This year’s ZEISS Symposium was on Optics in the Quantum World
Close cooperation between science and industry a key success factor; for two days, around 300 international experts discussed the future of and fields of application for quantum technologies in Oberkochen; ZEISS Research Awards presented to Swiss researchers.
For Dr. Ulrich Simon, Head of Research & Technology at the ZEISS Group, quantum technologies are becoming increasingly important. At this year’s ZEISS Symposium “Optics in the Quantum World,” he emphasized that “up until now, people have tended to underestimate the opportunities afforded by quantum technology.” The first specific product launches are expected in several areas in the next five to ten years. “The innovation cycles are becoming shorter, and it is important that companies like ZEISS commit to this technology. This will affect us more quickly than we thought a few years ago. In particular quantum sensors will prove important for our Medical Technology, Measuring Technology and Microscopy areas.” Quantum sensors are enhanced sensors that are many times more precise than their predecessors.
Europe will play a key role in the development of quantum technologies. According to a survey conducted at the ZEISS Symposium, nearly half of the 300 participants from science and industry anticipate that in 2030 Europe will be the world’s leading region for quantum technology. 39% expect it to be the Asia-Pacific region, 14% the US.
Prof. Dr. Michael Kaschke, President & CEO of the ZEISS Group, explained why the ZEISS Symposium focused on quantum technology: “Digitalization has transformed the world and is a product of quantum technology from the 20th century. “The first wave produced innovations like semiconductor technology and lasers. “Many people believe that 21st-century quantum technology will bring about a second wave that will further change the world.” For Kaschke, the close cooperation between science and industry is a key success factor. The ZEISS Symposium “Optics in the Quantum World” has helped foster this.
For the second time since 2016, ZEISS hosted a high-caliber symposium to promote the exchange of ideas between international researchers and representatives from industry. The experts convened at the company’s headquarters in Oberkochen for two days.
At the beginning of the Symposium, the keynote speakers Dr. Heike Riel, (IBM Research, Switzerland), Prof. Dr. Jörg Wrachtrup (University of Stuttgart) and Prof. Dr. Christine Silberhorn (University of Paderborn) presented the current state of their research. The discussion continued in workshops on subjects like quantum computers, quantum sensors and quantum communication. The results of this event will be developed further and then published as a White Paper on the ZEISS website.
At the closing panel of the Symposium, Dr. Michael Bolle, Head of Research at Bosch, and Dr. Wilhelm Kaenders, President of the company Toptica Photonics, discussed these topics together with the three keynote speakers. Bolle already anticipates the launch of the first quantum sensors in the next five years. Kaenders stressed that Europe needs lighthouse projects to convince the public that tax revenue should be used to support quantum technology. Moreover, the panel participants called for increased efforts to improve networking between physicists and engineers, and for setting up an ecosystem in order to bridge the gap between research and practice.
This year’s two award winners demonstrate how well-positioned Europe is in the sciences. Both researchers, Tobias Kippenberg, Professor at the Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), and Jean-Pierre Wolf, Professor at the Biophotonics Institute at the University of Geneva, were honoured for their achievements in the area of quantum physics over the past decades.
In his speech introducing the award winners, Dr. Jürgen Mlynek, Professor at the Humboldt University Berlin and former President of the Helmholtz-Association, emphasized what is special about their very different research areas. Wolf has used the laser to not only measure weather phenomena, but also to alter and control these. His goals include triggering targeted lightning strikes and managing their impact to ultimately prevent extreme weather. Kippenberg’s research has demonstrated that, by using micro-resonators, the faint forces exerted by light rays can be used to measure and cool mechanical movements in the quantum regime. It should be noted that four previous winners of the ZEISS Research Award went on to receive the Noble Prize.