The European Research Council (ERC) supports pioneering research by outstanding scientists in Europe. The ERC Starting Grants provide successful young researchers with highly endowed project budgets. Experimental physicist Martin Ringbauer joined the Department of Experimental Physics at the University of Innsbruck in 2018 as an Erwin Schrödinger Fellow. He now receives the prestigious grant from the European Research Council and will continue to advance his research on the development of novel quantum computers.
A new paradigm for quantum computing
For as long as we can remember, computers have worked with zeros and ones. Since this binary paradigm has been extremely successful for classical computers, which now shape every aspect of our lives, it has also become the basis for the development of a new generation of computers based on quantum physics. “Today’s quantum computers, however, could do much more than just zeros and ones,” explains Martin Ringbauer. The Innsbruck quantum computers work with individual trapped ions, each of which naturally have eight energy levels that could be used for computing. However, quantum information is usually stored in the form of quantum bits, using only two of these levels and can be manipulated using focused laser beams. “By restricting our quantum computers to only two levels, we give up valuable computing resources.”
In the ERC project, Ringbauer wants to create a new kind of quantum computer, which uses the full potential of the trapped-ion hardware by performing computations with so-called quantum digits or qudits. “Using qudits is not only very natural for the quantum hardware, but also ideal for many of the applications that are expected to require such quantum hardware”. For example, Ringbauer wants to explore fundamental questions in particle physics to gain a better understanding for the inner workings of the universe. “Another goal is to explore ways in which the richer structure of qudits enables better protection against computational errors, which is a major challenge in the field,” the physicist adds.
On Martin Ringbauer
Martin Ringbauer, born 1990 in Vienna, studied physics and mathematics at the University of Vienna. He received his PhD in experimental quantum physics in the group of Andrew White at the University of Queensland, Australia in 2016. After a PostDoc at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, he joined the group of Rainer Blatt at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, as an Erwin Schrödinger Fellow in 2018.