Two ERC Advanced Grants for KIT Scientists

European Research Council funds projects by Mehdi Tahoori and Alexey Ustinov with a total of more than five million euros.

Double success for KIT: The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded the computer scientist Mehdi Tahoori and the physicist Alexey Ustinov one Advanced Grant each in the 2021 award round. For their research projects in the fields of computer engineering and quantum physics, the two renowned scientists will receive funding of about 2.5 million and 2.7 million euros, respectively, over the next five years.

Receiving an ERC Advanced Grant each: Mehdi Tahoori (left; photo: Martin Lober, KIT) and Alexey Ustinov. (right; photo: Anne Cordts, KIT)

"Mehdi Tahoori and Alexey Ustinov are breaking new ground with their interdisciplinary research projects, which can lead to groundbreaking insights in science. I am very pleased that the European Research Council supports their excellent work with two of the highly prestigious Advanced Grants," says Professor Oliver Kraft, KIT Vice President for Research. "Their projects in computer science and physics are as ambitious as they are forward-looking and offer great potential to advance basic research for the digital transformation of our society."

Smart Computing with Printed Electronics

For example, Mehdi Tahoori, professor of reliable nanocomputing at KIT's Institute of Computer Engineering, wants to use the PRICOM project (which stands for: Printed Computing) to enable the spread of fast, inexpensive, and reliable (mini) computers in the consumer market and in personalized medicine. "In this way, we can not only generate economic benefits, but also improve quality of life in a very tangible way," emphasizes the computer technology expert and electrical engineer. PRICOM's focus is on the development of new computer architectures that are based on the principle of additive manufacturing rather than on silicon chips, as has been the case in the past. Sensors equipped with printed electronics that are to be implemented directly in the respective product can integrate more components, process information better and visualize it for users. Possible areas of application include fast-moving consumer goods such as food or custom-made medical products and medications. "Whether in the pharmacy or the supermarket, we can all benefit from these smart products," Tahoori is convinced. With his interdisciplinary team, he now wants to develop solutions that are suitable for transfer.

Quantum bits with a high clock rate

Alexey Ustinov, professor of solid-state physics at the KIT Institute of Physics, has dedicated himself to the development of a new generation of superconducting quantum bits. "Qubits" form the elementary computing units for operating a quantum computer. In the Milli-Q project (stands for: Millimetre-Wave Superconducting Quantum Circuits), they are to be further developed in such a way that they will operate more stably and energy-efficiently in the future. To take quantum computing to a new level, the operating frequency of the qubits will be increased from today's average of ten gigahertz to one hundred gigahertz. "This is a big step that we hope will bring many technological benefits," says Ustinov, who has been researching quantum circuits for more than two decades. Among other things, the new quantum processors should be able to operate at much higher temperatures than before, thus reducing the high infrastructure and energy costs that have so far had to be spent on cooling. The primary goal is to get an overall picture of the physical properties of quantum circuits at temperatures around one Kelvin. "If our research approach is successful, we will have reached another important milestone on the way to a superconducting quantum computer for processing exponentially growing amounts of data," Ustinov emphasizes.

ERC Advanced Grants 2021

With the ERC Advanced Grants, the European Research Council (ERC) funds established top scientists with an outstanding scientific record who want to open up new research areas. The scientific work from the last ten years prior to the application is decisive for the evaluation. 1735 researchers participated in the 2021 call. The ERC awarded Advanced Grants for a total of 253 projects in 21 countries with a total funding volume of more than 624 million euros, 61 of which were at German universities and research institutions. The approval rate is 14.6 percent. (sur)

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