Supporting the future of quantum research

University connections remain important to Riverlane. After all, the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge is where the very seeds of Riverlane were planted by our CEO Steve Brierley. In addition to our annual internship programmes, we continue to nurture links with academia by part-funding two PhD students in their quantum studies: Jonas Schuff, at the University of Oxford, and Sam Griffiths, who is based at University College London.

Jonas Schuff
Jonas Schuff, PhD student at Oxford University

Originally from Germany, Jonas is completing his studies at the Department of Materials at Oxford, as part of a small group of PhD students. His work focuses on quantum dot systems and isolating electrons. Quantum dots are regions in a semiconductor where an electrostatic potential is created in such a way that single electrons are isolated. Those electrons can be used for quantum information processing. Jonas commented, “isolating electrons is extremely difficult and is usually done by hand. Finding a way to automate the process would allow for scaling up to millions of qubits”.

Before his time at Oxford, Jonas spent a term in Singapore studying quantum information and computation. “I love quantum physics because it’s a completely different way of looking at information. You can’t just make a classical algorithm ‘quantum’, you have to come up with completely new ideas. Its potential is incredible.”

Jonas is regularly in touch with Anton Buyskikh, Quantum Engineer at Riverlane, to learn about Deltaflow, our operating system for quantum computers, and how to use Deltalanguage, which allows for computational models to be represented as a graph. They are trying to get their two systems to work together so that Jonas can use Deltalanguage when running his experiments.  

Jonas will be joining Riverlane for a three-month internship early next year to gain experience of working in industry.

Sam Griffiths
Sam Griffiths, PhD student at UCL

Sam Griffiths is focusing on quantum error correction at UCL. This is another vital element to tackle in the scaling up challenge. The volatility of qubits means that information is readily lost when we interact with them, so novel methods are needed to make quantum computers fault-tolerant despite this setback. Sam uses topological codes which perform error correction by mapping qubits onto surfaces and applying classical graph algorithms. With a wide range of possible approaches, he is simulating and benchmarking how this might be done on real near-term hardware. Sam is in regular contact with James Cruise, Principal Quantum Scientist at Riverlane, for catch ups and support. 

Sam’s background is in computer science. He completed his undergrad studies and master’s degree at UEA. He became interested in quantum theory, and commented, “Personally, I had to push to study quantum – at my university, at least, there was no clear route into quantum information and computing from computer science as opposed to a background like physics.” As the quantum landscape continues to evolve, we hope that these invisible barriers will disappear and the link between computer science and quantum becomes much more well-established.

What does Sam think about the current state of quantum computing and what the future might bring? “There is a lot of hype around quantum, it seems to have a sci-fi quality to it which can bring both enthusiastic attention but also many misconceptions.” He is, however, optimistic about the future of quantum technology, “I think the main deployment in the near-term will be the ability to access large scale cloud-based quantum processors to conduct big computational projects, for areas like scientific simulation, drug discovery and machine learning.”

Both Jonas and Sam are due to complete their PhD programmes in 2024. It will be interesting to see what technological strides in quantum computing will unfold between now and then. In the meantime, Riverlane will continue to support individuals studying quantum science at university and we hope that quantum becomes a mainstream career option very soon.


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