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Quantum Phenomena for the New Digital Age

The Peter Grünberg Institute (PGI) is dedicated to the discovery and interpretation of new phenomena in condensed matter, the development of novel materials and functional structures at the nano- and quantum-scale as well as innovation in experimental and theoretical methods. All our research has a special emphasis on potential long-term applications in information technology and related fields. Our special focus lies on quantum materials, quantum computing and neuromorphic computing.

More than half a century of Jülich expertise in solid state physics, the physics of thin layers, surfaces and interfaces, as well as in materials science has been brought together in the PGI. Advancing fundamental research to pave the way for novel technological concepts in information technology - this motto encapsulates the work of Peter Grünberg, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2007. This is also the guiding principle of the Peter Grünberg Institute which was named after the famous scientist.

For the period 2015 – 2019, research at the Peter Grünberg Institute was defined mainly within the Program Future Information Technology (FIT) of the Helmholtz Association (HGF), of which Forschungszentrum Jülich is a member. This program has been carried out in close collaboration with the Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin für Energie und Materialien (HZB). It was structured into four topics, which address relevant state variables in the physics of information technology and electronic phenomena: (1) Controlling Charge-Based Phenomena, (2) Controlling Spin-Based Phenomena, (3) Controlling Configuration-Based Phenomena and (4) Controlling Collective States.

HGF-ProgramStructure of the HGF Program "Natural, Artificial and Cognitive Information Processing" and participating Helmholtz Centres.

For the period 2021 – 2027, our research will be defined mainly within the new HGF Program Natural, Artificial and Cognitive Information Processing. Our partners in this program will again be the HZB and additionally the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). The Program has a set of five specific objectives detailing its overarching aims for the fundamental improvement of energy-efficient, high-performance IT. The Peter Grünberg Institute is involved in three of them, together with our internal and external partners: 

1. Quantum Materials:

TopologicalMatterTopological matter has fascinating properties and great potential for use in information technology.
Copyright: FZJ

We will explore quantum materials to unlock new paradigms arising in physical systems – including spin, topology, configurations and correlations – as a future means to store and process information.

Contributing PGI Institutes: PGI-1, PGI-3, PGI-6

2. Quantum Computing:

QuantumComputingDetail from a two-dimensional integrated circuit component for error-tolerant quantum computing. The qubits are coloured green in the illustration.
Copyright: Forschungszentrum Jülich

We will scale up quantum information processing devices, develop qubit control electronics and build a prototype quantum computer.

Contributing PGI Institutes: PGI-2, PGI-8, PGI-9, PGI-11

3. Neuromorphic Computing:

NeuromorphicSchematic sketch of memristive synapses based on a filamentary switching mechanism (left) and an area-dependent interface-type mechanism (right).
Copyright: FZJ

We will address all levels of the neuromorphic approach to computing, from materials to circuit design and system integration.

Contributing PGI Institutes: PGI-7, PGI-10, plus two more institutes that have yet to be built.

Participation in Other HGF Programmes

PGI-4, in combination with the Jülich Centre for Neutron Science, will take part in the POF programme "From Matter to Materials and Life" of the Research Area "Matter".  In the topic "Materials -  Quantum, Complex and Functional Materials", PGI-4 scientists will tackle challenging problems in materials research with their large-scale facilities, advancing the understanding of quantum materials, nanomagnetic and correlated electron systems.

PGI-5, in combination with the Ernst Ruska-Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons, will take part in the programme “Materials Information Discovery” through the development of a unified digital materials characterization platform, which will provide quantifiable information about materials and processes from structural, morphological and spectroscopic data, as a basis for creating digital twins of materials that span entire life cycles. These activities will also involve the creation of a Joint Lab on “Model Driven Materials Characterization” together with Helmholtz centres in Karlsruhe and Geesthacht.

PGI-6 will take part in the POF programme "Matter and Technologies“ in the Research Area "Matter”.  As part of the topic “Accelerator Research and Development, ARD", PGI-6 scientists will work on the laser-wakefield acceleration of electrons in order to improve the beam parameters of bright secondary radiation sources ranging from high-field THz, through to soft X-rays and gamma rays. Another challenging goal is to generate, for the first time, polarised particle beams using high-power lasers.

Examples of Current Research Projects

OpenSuperQ – a European Quantum Computer

Neuro-inspired artificial intelligence technologies






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