Quantum Technology studies begin at Aalto – Pioneering physics student Artturi Jalli is already programming the IBM quantum computer
The Quantum Technology major is one of the five study options in the Aalto Bachelor’s Programme in Science and Technology. The new Quantum Technology major offers students an innovative and cross-disciplinary education that combines mathematics, computer science, and quantum physics. The major offers a solid basis for further studies at the master’s level, and is taught entirely in English.
“The Quantum Technology courses are tailored for students with a strong desire to develop real-world applications that utilize fundamental quantum phenomena, for instance a quantum computer. The degree programme has access to a large pool of dedicated teachers from different fields of science and engineering, and we intend to develop collaborative learning and research projects with companies and other research institutions,” says Professor Christian Flindt.
The courses are tailored for students with a strong desire to develop real-world applications that utilize fundamental quantum phenomena.
The international growth of the quantum computing industry is estimated to be about 30% annually. Many companies, including IBM, Nokia Bell Labs, and Microsoft, are now investing heavily in quantum computing and other quantum technologies. According to Nature Physics, the rapid expansion of the quantum technology industry will lead to a variety of job opportunities for future quantum engineers.
Quantum engineering is already strong at Aalto University. Professor Jukka Pekola leads Quantum Technology Finland – Centre of Excellence funded by the Academy of Finland and headed by Aalto University. Furthermore, the Quantum Flagship launched by the European Union will provide funding of one billion euros to more than five thousand researchers for the next ten years. The Finnish company BlueFors, founded by former Aalto researchers, together with the research group of Senior Scientist Mikko Möttönen are involved in a research project aiming to build a hybrid high-performance quantum computer. The research groups of Professors Lauri Parkkonen and Zhipei Sun are also participating in Quantum Flagship projects, for instance on metrology and nano-photonics.
Quantum programming as a summer job
Artturi Jalli, an engineering physics student at Aalto, has always been interested in physics, quantum mechanics, and computers. In 2018, he had the opportunity to program the IBM quantum computer as part of a summer internship in the research group of Professor Christian Flindt.
Anyone can actually sign up and program the quantum computer remotely.
“I ran basic quantum algorithms via a direct internet connection to the IBM quantum computer in New York. Anyone can actually sign up and program the quantum computer remotely. It is even available for free through their cloud service platform on the internet,” says Jalli.
Artturi Jalli found out that even though the IBM quantum computer is still in its infancy, it can already execute several basic quantum algorithms. Jalli used one of those simple algorithms to build a quantum game with four virtual cups and a ball hidden under one of them. Based on the principles of quantum mechanics, the ideal quantum computer could almost always find the hidden ball in the first guess.
“Quantum computers have the potential to completely outperform conventional computers, and I think one cannot even imagine how efficiently they will be able to solve certain types of problems, such as database searches and prime number factorization, which has important implications for secure communication,” says Jalli.
There are a total of five study options available in the Aalto Bachelor’s Programme in Science and Technology: Chemical Engineering, Computational Engineering, Data Science, Digital Systems and Design and Quantum Technology.