Q-day may still be somewhere far in the future. However, that is not hindering cautiously optimistic investors from putting their money into the oh-so-seductive promise of quantum technology.
Latest in line to be on the receiving end of such confidence is Dutch startup Orange Quantum Systems. The company, which builds quantum chip test equipment, just raised €1.5mn in pre-seed funding to support the emerging industry’s transition from “lab to fab.”
There are many challenges to scaling quantum technology. Decoherence, error correction, and qubit quality and consistency are all issues that need to be addressed, to say nothing of the algorithms, hardware complexity, and energy consumption.
Orange Quantum Systems (Orange QS) is targeting one specific aspect of the quantum supply chain scalability puzzle — the “bottleneck” of testing quantum computer chips efficiently.
A quantum computing chip serves as the processor for quantum computers. Testing them is a crucial step in ensuring their reliability and functionality. Without diving too far down the quantum rabbit hole, currently, testing quantum chips requires weeks in a dedicated cryogenic facility and supervision by highly skilled engineers.
First turnkey quantum chip testing solution
Earlier this year, Orange QS launched a complete room temperature equipment stack it says guarantees automation of quantum chip testing, with said automation supported by a suite of proprietary software libraries. This is not a new approach for testing computer chips, but doing it for the quantum kind requires specific quantum expertise.
“Testing quantum chips is an expensive, slow, and difficult process, because it relies on a high-tech lab environment, manual workflows, and PhD-level operators,” explains Dr Adriaan Rol, director of research and development at Orange QS. “If the quantum computing value chain wants to increase the number of high-quality qubits per quantum chip, it will need industry-level foundry processes combined with fast test equipment.”
The funds raised will go toward developing Orange QS’ “next generation” test equipment, which will be “the first turnkey solution optimised for high-speed qubit testing.” In addition to the €1.5mn from QDNL Participations and Cottonwood Technology Fund, the startup has also won a grant from the European Innovation Council’s EIC Accelerator.
Located in Delft, the Netherlands, Orange Quantum Systems was founded in 2020 as a spinout from TNO (the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research). Currently, it consists of 17 employees, and boasts top advisors with experience at ASML and NXP.