Leo Koenhoven, a prominent quantum researcher and founder of QuTech at TU Delft, has left Microsoft. He had started working there in 2016 based on his research on the Majorana quasi-molecule, but the results on that were withdrawn last year.
De Volkskrant reports Based on confirmation from Microsoft that Kouwenhoven stopped working for the US software company from Redmond earlier this month. Microsoft told the newspaper that the termination of the partnership was linked to “a change in approach to scalable quantum computing.” Microsoft does not provide an additional explanation. The company wishes Kouwenhoven well in the future and thanks him for his time at Microsoft.
De Volkskrant asked Koenhoven to respond. The researcher indicated that he could not say anything about his departure and that he hoped to be able to provide more information at a later time. “I have a plan for that,” he says. It is assumed that there are still provisions regarding confidentiality. This may explain why he hasn’t said anything at this point. TU Delft is also still conducting an integrity investigation. Kouwenhoven also declined to say whether he would return as a researcher at TU Delft. There he still has a zero hour contract after switching to Microsoft. TU Delft told de Volkskrant that this date is still valid.
Kouwenhoven reached the claim in 2018 That there is conclusive evidence for the existence of a Majorana quasiparticle. This could pave the way for quantum qubits based on these particles. The researchers themselves published a The search in which they expressed all their doubts And in May last year Delta Books, the digital press platform of TU Delft, is also about skepticism. In March 2021 I acknowledge Researchers make mistakes. The claim that they observed Majorana quasiparticles can no longer be maintained. Two former Kouwenhoven employees discovered that there had been unauthorized cut-and-paste and that the results were based on unreliable analyses. This eventually led to the research article being pulled from 2018.
This issue was and still is a setback for QuTech and Microsoft. The company had high expectations To use Majoranas as qubits, due to the potential strength and therefore scalability of a quantum computer with those qubits. Microsoft has not yet given up on this ambition and search for particles. Monday I mentioned the company that his research lab in Lyngby, Denmark, actually succeeded in making majoranas. The results are not yet public. Christian Schönenberger, a professor of quantum physics at the University of Basel, told de Volkskrant newspaper that we must be very careful in interpreting this. He asserts that it is very difficult to prove the existence of Majorana.
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