Innovation in tackling the challenge
It is clear that only a large scale collaborative effort can realistically address our goals. Our network aims at providing an anchor and checkpoint for the disperse communities involved in quantum technology. We believe that AtomQT is essential to establish the synergies required. Our network involves the main EU actors in each sub-field and combines the necessary complementary expertise. AtomQT will intertwine applied mathematics, theoretical computer science, quantum information and technology, photonics technology, atomic and molecular physics, and condensed matter/solid state physics. Hence we will facilitate the integration of a remarkably wide variety of technological, experimental and theoretical techniques that are mature in their respective subfields.
By involving industrial partners we will establish cross-fertilization between science and industry research perspectives to deliver market-ready devices. This feature is decisive and puts our effort in an advantageous position with respect to international competitors. We will put specific efforts to form a young generation of researchers with a new interdisciplinary profile resulting from the integration between the subfields involved in our research. We will establish an online forum and create off-line open spaces and science festivals organized by the stakeholders.
Added value of networking in relation to the challenge
The AtomQT network joins the major experts on the experimental, theoretical and technological aspects of ultracold atom physics and technology, from its fundamentals to its applications. From the fundamental side, this includes the study of quantum coherence with matter waves, quantum correlations, effects of interactions, novel quantum phases, entanglement, etc. Concerning applications, the network partners are experts in atom interferometry, sensing, metrology, highprecision tests, gravimetry, etc., with several partners being involved in individual developments towards technological and commercial exploitation. Putting together all this expertise, the network will allow a much more efficient exchange of ideas and concepts, and will lead to a faster transfer of fundamental concepts towards applications.
The network will allow participants to share intermediate and preliminary results and enter into new collaborations by enabling visits among groups involved in the network and the organisation of meetings and common conferences. The possibility of travelling, meeting other experts in the same domain and exchanging ideas will be especially important for the formation of the new generation of researchers in quantum technologies, e.g. PhD students and post-docs. In conclusion, this network will provide the essential funding to shape this emerging community.
AtomQT presents a unique chance for Europe to coordinate and consolidate the multiple efforts around the topic of fundamentals and applications of ultracold atoms to quantum technologies.
Existing efforts at European and international level
Quantum technologies are now seeing an unprecedented rise in activity. It is clear that now is the time for Europe to face this challenge to consolidate its technological lead or else to see companies from the US and Asia take the most benefit from its commercial exploitation. Without a concerted effort to coordinate and facilitate the exchange of information, there is a great risk of wasting much of the new resources provided. As stated in the EU working document: An ambitious coordinated strategy to support joint science, engineering and application work, including IPR, standardisation, market development, training and public procurement will be needed. This is exactly what AtomQT is striving for.
At the European level, the strategy for quantum technologies is still largely fragmented with a few strong national initiatives, e.g., in the UK and Denmark, and a European COST action on the rather specialized aspect of quantum technologies in space. The need to exchange ideas on an international scale led to the first ever Atomtronics conference held in Benasque in 2015. While this single event already produced a number of novel ideas and new collaborations, a sustained effort is needed.
AtomQT will focus on cold-atom quantum technologies for fundamental and ‘real-world’ applications on Earth. We stress that no similar network structure exists on this size in Europe, nor anywhere else in the world. There is a COST network on quantum technologies in space, which is aimed at large collaborations dedicated exclusively to the exploitation of quantum technologies specifically for space missions. Only a few smaller, disconnected networks of Future and Emerging Technology (FET) actions exist in Europe (MatterWave, iSense, COQUIT etc.), which are limited to a few groups and do not federate the whole community.
On a national scale, there are large differences among the countries in terms of funding possibilities. Only a few countries such as the UK and The Netherlands have invested significantly in quantum technology hubs. In the UK the investment in quantum technology reaches £270m. However, this scale of investment is not realised in most of the other EU countries, which display a large, dangerous delay with respect to international competitors (i.e. USA, Singapore, China) and cannot afford on a national scale the funding of such an initiative.
AtomQT presents an excellent opportunity for an EU action to play a major role in shaping the scientific strategy on a worldwide scale and help Europe to develop key technological resources.