Exploiting quantum technologies for industrial applications

Fraunhofer IAF establishes an application laboratory for quantum sensors

Press release / January 15, 2020

In order to advance the transfer of research developments from the field of quantum sensor technology into industrial applications, an application laboratory is being established at Fraunhofer IAF. This will enable interested companies and especially regional SMEs and start-ups to evaluate the innovation potential of quantum sensors for their specific requirements. Both the state of Baden-Württemberg and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are supporting the four-year project with one million euros each.

The kick-off for the QMAG project took place on 14.5.2019. Six Fraunhofer Institutes and two universities are researching quantum magnetometers for industrial applications.
© Fraunhofer IAF / Tilman Vogler
The kick-off for the QMAG project took place on 14.5.2019. Six Fraunhofer Institutes and two universities are researching quantum magnetometers for industrial applications.
Minister Hoffmeister-Kraut informed herself about the growth of diamond at IAF during a visit.
© Fraunhofer IAF
Minister Hoffmeister-Kraut informed herself about the growth of diamond at IAF during a visit.
In the application laboratory, a quantum magnetometer is being set up that can measure the smallest currents in semiconductor circuits.
© Fraunhofer IAF
In the application laboratory, a quantum magnetometer is being set up that can measure the smallest currents in semiconductor circuits.

The application laboratory is being set up as part of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project »QMag«, short for quantum magnetometry. In this project, researchers from six Fraunhofer institutes, in collaboration with the universities of Stuttgart and Boulder, Colorado (USA), are developing quantum sensors for the highly sensitive detection of magnetic fields. In order to strengthen the transfer of these quantum sensors into industrial and medical technology applications, Fraunhofer IAF will put several quantum magnetometers into operation in the new application laboratory to make them available to partners from science and industry.

Funding by the state of Baden-Württemberg and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

The state of Baden-Württemberg will provide funding of one million euros for the establishment and operation of the laboratory. »We want Baden-Württemberg to play a leading role in the creation of value with quantum technologies in the future. With its infrastructure, the new application laboratory will in particular support our industrial companies and SMEs in integrating the innovation potential of quantum sensor technology into the development of new products,« said Minister of Economic Affairs Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, explaining the decision. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is providing co-financing of one million euros. Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, stated: »Developments in quantum sensor technology are a central factor in our competitiveness in international high-tech markets. Of crucial importance is the fastest possible transfer of research results into applications and the market. The new application laboratory at Fraunhofer IAF will make an important contribution here to economically exploit the innovation potential of quantum sensors.«

Evaluation, comparison, use

The quantum magnetometers in the application laboratory are individually optimized for use by companies and are thus suitable for evaluating a wide range of industrial applications. A platform for service and contract measurements will also be created so that industrial customers can compare the performance of quantum sensor technology with that of classical sensor systems. To facilitate the use and operation of quantum sensors, software packages will be developed that can be adapted to the requirements of the respective application.

Increasing industrial demands for more accuracy

Many industrial sectors are currently experiencing rapid technological development towards ever more precise monitoring and controlling of their production. The increasing demands on accuracy and drift stability of sensor systems will require a technological leap towards quantum sensor technology in the near future. However, research on this topic has so far been conducted within the academic framework and the quantum sensors developed have proven to be too large and not robust enough for use in innovative products. This applies to the booming semiconductor industry, for example. »Methods used to date for measuring the smallest leakage currents in semiconductor components are very complex and expensive and are therefore only available to a very limited extent. Quantum magnetometry now has the potential to become a standard method for the development, characterization and deviation analysis of integrated circuits,« said Dr. Helmut Angerer, Senior Manager Failure Analysis at Infineon Technologies. Areas such as medical technology, security technology, navigation, geology and satellite-based earth observation will also benefit from a faster transfer of quantum sensor research into industrial applications.

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