations. 

Quantum technologies framework programme

In order to strategically advance the development of quantum technologies in Germany, the Federal Government is pooling its resources under the direction of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The framework programme “Quantum Technologies - from the Basics to the Market” defines the starting point and objectives as well as setting out concrete measures up until 2022.

To this end, the Federal Government is making 650 million euros available in the current legislative period for research into quantum technologies. In connection with the strategic initiative on quantum computing, an additional investment of 300 million euros in this technology was announced at the beginning of 2020.

Finally, an additional two billion euros is to be added from the Federal Government’s economic stimulus and future package adopted in mid-2020, of which around 1.1 billion euros will go to BMBF funding in this area.