Quantum technologies

Enabling technologies and algorithms for quantum computing

Quantum technologies at Fraunhofer IIS

At Fraunhofer IIS, we harness the distinctive properties of the quantum world and use them for practical applications. We are active in three main fields – quantum computing, quantum communication, and quantum sensing – with a focus on the first two at the current time. 

What sets us apart is the way we use our expertise to develop both the necessary hardware and algorithms, and already have future applications in our sights.

We design and develop electronic components for the efficient control and manipulation of quantum systems. This includes components from the high and ultra-high frequency range as well as fast electronics for real-time processing. In addition, we apply our expertise in circuit integration and information transmission to develop electronic systems for maximum qubit scalability and extremely high control qualities. In doing so, we also consider interfaces to algorithms with a view to practical applications.

Quantum computing at Fraunhofer IIS

The technologies we develop include special electronic components for quantum computers. This involves combining many different areas of expertise from within our research fields:

  • Design of low-power microelectronics
  • Integration and packaging
  • Microwave and antenna engineering
  • Complex signal processing

With this research activity, we are helping to scale up quantum computers and take them from the basic research stage to market maturity. We are also working on how to use quantum algorithms for machine learning and optimization problems.

Our expertise in deep learning, reinforcement learning, and mathematical optimization enables us to develop hybrid algorithms that combine the worlds of traditional and quantum computing. These can be used to find better results more quickly for time-critical and compute-intensive applications in the fields of logistics, imaging, and 6G. 

We also solve optimization problems that arise when actually using a quantum computer. For example, highly complex optimization issues arise when translating a quantum algorithm to the specific quantum hardware, and our work is helping to resolve these.


Quantum communication at Fraunhofer IIS

We develop modular nanoelectronics for quantum communication. Our expertise here includes:

  • The design of a modular microelectronics platform for quantum key exchange
  • Adapted design methods for basic components (ADC, DAC, chiplet interface) of quantum communication systems
  • The development of powerful and reliable nanoelectronics
  • Establishment of an application center for the design of scalable electronic systems for quantum communication
  • Establishment and operation of physical quantum communication links to partner institutes in preparation for building a network in Germany (medium term)

Our research contributes in particular to the development of the electronic components needed for quantum communication. The focus lies on achieving maximum efficiency, universal use, and miniaturization of these systems.

Quantum technologies: the art of controlling and using elementary particles

Some 100 years after the development of quantum theory by scientists such as Max Planck, Werner Heisenberg, and Erwin Schrödinger revolutionized our understanding of physics, we now have the tools at our disposal that will allow us to turn this knowledge into technological applications.

The aim is to specifically control elementary particles and their properties and to use them for a wide variety of applications. For systems as small as this, the laws of quantum mechanics apply – laws that run completely counter to our intuition of physics.

After many years of basic research, we are now at the start of the “second quantum revolution.” This will have far-reaching consequences for industry, the world of science, and technology. 

Key terms and definitions

A quantum computer is a computer that harnesses the power of quantum phenomena. It can solve certain problems much faster than any supercomputer. Potential applications include complex optimizations, e.g. in logistics, manufacturing, and finance, as well as efficient simulations for the fields of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, nanotechnology, and quantum-based machine learning. A wide variety of companies and scientific disciplines will be able to benefit from this technology by connecting to data centers or special clouds. 

A qubit is the basic processing unit of a quantum computer. It enables information to be stored and processed not only in binary code as either “0” or “1” but also in both states simultaneously in a superposition. There are various ways to implement qubits physically, such as in superconducting circuits, ion traps, and photons. 

Decoherence: A quantum state is very sensitive to interference from its surroundings. Its process of “decaying” over time through different channels is known as decoherence. Qubits therefore have to be isolated in a technologically complex procedure; one way of doing this is by cooling them to near absolute zero. 

Quantum measurement and control: Where quantum processor and classic control electronics meet, there is a need for specialized, integrated microelectronics. One of the things this has to do is control and read individual qubits in a quantum computer. The hardware has to satisfy high standards with respect to speed, quality, and low power loss.

Quantum communication takes place via a communication system of “entangled” photons, in which any attempt at eavesdropping is immediately apparent. The exchange of communication works with special devices over fiber optics, via open-air laser beams over short distances, or via satellites. The vision is to build a secure network for critical infrastructure, government institutions, industry, or even private users. 

Quantum sensing: The sensitive nature of quantum states can be exploited to build highly sensitive sensors. The goal is to integrate these to the extent that they can be used for many medical, technological, and scientific applications. One already established application for precise time determination is the atomic clock.

Further information

Fraunhofer Competence Network Quantum Computing

Understanding and using qubits: Since January 2021, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has had exclusive access to a quantum computer operated by IBM at its location in Ehningen, Baden-Württemberg. In Germany, this has ushered in a new era of technology that connects stakeholders from research and industry, builds expertise in the area of quantum computing, and paves the way for the practical application of qubits. Fraunhofer also offers access opportunities for external partners such as universities or companies.

Fraunhofer Strategic Research Field Quantum Technologies

The seven Fraunhofer strategic research fields form the core focus of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft’s research portfolio. The Quantum Technologies research field pools the expertise and activities of the Fraunhofer institutes.

Munich Quantum Valley

In collaboration with other renowned institutions from across the scientific and research community, we are active members of Munich Quantum Valley (MQV). Under this alliance, we pool our expertise and work together in the fields of research, development, and education to establish Bavaria, Germany, and Europe as a major hub in the important future field of quantum sciences and technologies.


Quantum Business Network (QBN)

Fraunhofer IIS is a member of the Quantum Business Network (QBN). QBN brings together experts from the scientific community, industry, and politics to work toward technological advancements in the field of quantum technologies.