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A digital coffee with Adam from Orange QS
Today we are invited into the home of Adam Lawrence. Unfortunately, we are not able to enjoy his coffee since we are only digitally present in his kitchen. Adam is an engineer at Orange QS in Delft. After working at ESA, the European Space Agency, Adam ended up at Orange QS as a quantum engineer. We talk about his journey so far and what it is that makes Orange QS unique in its efforts.
When Adam did his Ph.D. in the UK, he was working on quantum computing. During that time, he set up qubits and made sure that experiments could be done using those qubits. However, this is not done easily in practice. “You could spend a whole day of work setting up a two-qubit gate.” And this is a problem that occurs quite often if you do experiments in quantum physics. Setting up your quantum device takes a lot of time as you constantly need to calibrate and control your system, which is a manual task.
Adam and his former team in the UK were not the only ones having problems setting up quantum computers. When they were building one of the first quantum computing devices at QuTech, engineers found out that integrating all the components of a quantum computer was far from an easy task. However, they succeeded in making this work. And it is this ability, to integrate all the complex components of a quantum computer, that Orange QS is working on. Orange QS is thus a system integrator. This means that they ensure that all the components of a ‘full-stack ’quantum computer can talk with each other.
I had recently joined the company and within months I was running real quantum experiments. It normally doesn’t run that smoothly. During my PhD I was spending a lot of time and hard work to even get to the stage where I could do quantum experiments. It’s a clear example of how closely connected the Quantum Delft ecosystem is, that these companies can come together and put their off-the-shelf components together and get it to work so quickly.
-Adam Lawrence, Quantum Engineer at Orange QS.
This ability is part of a larger scope. “We are focussed on accelerating R&D in quantum computing. We don’t build the quantum computer ourselves, but we are working with academic groups, research institutes, and businesses to build full-stack quantum computing set-ups that you could do research on or use to test and characterise devices.” This saves the end-user of the quantum devices valuable time.
Orange QS builds the architecture which makes sure that all the components in a quantum device work together. As a user, you can thus run your quantum experiment, sit back, and let the quantum device do the work. Or as they say it themselves: “Take the task of software development out of academia.”
But this is not the only thing that Orange QS is working on. Together with another Delft-based quantum startup Qblox, they design the open-source platform ‘Quantify’. Adam: “I think of it as the operating system that your quantum computer is running on.” This open-source framework can be used to control and run quantum experiments on a quantum device. This application again saves a significant amount of time when running experiments on quantum systems.
This partnership with Qblox is not unique in the Dutch quantum ecosystem. Orange QS is also part of the ImpaQT project. Here, several quantum startups work together to realise a full-stack, fully functioning quantum computer, using off-the-shelf components. In this project Orange QS is responsible for the system integration and making sure the system is properly calibrated, characterised, and controlled. In only 3 months they were able to run quantum experiments on an 8-qubit chip.
For Adam, this was a very positive experience. He says, “I had recently joined the company and within months I was running real quantum experiments. It normally doesn’t run that smoothly. During my Ph.D., I was spending a lot of time and hard work to even get to the stage where I could do quantum experiments. It’s a clear example of how closely connected the Quantum Delft ecosystem is, that these companies can come together and put their off-the-shelf components together and get it to work so quickly.”
In the Dutch ecosystem and in the world of quantum computing as a whole, Orange QS has the ambition to become a system integrator. As quantum computers are expected to become more powerful, these systems have to scale up to multiple qubits and the systems thus become more complex to control. Orange QS develops tools that are scalable and help to save useful time for the users of the quantum systems. Adam hopes he can let the software do the work that he spent a lot of time on during his Ph.D. So for future Adams, help is underway!
📷 Photos by Rebekka Mell, taken at TNO’s Quantum Information Technology Testing facility (QITT), which is an open testing facility that meets the specific market need for an independent, confidential, proprietary test laboratory.