Quantum physics has led to technologies ubiquitous in our society such as the atomic clock, integrated circuits and lasers. These technologies have revolutionized the modern-world, leading to further applications never dreamed-of at the time of their inventions, such as GPS, the internet, and laser eye surgery.
The fundamental ideas of quantum physics, namely entanglement and coherence, have yet to be fully exploited for a next generation of technologies, which could again lead to technological advancements unimaginable today. For example could a quantum memory based on qubits in diamond be useful for transferring encrypted keys in a suitcase for a few hours, or is the synthesis of materials with new exotic properties possible using quantum simulators? There are already evidences and commercial products that demonstrate that entanglement and coherence can be used to ensure secure data encryption and can be used to improve sensing and imaging.
In order to fully explore the possibilities of further future technologies such as quantum simulators, quantum computation, quantum communication, quantum sensing, quantum algorithms, and quantum thermoelectrics, interdisciplinary solutions will become increasingly more important. For instance physicists attempting to solve difficult quantum mechanics problems, even classically, need to learn to work with computer scientists to develop methods of efficient computation with new-generation cluster computers. Material scientist’s and chemist’s work could lead to a new generation of synthesized qubits, which could leverage the knowledge already garnered in atomic physics systems. The engineering sciences will play an increasingly important role in learning how to shield the quantum system from the outside environment in order to maintain quantum coherence.
Only collaborative research between the various disciplines makes it possible to push forward innovative ideas in quantum science and develop prototypes of quantum-enabling technologies that will transfer to industry. IQST is a unique institution in Germany which fosters an interdisciplinary interface necessary for solving the problems of the 21st century.
Prof. Wolfgang Schleich and Prof. Tilman Pfau had the desire to found just such a collaborative research center; the Center for Integrated Quantum Science and Technology IQST was established in April 2014 with the generous financial support of the state of Baden-Württemberg, of Ulm University and of the University of Stuttgart.
Ulm University, the University of Stuttgart, as well as the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research (Stuttgart) have not only a longstanding successful cross-disciplinary collaboration between each other, but many connections to and partnerships with innovative companies within the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. Based on this experience, it was natural to combine our complementary strengths to found the Center for Integrated Quantum Science and Technology IQST as an internationally competitive and competent center for fundamental research in quantum science and technologies.