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A team of renowned Gdańsk physicists receive 35 million PLN to establish the International Centre for Theory of Quantum Technologies at the University of Gdańsk
The second International Research Agenda awarded to the University of Gdańsk.
World-class scientists Prof. Marek Żukowski and Prof. Paweł Horodecki have received 35 million PLN to establish the International Centre for Theory of Quantum Technologies (ICTQT) at the University of Gdańsk. The strategic partner is the Austrian Academy of Sciences (the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information), one of the world’s best scientific centres in this field. The project is financed as part of the International Research Agendas (IRA) project run by the Foundation for Polish Science. At present, seven projects are being implemented in Poland as part of the International Research Agendas, with only two Polish universities, the University of Gdańsk and the University of Warsaw, receiving funding to establish no less than two innovative centres of excellence. A further and most recent International Research Agenda will be implemented at the Medical University of Gdańsk, which will greatly strengthen Gdańsk as a research centre.
International Research Agendas is a special programme by the Foundation for Polish Science designed to establish innovative centres of excellence in Poland, in which researchers from all over the world can conduct high quality scientific research concerning the current greatest scientific challenges. As part of the latest edition of the programme, three projects have received funding. The University of Gdańsk has received 35 million PLN to establish the International Centre for Theory of Quantum Technologies (ICTQT), headed by Prof. Marek Żukowski from the University of Gdańsk.
In the newly established Centre, scientists will conduct research into the fundaments of quantum physics, quantum communication and information and quantum technologies. The Centre’s activity will focus particularly on the development of new technologies, with stress on cybersecurity and new computational techniques i.e. research which will lay the foundations for future key branches of information technology such as the security and development of quantum internet, quantum computers and quantum networks and also the development of quantum simulation. Quantum codes are completely secure and breaking them would be equivalent to breaking the laws of Nature.
“The issues regarding quantum physics, and including quantum technologies, are considered to be the greatest contemporary scientific challenges. The new technologies remain within the scope of interest of not only scientists but also governments and large corporations. This year will see the start of a European programme to support this kind of research, the European Quantum Technologies Flagship, with the budget of 1 billion euros! The International Centre for Theory of Quantum Technologies at the University of Gdańsk fits into the imminent second quantum revolution”, says Prof. Marek Żukowski.
Prof. Marek Żukowski from the University of Gdańsk will be head of the International Centre for Theory of Quantum Technologies and of one of the research groups. He is an expert in quantum mechanics and quantum interferometry and the author of over 150 scientific works published, amongst others, in the world’s most important journals such as Nature or Physical Review Letters. Prof. Paweł Horodecki from the Gdańsk University of Technology will be the leader of a research group at the ICTQT. He is also an author of over 150 articles on quantum information theory and the basics of quantum mechanics, cited over 14,000 times.
The newly established Centre will consist of 6 research groups employing more than 30 people. The remaining leader and member of research group posts will be filled following fully transparent international competitions. From the University’s point of view, it is important that the groups provide places for doctoral and undergraduate students of the University of Gdańsk, who will have a chance to learn from the best specialists in the field. It should also be added that the University of Gdańsk is where the world-famous Gdańsk school of quantum informatics was born.
The foreign strategic partner will be the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IQOQI-Vienna), one of the world’s best centres in the field. As part of its activity, the Centre is also planning to establish cooperation with other research centres and industrial partners which conduct experimental research, with the intention, among others, of implementing the results of its work. One such place will be the Centre for Optical Quantum Technologies to be established at the University of Warsaw, also as part of the latest edition of the International Research Agendas by the Foundation for Polish Science.
A further and most recent International Research Agenda will be implemented at the Medical University of Gdańsk (Prof. Jan Dumański and Prof. Arkadiusz Piotrowski). Funding has been awarded to the project “Mutations acquired during lifetime that lead to increased risk for human disease, with focus on cancer” (Mutacje nabyte w ciągu życia, powodujące zwiększone ryzyko chorób ludzkich, ze szczególnym wskazaniem na raka). The strategic partner is Uppsala University (Sweden).
Dr Beata Czechowska-Derkacz
University of Gdańsk spokesperson
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The second quantum revolution is fast approaching. The first, which took place in the 20th century, concerned the creation and development of quantum theory. It was then proved that the laws governing these smallest of particles and named quantum mechanics are completely different from the laws of classical physics which refer to large objects. The first revolution made it possible to create such devices as quantum transistors or lasers. The imminent second quantum revolution means the creation of devices which employ the strangest, almost paradoxical, aspects of the laws of quantum mechanics or classically unimaginable and indescribable phenomena. The International Centre for Theory of Quantum Technologies will be the Polish answer to these challenges.
The International Centre for Theory of Quantum Technologies is a new research centre emerging at the University of Gdańsk as part of the International Research Agendas programme run by the Foundation for Polish Science. The Centre has been founded and will be headed by Prof. Marek Żukowski, with Prof. Dr hab. Paweł Horodecki as co-founder and leader of the Centre’s first research group.
The emerging quantum technologies will meet with multiple practical applications. Thanks to quantum mechanics, it is possible to construct devices and data processing protocols which would be impossible using classical methods. These include reliable cybersecurity systems (e.g. quantum cryptography, or unbreakable codes), super-sensitive quantum sensors (to be applied in chemistry, biology and medicine), atomic clocks and quantum computers (with classically impossible software and algorithms). In recent decades, European researchers, Poles included, have had numerous major successes concerning fundamental research into these technologies. However, the commercialisation of the results obtained has not been so spectacular. This is now going to change, with the results of research into quantum technologies translated into practical products with the help of the EU project Quantum Technology Flagship to be launched in 2018. Implementation is planned over a period of 10 years at a cost of one billion euros.
“Poland has an enormous research potential in the field of quantum mechanics but to play a major role in the Flagship programme, it needs new research institutions which will focus on quantum technologies, with appropriate funds at their disposal and able to employ the best international specialists. The International Centre for Theory of Quantum Technologies will be such an institution”, said Prof. Marek Żukowski. The foreign partner of the newly emerging Centre created by Prof. Marek Żukowski and Prof. Paweł Horodecki, will be the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, with the University of Gdańsk as its Polish partner.
Which issues in particular will be addressed at the International Centre for Theory of Quantum Technologies in Gdańsk? The new Centre’s founders mention, among others, “self-testing” quantum cryptography and totally secure cryptographic codes, true random number generators, various quantum communication protocols and conceptual work concerning quantum computers and their logic gates. “As regards quantum computers, we will be working on devising quantum software (algorithms) as well as well as computer architecture i.e. physical systems to implement these algorithms. Quantum informatics is a young discipline in which devising new methods is more important than refining the methods already in operation. For this reason, instead of striving to prove known hypotheses, we wish to put forward new solutions, protocols and ideas. We will be devising new methods as we go along and also combining seemingly unrelated methods from various sub-disciplines which have not been combined before”, stressed Prof. Paweł Horodecki.
As the researchers underline, this is a very good time for this kind of ambitious research initiative because quantum technologies are at present enjoying great interest from large commercial companies such as IBM, Google or Microsoft. In the near future this research may therefore bring enormous economic gain.
Prof. Dr hab. Marek Żukowski is a quantum physicist, graduate of the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry of the University of Gdańsk (UG). From the beginning of his academic career he has been linked with the UG (although he received his habilitation at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń). He is the Director of the Institute of Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics at the University of Gdańsk and an editor of the American journal “Physical Review”. He has been a visiting professor at many universities across the world such as the University of Innsbruck, the Tsinghua University in Beijing and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and currently the University of Vienna. He is a member of the Council of the National Science Centre. In 2013 he received the Prize of the Foundation for Polish Science. His best known work is the article in the “Physical Review Letters” (Żukowski, Zeilinger, Horne, Ekert; 1993) introducing the concept of entanglement exchange and general operational methods required for quantum teleportation and the construction of multiphoton entangled states. His other achievements include the experimental exclusion of a large class of nonlocal hidden-variable theories (Zeilinger et al., Nature; 2007) and the introduction of the new physical principle of Information Causality (Pawłowski et al., Nature; 2009).
Prof. Dr hab. Paweł Horodecki is a quantum physicist, graduate of the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of the University of Gdańsk. He received his Ph.D. (with distinction) at the Gdańsk University of Technology and his habilitation at the University of Gdańsk. He is currently employed at the Department of Theoretical Physics and Quantum Informatics at the Faculty of Applied Physics and Mathematics of the Gdańsk University of Technology. He is a member of the Council of the National Quantum Information Centre, which he has also co-founded. He is one of the creators of the Peres-Horodecki criterion (1996) which allows to determine whether a given quantum state is entangled (the article containing this result is the most often cited original research work in the entire history of the UG). He is also one of the discoverers of so-called bound entanglement (Physical Review Letters; 1998) and many fundamental laws of quantum information. Winner of the START Programme of the Foundation for Polish Science, a joint Rubinowicz Award of the Polish Physical Society and numerous awards from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.