Quantum physicist Jens Eisert receives ERC Advanced Grant

Jens Eisert: The quantum physicist receives the ERC Advanced Grant of 1,8 million euros over five years for his project DebuQC.

Jens Eisert: The quantum physicist receives the ERC Advanced Grant of 1,8 million euros over five years for his project DebuQC. © privat

Prof. Dr. Jens Eisert conducts research at the Dahlem Center for Complex Quantum Systems at Freie Universität Berlin and heads the joint research group with HZB for quantum computing and simulation. With his award-winning research project "DebuQC", he wants to explore the metaphorical boundary of the classical and quantum worlds. It is already his third ERC grant that Jens Eisert has received. The professor of theoretical quantum physics and his team want to clarify essential research questions about quantum technology and also explore the limits of this promising technology.


Future technology quantum computers

Quantum technologies – and quantum computers in particular – are considered to be enormously promising when looking ahead to the future. Once a strange, exciting, and – above all, theoretical – idea, key players in science and industry are now in the position to actually construct quantum computers. Large companies such as Google and states such as China, the USA and Germany, for that matter, are investing enormous sums of money in developing these new technologies. Proponents of this technology claim that quantum computers will be able to solve problems that even the fastest supercomputers today cannot solve – and all this within a reasonable amount of time. As such, the expectations surrounding these ‘computers of the future’ are very high. 

“Unlike conventional computers, quantum computers are not subject to the traditional laws of physics. They are based on the principles of quantum mechanics, which means that the computing unit makes use of individual atoms or ions, i.e., tiny, controlled physical systems. Quantum simulators have the potential to solve many of the simulation problems we face in the fields of chemistry, material sciences, or the physics of condensed matter,” says Eisert.

He also emphasizes that, from an academic perspective, quantum technology gives rise to many important and exciting questions. Perhaps the biggest question of all: What are quantum computers actually capable of? What are the questions that we can realistically ask quantum computers to solve in new and exciting ways and which tasks remain beyond their abilities? How can we systematically approach such questions?

DebuQC Project

The “DebuQC” project aims to explore the metaphorical limits of both our classic world and the quantum world. Supercomputers may get us to a certain point, Eisert notes, “And after this point, we would hope that quantum effects would then more prove advantageous. But where does this point lie? How many errors and how much noise can quantum computers tolerate? How can we realistically expect to apply quantum computers in practice? And which areas are they less well-suited to? Where might conventional methods still be the better option?” he asks.

“DebuQC” is an interdisciplinary project aimed at taking a fresh look at ideas and methods from the fields of physics, mathematics, and IT, says Eisert. This is the only way for the researchers to make tangible progress. After all, the main drive behind the project is the desire to find out what is experimentally possible – and not to simply follow the hype.

Eisert and his team are not the only ones interested in answering these questions. Many members of the research landscape in and around Berlin, for example, the MATH+ Cluster of Excellence (investigating application-oriented mathematics), Collaborative Research Center 183 (aimed at better understanding entangled states of matter), the Einstein Research Unit on Quantum Devices (in which Eisert himself acts as Chair), and the Berlin Quantum Alliance are also currently investigating quantum technologies and their potential applications.


Professor Eisert studied physics and mathematics at the University of Freiburg. He also attended the University of Connecticut, USA, after receiving a Fulbright scholarship. He received his doctorate in theoretical physics from the University of Potsdam in 2001. A Humboldt Research Fellowship brought him to Imperial College London where, after having completed a junior professorship, he soon took up his first permanent academic position as a lecturer. He also spent time at the California Institute of Technology, USA, as a visiting scholar. During this time, he successfully applied for a European Young Investigators Award, the precursor to the ERC Starting Grant. He later returned to Germany, taking on a professorial post at the University of Potsdam in 2008 before spending a year at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin as a fellow. Since 2011, he has been employed as a full professor for theoretical physics at Freie Universität Berlin. Primarily based at the university’s Dahlem Center for Complex Quantum Systems, he has since been awarded his second and, now, his third ERC Grant. He is also affiliated with the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin and the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute. Professor Eisert is one of the world’s most cited researchers in the field of quantum computing and the study of complex quantum systems.

News from the ERC

With ERC Grants, the European Research Council supports outstanding scientists who want to implement risky but potentially groundbreaking research ideas. An ERC Advanced Grant is considered one of the highest awards for experienced researchers.

FU Berlin

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