Interdisciplinary frontier research in quantum science
Quantum computers, tap-proof data transfer or highly sensitive sensors - quantum mechanical properties, such as superposition and entanglement, are fundamental to many of tomorrow's technological systems.
In the interdisciplinary core area quantum information and technology, scientists at Ulm University investigate quantum physical phenomena in theory and by experimentation. The overall goal is to gain complete control over quantum systems. It is also about quantum physical effects in condensed matter, in nanostructures and in biological systems.
These research activities are pooled at the Center for Integrated Quantum Science and Technology (IQST). In this unique collaboration, which is unique in this form in Germany, scientists from Ulm and Stuttgart increasingly push the boundaries of physics: In IQST research projects, for example, physicists, chemists, mathematicians and engineers work closely together in order to transfer excellent research results into technical applications.
The Carl Zeiss Endowed Professorship for Hybrid Quantum Systems bridges the gap between solid-state/atomic physics and electrical engineering. By combining a variety of quantum mechanical systems, their strengths are pooled and can be utilised, for example, for the safe transfer of information ('quantum cryptography') or the quantum computer.
Novel sensors for use in cells are an important goal in research at Ulm University. To achieve this, scientists focus on the manipulation of individual atoms in diamonds. Prof. Fedor Jelezko, one of the world's leading experts in controlling the smallest particles in solids - as demonstrated by the prestigious awards he has won - is involved in these research groups.
Ulm researchers explore new research field
In fact, a new research field has evolved in this area at Ulm University, which is being explored by the 'Quantum Devices and Biology' (BioQ) group: quantum biosciences. Researchers strive to understand quantum effects in biological systems. As part of this endeavour, they are developing sensor and imaging technologies that show the structures and functions of individual bio-molecules under physiological conditions – with atomic resolution and down to the quantum level. Not only biomedical research and diagnostics could benefit from these developments but also the pharmaceutical and the photovoltaic industry. Beyond that, the researchers have also set out to explain a wide range of phenomena such as the human sense of smell, photosynthesis and the flight of the birds.
In order to pave the way for such frontier research, physics professors Martin Plenio and Fedor Jelezko and the chemist Prof. Tanja Weil (now Director of the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research) were awarded a Synergy Grant by the European Research Council (ERC) at the end of 2012.Worth € 10.3 million, it is the European Union's most highly endowed research instrument.
As a side-effect of their research, the group furthermore won the EU projectHYPERDIAMOND (€ 5 million in total): The researchers want to improve magnetic resonance imaging with quantum technology and hyperpolarised diamonds.
In the future, the BioQ group will involve more than 100 further scientists conducting research under one roof.A 'Centre for Quantum Biosciences' (ZQB) is being established at Ulm University with high-tech, globally unique labs tailored precisely to the researchers' needs. In addition, a new super-microscope provides unimagined insights into the quantum world: Since the end of 2017, the scientists have the worldwide unparalleled low-voltage transmission electron microscope SALVE with two-fold aberration correction at their disposal.