Smart Systems

Fraunhofer IKTS: Reliable components for quantum computers

January 2, 2024. In the recently launched VorZuQ project, Fraunhofer IKTS aims to extend its thermo-mechanical analytical methods into the cryogenic temperature range and thus create the first applications for quantum computing-related materials and structures.

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Based on a commercial cryo-stage, stable temperature conditions are to be realized for measurements on microchips in the low temperature range. Photo: Fraunhofer IKTS

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Quantum computers are set to revolutionize computing. Researchers around the world are working to ensure that these supercomputers will be able to solve problems that even the largest computers have so far failed to solve.

Low operating temperatures

The problem: most quantum computer approaches work on the basis of qubits, which have to be cooled down to a few milli-Kelvin (approx. -273 degrees Celsius) in order to be used. This is not only complex, it also places special demands on the microchips used to control the qubits. Fraunhofer IKTS has set itself the task of investigating their reliability in the cryogenic temperature range in the project “Pre-development for precise reliability testing of materials and systems in quantum technology (VorZuQ)”.

Thermo-mechanical reliability tests in the cryogenic range

The focus is on thermo-mechanical stresses that arise due to the large temperature differences during production and operation and can damage the semiconductor components. In order to characterize this damage, setups are to be realized that keep the required low temperatures stable during the investigation.

A vacuum chamber and a scanning electron microscope (SEM) are being adapted at Fraunhofer IKTS so that damage scenarios can be experimentally determined using a so-called cryo-stage (holder in which the sample is cooled with liquid nitrogen).

The technical setups and workflows developed in VorZuQ will make it possible to assess thermo-mechanical stresses in microelectronic components in the cryogenic temperature range in future, paving the way for greater reliability of quantum computers.

Project VorZuQ

The project “Vorentwicklung zur präzisen Zuverlässigkeitsuntersuchung für Materialien und Systeme der Quantentechnologie (VorZuQ)” is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with 477,000 euros as part of the “Forschungsprogramm Quantensysteme” and will run for three years.

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Photo: Fraunhofer IKTS

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