Launch of the research fab for quantum and neuromorphic computing

Cooperation "FMD-QNC" aims at accelerating industrial application of latest quantum and neuromorphic computing hardware


Jena (Germany) | January 16, 2023


Numerous research projects in Germany address quantum computing as well as neuromorphic computing. However, there are still insufficient opportunities for application-oriented testing of the hardware developments as well as for a rapid implementation of the results in prototypes. A new research alliance aims to change that in the future: The "Forschungsfabrik Mikroelektronik Deutschland" (engl.: "Research Fab Microelectronics Germany") launched the "Quantum and Neuromorphic Computing Module" (FMD-QNC) in December 2022 to bundle expertise and transfer it more quickly into industrial applications. The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF is a member of this new alliance.

The future of computing has great possibilities in store for us: be it promising advances in artificial intelligence, augmented reality, or even comprehensive, computer-assisted simulations, for example in chemistry and pharmaceuticals to speed up the development of new medications and vaccines. These new possibilities will make life safer and more efficient in the future. However, these applications require enormous computing power. Conventional computers quickly reach their limits. Quantum computing (QC) and neuromorphic computing (NC) offer promising solutions for making computers of the future significantly more powerful. They are considered to be the essential foundations of "Next Generation Computing".

© Fraunhofer Mikroelektronik
Logo "Research Fab Microelectronics Germany - Module Quantum and Neuromorphic Computing".

Numerous basic research projects in the fields of QC and NC are therefore already underway all over Germany. Nevertheless, there are still insufficient opportunities for application-oriented testing of the hardware developments, as well as for a rapid implementation of the results in prototypes and small series. The "Forschungsfabrik Mikroelektronik Deutschland" (FMD) aims to close this gap. To expand and bundle microelectronics research structures in Germany, the 13 institutes of the FMD have now launched a joint project with the four Fraunhofer Institutes IMWS, IPM, ILT, and IOF as well as the Jülich Research Center and AMO GmbH in December 2022: The "Forschungsfabrik Mikroelektronik Deutschland - Modul Quanten- und neuromorphes Computing", in short: FMD-QNC. The aim of the project is to jointly expand existing expertise and accelerate its transfer to industrial application. To this purpose, an infrastructure for groundbreaking research and development in the fields of QC and NC is to be set up in terms of equipment and structure.

In the FMD-QNC alliance, the partners will jointly develop solutions for the — often extreme — operating environments, such as vacuum, cryogenic temperatures, or electromagnetic shielding of quantum and neuromorphic computers. This will set the process and technological requirements for design, fabrication, and characterization of chips for neuromorphic computing as well as various QC technologies (superconducting, neutral atom, trapped ion, and quantum dot based).

Neuromorphic computing: key technology for artificial intelligence

Neuromorphic computers are based on the structure of a biological nervous system. They are designed to emulate the self-organization and thus learning capabilities of a brain. They are therefore considered a key technology in the field of artificial intelligence. In neuromorphic computing, the tasks of neurons in the brain are performed by CMOS memristors, for example, which are connected to each other via synapses in a similar way to neurons. Neuromorphic computers thus have enormous potential in recognition, analysis, and prediction of patterns and have high application potential in areas such as medical diagnostics or speech pattern recognition.

A quantum computer, meanwhile, allows much faster and more efficient work than a conventional computer. Unlike a classical computer, which can only "think" in two states, namely zero and one, the quantum computer makes use of quantum effects such as entangled photons. In this way, its computational units, so-called "QuBits", can assume several states simultaneously.

© Fraunhofer Mikroelektronik
With the "Research Fab Microelectronics Germany - Module Quantum and Neuromorphic Computing", a new, Germany-wide cooperation for the development of the future hardware foundation for novel computing technologies has been launched.

Cooperation partners of FMD-QNC


The FMD-QNC project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and is complemented at the European level by the "PREVAIL" project, which is starting at the same time. The PREVAIL project is bringing together four European research organizations — CEA-Leti, Fraunhofer, imec and VTT — to establish a networked 300 mm technology platform for the fabrication of chip prototypes used in advanced artificial intelligence and neuromorphic computing applications.

In addition to Fraunhofer IOF, the "Forschungsfabrik Mikroelektronik Deutschland - Modul Quanten- und neuromorphes Computing" includes the following partners: ForAMO GmbH, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Fraunhofer Research Institution for Microsystems and Solid State Technologies EMFT, Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems ENAS, Ferdinand-Braun-Institut gGmbH, Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques FHR, Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich Hertz Institute HHI, Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF, IHP GmbH - Leibniz Institute for Innovative Microelectronics, Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS, Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology IISB, Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits IMS, Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS, Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM, Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS, Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT, Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology ISIT, Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM.

© Fraunhofer Mikroelektronik
Partners of the "Research Fab Microelectronics Germany - Module Quantum and Neuromorphic Computing".

About the Research "Forschungsfabrik Mikroelektronik Deutschland"


The "Forschungsfabrik Mikroelektronik Deutschland«" (FMD) as a cooperation of the Fraunhofer Group for Microelectronics with the Leibniz Institutes FBH (Ferdinand-Braun-Institut, Leibniz Institute for Highest Frequency Technology) and IHP (Leibniz Institute for Innovative Microelectronics) is the central contact for all questions concerning micro- and nanoelectronics in Germany and Europe. As a one-stop shop, FMD has been combining scientifically excellent technologies and system solutions from its 13 cooperating institutes from the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and Leibniz Association into a customer-specific range of products and services since 2017. Under the virtual umbrella of FMD, the largest association of its kind in Europe has thus been created, with more than 4,500 employees and a unique diversity of expertise and infrastructure. From 2017 to 2021, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research supported the modernization of the research infrastructure of all 13 participating institutes.