Together towards a quantum computer
The common intersection of interests in the regions of Boston and Basel are primarily based on the life sciences, an area in which these regions are global leaders. But in the shadow of the strong life sciences, yet another plant has blossomed in the past few decades in both areas: nanotechnologies (technologies in the area of one millionth of a millimetre).
Both want to play a bigger role in the land of the dwarfs
Both regions have recognised the potential of these technologies, both have the solid basic capabilities to make these small seedlings of ideas truly blossom.
In Basel, for example, nanotechnology has been produced for years: Basis is the chemical industry which produces varnish, paints, components for solar cells and much more. An important nucleus in addition to these companies is the Swiss Nanoscience Institute (SNI) at the University of Basel.
At the same time, according to estimates there are currently over 100 start-up companies in Boston which work with nanotechnologies. There are also important initial seedlings of work in this area with the world-renowned universities Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard.
Basel and Boston: No quantum without solace
What is less well known, however, is the fact that Harvard, MIT and SNI maintain a close collaboration in the area of quantum computing. The claim can be made that these institutions here are among the top in the world. The goal of the research efforts is to implement a quantum computer.
The driving forces on the Basel side are both physics professors Daniel Loss and Dominik Zumbühl. Loss developed a theoretical concept that describes, how a quantum computer could work. His idea to build a quantum computer was the most cited scientific paper of the University of Basel in the years 1996 to 2006.
«For nanotechnology, the collaboration between the regions of Basel and Boston means that two regions are working together to achieve one goal: the construction of a quantum computer», Loss explains. «It means that we work with our American colleagues in a collaborative instead of a competitive fashion».
The collaboration between the Boston and the Basel researchers is also expressed through the organisation of joint research events. In 2008, for example, a three-day «Nano-Workshop» took place in Basel which was opened by Tony Leggett, Nobel Prize laureate in physics.
Why is there a need for a quantum computer?
A quantum computer would overshadow all of today's computers – if it is ever built. A quantum computer would not compute with 0 and 1 but could perform a large number of operations simultaneously due to quantum mechanical overlapping. Quantum computers could solve certain calculations which now take years within hours. However, experts estimate that it will take ten to twenty years until the quantum computer becomes a reality.
An innovative network: «i-net Basel»
i-net BASEL aims to promote innovation in the Canton of Basel-Stadt.It supports and drives forward highly promising developments in specific fields of technology, such as nanotechnologies. i-net BASEL brings together suppliers, customers and research organizations to create impetus for joint innovation and to ensure sustainable added value is produced in the innovation process.