Promoting international quantum research – New building at Paderborn University receives funding from the federal government and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia
The NRW construction and real estate management service BLB NRW is constructing a new, state-of-the-art building for cutting-edge research at Paderborn University. The Photonic Quantum Systems Laboratory, or PhoQS Lab for short, is seeking to become an international centre for quantum photonics. The groundbreaking ceremony on 21 March with Minister of Science Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen represented the beginning of work on the new building, which is expected to have an impact beyond just NRW itself.
The Institute for Photonic Quantum Systems (PhoQS) at Paderborn University is gaining a new research building. BLB NRW is constructing a new four-storey building on the campus, with a partial floor for the technology required. In the future, the Photonic Quantum Systems Laboratory (PhoQS Lab) will enable researchers from the fields of physics, electrical engineering, computer science and mathematics to join forces and collaborate. Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, Minister of Culture and Science for the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, travelled to the site for the groundbreaking ceremony. The Minister highlighted the importance of the building project for nationwide research: "Amid global competition for brightest minds, Paderborn University’s new research building is a strong indicator of North Rhine-Westphalia’s performance and achievements. Our state is the driving force behind the development of quantum computing in Germany. The density of universities and non-university research institutes working in this area is unparalleled anywhere else in the country. NRW is the only state to have research institutions covering the four most promising approaches to technology platforms for quantum computing both in general and in depth – a key prerequisite for future progress. Paderborn University is bringing its strong expertise in this field to the new state-wide quantum computing network ‘A Quantum NRW’, where it is serving as a vital partner. With the new research building, we as the state government are working with Paderborn University to further develop this strong position in the research and development of quantum technologies."
Cutting-edge research of national importance
Researching photonic (i.e. light-driven) quantum technologies is particularly vital for key optical technologies, with a very broad spectrum of applications ranging from communication technologies to sensors. "The new PhoQS Lab building offers space for developing visionary research topics and creates a state-of-the-art specialist infrastructure for further developing photonic quantum research on a national and international level. Together with the Institute for Photonic Quantum Systems (PhoQS) led by Professor Christine Silberhorn, Paderborn University is now gaining a unique interdisciplinary centre for quantum photonics", explained Professor Birgitt Riegraf, President of Paderborn University. "The project has already been awarded the top score of ‘outstanding’ by the German Science and Humanities Council. We are delighted that this decision is clear recognition of Paderborn’s expertise in the profile discipline of Optoelectronics and Photonics, and that we are gaining an even higher quality research environment in the PhoQS Lab", added Simon Probst, Vice-President of Operations. The federal government and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia are jointly funding the research building with a total of around 60 million euros. This was based on a positive assessment by the German Science and Humanities Council, Germany’s top advisory board for science.
A certified sustainable building
It is not just the research conducted in the building that will be pioneering – the building itself also represents a step forward in sustainable construction. Through the intended certification (silver standard under the sustainable construction rating system) for environmental, economic, sociocultural, functional, and process-based and technical quality, this new laboratory building will combine a state-of-the-art research environment with exceptional levels of sustainability. "This certification has now become the standard for all new BLB NRW buildings, but when the PhoQS Lab was being planned, this was not the case. The fact that the new building meets it regardless shows that we are focusing on the sustainability of our buildings as the state’s real estate company", explained Gabriele Willems, CEO of BLB NRW. For example, the compact building structure will feature a photovoltaic system on the roof of the research building, a highly insulating building envelope, and a hugely efficient heat recovery system.
Space to research the second generation of quantum systems
The total of 3,740 m2 in the planned building will play host to 2,340 m2 of laboratory space. The particular challenge: nearly half of the laboratory space will be ‘clean rooms’, meaning that the concentration of airborne particles is very low. "We are delighted that with the PhoQS Lab, we are gaining a unique infrastructure that will provide a significant boost to our high-tech research amid global competition. At PhoQS, we work together closely as colleagues from a variety of subject areas to create something new in the field of quantum photonics, and put fundamental research into practical use", explained Professor Christine Silberhorn, head of the Institute for Photonic Quantum Systems and spokesperson for the PhoQS Lab.
A variety of modern technologies are already based on the principles of quantum mechanics. Examples include lasers and semiconductor technologies such as computers and the internet, which are described as the first generation of quantum technology. In the PhoQS Lab, researchers from the fields of physics, mathematics, electrical engineering and computer science will seek to work on second-generation quantum technologies. These technologies are based on the targeted manipulation of individual and coupled quantum systems, and in the future will enable new opportunities that go beyond conventional physics. The aim is to develop new research approaches, both for technology development in photon-based quantum applications and for establishing new theoretical and experimental concepts. From tap-proof communications, to measurements at hitherto unachievable levels of precision, to quantum computers with huge computational power: the range of possible applications is huge.
Project technical data:
Usable area 1-6: 3,740 m²
Net room area: 6,862 m²
Gross floor area: 7,911 m²
Gross volume: 40,562 m³
Offices and communications: 1,350 m²
Optics laboratory: 1,340 m²
Clean rooms: 1,000 m²
About BLB NRW
BLB NRW is the owner and landlord of virtually all real estate for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. With around 4,100 buildings, rental space of around 10.4 million square metres, and annual rental income of around 1.4 billion euros, BLB NRW manages one of the largest real estate portfolios in Europe. Its services include the development and planning, construction and modernisation, and management and sale of real estate with hugely complex technical and architectural specifications. BLB NRW employs more than 2,500 staff across seven branches. Find out more at www.blb.nrw.de.