Kouwenhoven partners with Microsoft to build quantum computer

Leo Kouwenhoven has made extreme strides in his field by discovering the Majorana Particle and now Microsoft has partnered with him to hopefully develop the first quantum computer.

As a professor of physics in the faculty of Applied Sciences and group leader of the Quantum Transport Group within the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, he had been actively researching the mysterious Majorana Particle for year when, in 2012, he first saw something different in his research. He published his first article about the discovery in April 2012.

Named after Ettore Majorana, who hypothesised the existence of the particle in 1937, it is a fermion. That is, the one and only particle that is equal to its own antiparticle. “If it meets itself, it disappears,” explains Kouwenhoven. Finding this fermion posed a question to the status quo of physics. “The universe is split by bozon and fermion – light and electrons. Maybe Majorana particles are a new class of non-abelian statistics,” says Kouwenhoven.

Majorana particles are viewed as the building blocks for quantum computers and the research team at the Quantum Transport Group views their ultimate goal as the creation of one. Current computers rely on transistors to transmit information, recording information in a binary format of ones and zeroes. Quantum computing uses qubits. Rather than being in one state or another, qubits remain in a superposition of two states simultaneously. This would allow a computer to perform an immense number of calculations at the same time, thus greatly increasing its speed.

Microsoft has invested one million euros in the project, with another million coming from the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (Fom). The goal of the project is to build the first working quantum computer.

A professor with the TU Delft since 2008, Kouwenhoven is not new to big discoveries. While he was a master’s student at TU Delft, he accidently discovered Quantum Point Contact, a narrow point between two wide electrically conducting regions. 

Editor Redactie

Do you have a question or comment about this article?

Comments are closed.