A celeb­ra­tion of quantum

The special symposium “IQST: A Decade of Quantum Advance­ments — Past, Present, and Future” in Stutt­gart was a celeb­ra­tion of the first 10 years of IQST, and of quantum science and techno­logy as a whole.

When the Center for Integ­rated Quantum Science and Techno­logy (IQST) was founded in 2014, it was one of the first of its kind in the world. Its ‘found­ing fathers’, Wolfgang Schleich (Ulm Univer­sity) and Tilman Pfau (Univer­sity of Stutt­gart), had the clear vision that a holistic approach was needed to advance quantum science in general and the emerging field of quantum techno­logy in partic­u­lar. To harness unique proper­ties of quantum systems for innov­at­ive techno­lo­gies, physi­cists, chemists, engin­eers and poten­tial users have to work hand in hand and develop novel theor­et­ical and exper­i­mental concepts, imple­ment them in practical systems, and estab­lish new capab­il­it­ies in well-chosen applic­a­tion to ultimately exploit their full potential. 

This cross-disciplinary approach became a hallmark of IQST. In her opening address, IQST Director Stefanie Barz (Univer­sity of Stutt­gart), who leads the centre since 2022 together with Fedor Jelezko (Ulm Univer­sity), gave a broad overview of what this means in practice. The IQST network has mentored more than 125 PhD students across scientific discip­lines, funded more than 80 collab­or­at­ive projects, welcomed 105 visit­ors, awarded eight teacher-student schol­ar­ships and six family-support grants, and sponsored 32 confer­ences. The community fostered exchange through dedic­ated IQST Days, sympo­sia, workshops and PhD retreats, reached out to the public in trade shows and by engaging with school classes, and secured an impress­ive volume of external funding for projects at the heart of the IQST mission.

A decade of growth

Over this past decade, the field of quantum techno­lo­gies has gained an aston­ish­ing momentum, attract­ing a huge number of research­ers across academic discip­lines and indus­tries world­wide. Stake­hold­ers in science, policy and educa­tion, as well as the general public, are also becom­ing increas­ingly aware of and inter­ested in the ‘second quantum revolu­tion’ and its promise to lead to new gener­a­tions of techno­lo­gies for comput­ing, commu­nic­a­tion and sensing. This growth is directly reflec­ted in the devel­op­ment of IQST, which had 23 fellows in 2014 and today brings together 52 research­ers and their groups. The network now extends beyond the three core insti­tu­tions — the Univer­sity of Stutt­gart, Ulm Univer­sity and the Max Planck Insti­tute for Solid State Research in Stutt­gart — bring­ing into the IQST family colleagues from other insti­tu­tions in Baden-Württemberg with whom IQST research­ers have collab­or­ated for many years. Major new initi­at­ives have emerged as well, in which the IQST and its members play central roles, such as QuantumBW, which was launched last year. 

The driving role of IQST in the wider ‘quantum ecosys­tem’ in Baden-Württemberg was also an aspect that Wolfram Ressel, Rector of the Univer­sity of Stutt­gart, and André Schmandke, Head of Research and Innov­a­tion Policy & Research in Life and Natural Sciences at the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts, emphas­ised in their welcome addresses. The vibrancy of the IQST community was evident in the talks given by IQST Fellows, which covered the full spectrum of quantum science and techno­logy, but also in the way the IQST community — especially young scient­ists — inter­ac­ted during the discus­sion and poster sessions and at the confer­ence dinner, seizing the oppor­tun­ity to network with the many friends and colleagues from academia and industry who had come to Stuttgart. 

Natur­ally, the IQST activ­it­ies take place in a highly active inter­na­tional envir­on­ment. It was there­fore a partic­u­lar privilege and pleas­ure that many esteemed colleagues from around the world were able to join our celeb­ra­tion. The engaging plenary talks by Ivette Fuentes (Univer­sity of Southamp­ton), Mutsuko Hatano (Tokyo Tech), Pascale Senel­lart (Univer­sity of Paris Saclay), Michelle Simmons (Univer­sity of New South Wales), Andreas Wallraff (ETH Zurich) and Gregor Weihs (Univer­sity of Innsbruck) provided an exquis­ite overview of some of the most excit­ing research going on in the field today.

A bright future

Quantum techno­logy is a young field, and the symposium demon­strated how attract­ive it is not only academ­ic­ally, but also for those with an entre­pren­eur­ial spirit. During the IQST Start-up Session, repres­ent­at­ives from Swabian Instru­ments, Printop­tics, QC Design, NVision, Diatope and 21 Semicon­duct­ors gave an inspir­ing insight into the wider economic and societal impact that quantum techno­lo­gies will have.

As IQST enters its second decade, the future could not be brighter. Quantum techno­lo­gies are rapidly becom­ing avail­able for applic­a­tions in ever new fields, opening up new uncharted fronti­ers to be explored, creat­ing new needs for the emerging quantum-technology ecosys­tem, and present­ing new oppor­tun­it­ies and challenges to promote quantum science and techno­logy in a society that is increas­ingly aware of the poten­tial of quantum techno­lo­gies. This makes our holistic approach as relev­ant today as it was when IQST was founded.

Full programme

Photo credits: Jan Will