New “Horizon 2020” project started

December 18, 2020
Researchers from the Physical Chemistry Department at the Fritz Haber Institute have together with other European research institutions and companies formed the research consortium OPTOlogic. It aims to develop optical topological computing as a means to reduce energy consumption of electronic circuits. The EU funds the project with almost 4 Million Euros.

About 10% of the world’s electricity production is used to power the information and communication technologies used for data networks, computing centres and personal digital devices. As this area is expected to take an even bigger share in the future, it is important to find ways to keep its energy costs as low as possible. The EU has recently funded the OPTOlogic project that aims to do exactly that: develop a computing architecture that makes these logic operations energy efficient, taking advantage of light-induced and controlled topological properties of materials.

Topology is a mathematical concept for describing the shape of geometrical objects. It has been realized that is extremely useful for describing exotic electronic properties of solids, a finding awarded with the 2016 Nobel Price in Physics. Electrons in topologically protected electronic states of a material can move with minimal loss of energy, which enables the realization of dissipation-free quantum devices. To artificially induce and control topological protected states, the project will use spatially and temporally structured ultrafast pulses of light. These novel quantum devices will use minimal energy to move and store information, while increasing computing power. By increasing the energy efficiency and speed of logical operations, the project could have a significant economic, environmental and social impact.

Coordinated by Prof. Jens Biegert, the OPTOlogic consortium includes researchers at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) near Barcelona, the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Plank Society and the Max Born Institute in Berlin, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) at Saclay, and the company LightOn,  thus uniting world-leading experimental, theoretical, and industrial expertise in condensed matter physics, ultrafast spectroscopy, attoscience, quantum optics and computing, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The consortium aims at developing a new technological platform that leverages topology to avoid energy loss in electronic transport, light-wave-electronics to overcome limitations imposed by material properties, and quantum materials to realize novel information storage and processing. They will develop topological-Qubits, the first elementary building block for the development of this innovative quantum technology, and search to perform quantum logic operations that can surpass those limitations imposed by simple binary operations. The project will use the latest technology in ultrafast techniques and attoscience, nanotechnology, and quantum computing to develop this new platform.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s “Horizon 2020” research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 899794.

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