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QphoX announces €8M funding to develop quantum internet and world’s first quantum modem device

Image credit: QphoX

QphoX, the Dutch quantum computing company that is making rapid progress towards creating a quantum internet, has announced an €8 million funding round. The round was led by QDNL Participations, that invests in early-stage quantum technologies including Quantum Delta NL and QuantWare. Further, the round also saw participation from the EIC Fund, and existing investors Quantonation, Speedinvest, High-Tech Gründerfonds, and Delft Enterprises.

The funding will be used to bring QphoX’s first products to market, and take the first steps towards realising the commercial potential of quantum computing.

A field full of potential, and challenges

Quantum computing remains a nascent technology, but one with enormous potential. For many, the biggest problem is understanding what it is. On a simple level, the difference between tradition and quantum computing is the difference between bits, which can be 0 or 1, and quantum computing’s qubits, which can hold a ‘superposition’ of both of those, or something in between. This means quantum computing works on a probabilistic level that can be orders of magnitude faster than traditional computing.

The complexity is one of the reasons QphoX’s team includes several PhDs, and even a Nobel Prize winner on their advisory board. It’s also meant they have recruited a diverse team. “We are proud to have a fully gender-balanced workforce,” tells CEO and co-founder Simon Gröblacher to TFN. “And Our team of 20 has a very diverse background: thirteen nationalities and countries of origin.”

That team has made significant progress in addressing some of the core challenges of quantum computing. The quantum physics involved makes it difficult to scale quantum computers. Adding qubits to microwave-frequency quantum processors can decrease their fidelity as well as creating heat-load problems. The result is that many quantum computers are useful to research, but not capable of performing anything of commercial use.

QphoX is addressing that difficulty by taking the first steps towards a quantum internet, by building the world’s first quantum modem, a critical step towards creating a quantum internet capable of connecting quantum computers across the globe. Using an optical readout and control system, they can create larger processors. And by establishing remote entanglement links, they can use room-temperature fibre networks that are capable of practical applications.

The Delft-based startup’s core technology enables quantum transduction. This allows information to be translated between the optical and microwave domains. It offers the potential for a true quantum internet, seeing quantum computers around the world connected. They have already made breakthroughs in the area, and late last year shared their first demonstration in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Nanotechnology.

A breakthrough in quantum connectivity

The ability to connect quantum computers is an essential step towards making the theoretical possibilities of the qubit a viable reality, said Chad Rigetti, Venture Partner at lead investor QDNL Participations. “Quantum transduction, and the ability to interconnect modular quantum computers over an optical network, is a breakthrough capability that could shift how we think of building large scale quantum computers and the quantum internet,” he said.

The potential to create networks of quantum computers, using room-temperature connections, offers the potential of quantum computing taking advantage of some of the ways traditional computers work. These include “distributed quantum computing to scale quantum computers to a size where they can actually solve interesting problems faster than classical computing,” says Gröblacher. “This is very similar to parallel processing with classical machines.”

It will also mean that users can have more direct access. “Being able to access quantum computing resources over a quantum channel, through a quantum network, will make it possible to send actual quantum computing tasks to a quantum computer as a user,” Gröblacher says. “This will also enable quantum computation without having to trust the operator of the quantum computer.”

And at a time when quantum computers are still being developed, and often created with specific use-cases, these can be harnessed to create more powerful combinations. “Connecting different quantum resources over a quantum channel will allow users to leverage their individual strengths,” Gröblacher explained to TFN. “This will be particularly important in the beginning, where quantum computers will be able to solve very specific tasks but not do universal computation.”

QphoX’s technology is an essential step towards unleashing the power of quantum computing, a market that is expected to be worth €15-20 billion by 2030. Having established the technology for a quantum internet, QphoX will be using its latest funds to accelerate its product development, preparing it for integration into commercial systems, and launching its first pilot projects. Although quantum computing may still be some way from the mainstream, QphoX’s work, and funding, have brought the day when quantum computing’s speed can be used to transform our world closer.

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