A researcher in quantum physics at the University of Strathclyde has received a Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) Senior Research Fellowship, to support an industrial partnership in the development of quantum computers with M Squared, with the potential to help discover new medicines and improve communications.

Dr Jonathan Pritchard, a Reader in Strathclyde’s Department of Physics, is receiving the fellowship for a partnership with M Squared, a globally leading photonics and quantum technology company. The fellowship aims to establish a blueprint for the next generation of neutral atom quantum computing hardware able to achieve large-scale, fault-tolerant performance.

Unlocking the full potential of quantum computing to address real-world problems across a range of industries, from material design and drug discovery to logistics and communications, will require a large number of high-quality, low-noise and error-corrected qubits. These are two-level quantum systems on which information is encoded.

This project will develop an advanced architecture for quantum computing capable of implementing robust quantum error correction protocols. Based on dual-species arrays of individually trapped neutral atoms in a cryogenic environment, they will overcome the major barriers to scaling by addressing both fundamental science and essential engineering challenges.

Dr Pritchard said: “Neutral atoms have emerged as a highly-competitive platform for scalable quantum computing due to the ability to create large arrays of high-quality and identical qubits, leading to significant development in both academia and industry.

“This RAEng Senior Research Fellowship will provide an exciting opportunity to develop the next generation of neutral atom platforms able to implement quantum error correction to create scalable quantum hardware capable of both advancing our understanding of fundamental science and providing ground-breaking solutions to a wide range of addressing practical applications in everyday life.”

“This project will strengthen my team’s close collaboration with M Squared, with whom we have worked in close collaboration through the EPSRC Prosperity Partnership SQuAre. Through this project, we develop internationally leading neutral atom system hardware which supports the core system architecture of M Squared’s commercial neutral atom quantum computing system named Maxwell, a first in the UK.

“Working with the Royal Academy of Engineering we will broaden engagement to bring quantum computing out of the physics silo and into the engineering domain.”

The partnership between Strathclyde and M Squared is one of 10 which the Academy is supporting between academia and industry.

Dr Graeme Malcolm OBE, Founder & CEO of M Squared, said: “This project will support vital research into the development of neutral atom quantum computing hardware. Quantum computation will be a fundamentally new and more powerful way of processing information – one that will enable a myriad of new applications.

“Our partnership with the University of Strathclyde is a demonstration and example of the science community harnessing the enormous benefits of collaboration between world-leading research institutions and industry in the quest to develop quantum technologies.

“Glasgow is uniquely placed to bring together industry and academia at the leading edge of innovation and play a globally significant role in shaping the future during these defining years for quantum computing technology.”

Professor Máire O’Neill OBE FREng, Chair of the Academy’s Research Committee, said: “I am always impressed and encouraged by the ingenuity of engineers in developing and harnessing new technologies that address our many societal and global challenges and deliver public benefit. When research engineers partner with industry the solutions they deliver together can be transformative and these latest appointments illustrate this perfectly—the breadth and scale of their potential impact is truly exciting.”