Technical University of Denmark: DTU to develop quantum technology in NATO centre

The NATO alliance has as one of its highest priorities to be at the forefront technologically. This is because rapid developments in disruptive technologies – such as quantum technologies – can have a decisive impact on the global balance of security and power.

Therefore, based on a bid from Denmark, NATO has decided to establish a quantum technology centre on Danish soil. This entails the establishment of test facilities at DTU for the development and fabrication of quantum technology solutions. It can for example be the development of quantum computers that can perform unprecedented calculations, quantum encryption devices that can prevent hacking and quantum sensors.

“Denmark and DTU have an internationally leading position in research in quantum technology, and we are now on the verge of being able to realize quantum technology in products and applications for sensors, communication, encryption, and computing. Test facilities and a vibrating innovation eco-system will be a crucial lever for bringing research and technology to products,” says Rasmus Larsen, Executive Vice President, Provost at DTU.

Positions of strength clarified
The idea is that the test facilities at DTU, among others, will serve as an innovation hub where new ideas in the quantum technology area are developed and tested.

In addition, an accelerator site anchored at the Niels Bohr Institute will ensure that companies can get help to mature their solutions and make them ready for the commercial market.

“It’s truly exciting, because we’re facing the development of a whole new generation of chips and devices that could change the way we live. In this connection, the collaboration highlights DTU’s unique infrastructure in the form of cleanroom facilities for making, for example, microchips and sensors,” says Jörg Hübner, Director of DTU Nanolab, who has been involved in the Danish application to NATO.

In addition to the cleanroom, DTU has an extensive quantum research environment within the disciplines of physics, photonics, and chemistry. Here, it is envisaged that cooperation on the NATO Centre can accelerate that research benefits society.

“In the quantum field, it’s an extra challange to transfer research to technology. Testing, demonstrating, and raising capital takes a long time, so it is particularly exciting for DTU to get test facilities for this very purpose,” says Jane Hvolbæk Nielsen, who as Head of Department at DTU Physics has also been involved in the design of the Danish bid.

Quantum technology is security technology
Ahead of the decision on a Danish NATO centre, the heads of state and government of the NATO member states pushed technology development to the top of the agenda at a summit in 2021. Among other things, through the initiative NATO’s Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA).

The purpose of DIANA is to keep NATO at the technological forefront internationally through close cooperation with, e.g., the business community and universities such as DTU.

“Quantum technology is security technology because quantum technology will be able to push computing and encryption to new heights. It’s therefore important for Europe and NATO to have access to the technology, including to university graduates and researchers. Both now and in the future, DTU wishes to contribute and make a great effort in this context,” says Rasmus Larsen .

The bid for a NATO quantum centre was prepared by the research institutions the Niels Bohr Institute, DTU, Aarhus University and the Danish National Metrology Institute. This was done in cooperation with the authorities and the business community. The bid was supported by the Minister of Defence, the Minister for Higher Education and Science, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs.