May 20, 2022

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Quantum researcher Leo Kouwenhoven leaves Microsoft

Quantum researcher Leo Kouwenhoven leaves Microsoft

Physics professor Leo Kouwenhoven has left Microsoft. The American technology company confirms this Norwegian Refugee Council after Message at de Volkskrant† Since 2016, Kouwenhoven has been working on a Microsoft quantum computer. beginning of last year A research group led by Kouwenhoven withdrew the scientific publication due to data processing problems. According to Kouwenhoven himself, his departure from Microsoft has nothing to do with this.

Quantum computers are likely to have a huge computing power. Technology companies Google and IBM already have a working quantum computer. It is still under development at Microsoft.

The American company was excited about Kouwenhoven’s quantum computer research. Professor Delft attempted to confirm the presence of Majorana particles in nanowires. These particles can be used as bits (bits a quantum computer uses for computations). According to theorists, Majorana particles exist, but there is no experimental evidence for this yet.

Quantum Lab

In 2016, Kouwenhoven became director of a new laboratory at the TU Delft campus, where Microsoft’s quantum computer is being developed. Kouwenhoven has left Microsoft since this month. „This is related to a change in the gradient approach Quantitative StatisticsMicrosoft spokesperson via email. “We wish Leo all the best for the future and thank him for his time at Microsoft.”

Kouwenhoven’s research has been under discussion since last year. In 2012, he published the first tentative evidence for the existence of the Majorana particle. In 2018, he wrote in a new study in the journal nature That thanks to improved research materials, he has now definitely found it. That was world news. But last February, the 2018 publication was withdrawn. The reason for this is that researchers at the time did not mention that only part of the data confirmed the discovery of the megarana. There are now doubts about his department’s other studies. Last February, the Integrity Commission of TU Delft a second investigation for the way the researchers processed the data.

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Are these issues surrounding the investigation the reason for Kouwenhoven’s departure from Microsoft? Kouwenhoven himself does not say: “Microsoft will focus less on basic research and more on the industrial side. My focus was on the basic. I left with good consultation.” A Microsoft spokesperson did not say anything about the reason for leaving.

Team from Copenhagen

Another Microsoft team claimed in Copenhagen beginning of this week to take a step in their search for the marjoram molecule. This team uses a different approach than the Kouwenhoven team. “Maybe Microsoft is setting a new path with other researchers at its helm,” Carlo Bennacker says by phone. He is a physicist at Leiden University. “This has nothing to do with the hype surrounding Koenhoven’s prints.”

In recent years, Kouwenhoven has been an unappointed Professor of Physics at TU Delft. That is, he did not receive his salary from the university. QuTech reported that this situation has not changed Norwegian Refugee Council† QuTech is the Quantum Institute at TU Delft and TNO. Kouwenhoven supervises twelve QuTech PhD students. Continue it.

Addendum 19:10: This post has been supplemented by a response from Leo Kouwenhoven