Quantum Computing: Promise Of The “Third-Gen Semiconductor Material”

Florian Kaiser will receive €4m in funding over five years through the FNR PEARL programme for his project to enhance quantum computing. He shares more on the challenges in the field and its vast potential.

Source : siliconluxembourg.lu
Publication date : 01/10/2024


Florian Kaiser heads the quantum materials group at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), and his project, AQuaTSiC (short for “Advanced Quantum Technologies with Silicon Carbide”), aims to enhance quantum computing through silicon carbide, or what Kaiser calls a “third-generation semiconductor material”. 

His recent funding award to the tune of €4m is an exciting one for him, as it will allow him to staff up his team in the coming years, to help in the research of silicon carbide and its use to enhance scalability in quantum computing. 

Europe leading the way

Silicon carbide (SiC), as the name implies, uses both silicon and carbon, and the semiconductor can operate at high temperatures and voltages. “What’s very cool about silicon carbide is that Europe is the global market leader,” Kaiser explains. “So European companies—Infineon and STMicroelectronics, also now Bosch coming—have 70% of the global market share, which is crazy.” In February, Wolfspeed—the global leader in SiC production—also announced its plans to build a facility just over the Luxembourg border, in Saarbrücken. 

It’s indeed an area where Europe is taking a lead: according to Data Bridge Market Research, the silicon carbide market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2021-2028 of 21.5%. The material has a wide range of uses, from rapid-charge batteries in e-vehicles to semiconductors for a variety of applications. 

The plus side of the material, according to Kaiser, is that it’s purely artificial, yet “there’s no biohazard associated with it… it’s safe for the body.” It’s a purely artificial material that doesn’t naturally occur on Earth, “only on some meteorites”, and it has similar optical properties to diamond.  On the other hand, Kaiser admits it’s energy-intensive, requiring extremely high temperatures to heat and produce. 

Short- and long-term prospects

With the FNR Pearl Chair award, Kaiser hopes to double or triple his staff, up to 10-15 over the next few years. He’d also like to use the funding to show that two quantum computers can securely talk to each other. What also excites him in the near outlook is “to develop industry-compatible processes… there aren’t many groups that have this on their radar, apart from a company like [US-based] PsiQuantum.” 

He hopes the tech processes can become more affordable in the coming years as well. Looking forward 20 years, Kaiser would also love to see a “quantum internet, where everyone can access a quantum computer in a secure way—not like today, where you send a problem to IBM and, hopefully, they solve it for you.”

Natalie A. Gerhardstein



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