An ion-trap quantum computer for Europe. Research project funded by the Quantum Technology Flagship

The qubits: ions

We use ions, single-charged atoms, as qubits. Information is encoded in the electronic state of ions that are confined using electric fields. Operations are performed with tailored laser pulses that modify the state of the ions.

The processor: ion-traps

Ion-trap quantum computers are in the unique position to readily provide optical interfaces and high-fidelity local operations. 

Multiple ion-trapping potentials can be connected deterministically by physically transporting ions across micro-scale segmented ion traps, which forms an architecture for a scalable quantum information processor. Single photons emitted by the ions can be used to connect remote ion traps, thus forming the basic building block of a quantum network.

View into the vacuum chamber with the linear ion trap inside.

Trap details

AQTION will use microfabricated multi-segment traps capable of storing ion-strings with up to 50 ion-qubits. The use of standardized industry microfabrication methods will reduce the production costs per trap and provide a reproducible world-leading performance of the implemented operations.

View of a segmented trap inside the cryostat through the addressing viewport.

Modular approach

AQTION will integrate the building blocks for such a large-scale system and realize an optical interface to interconnect two ion traps with 50 qubits each.

While realizing a 50-qubit quantum computer is a challenging feat by itself, a long-term viable approach must be scalable beyond 100 qubits.  Connecting two such traps demonstrates the capability of our approach to scale to hundreds of qubits and more – both short-distance for quantum computing and long-distance to interconnect quantum devices with quantum encryption guaranteeing security given by the laws of physics.

Control system

The envisioned scalable control system includes the required electronics to manipulate quantum registers consisting of 50 ions.


A scalable optics unit will have the capability to simultaneously address each individual qubit in a 50 ion register.

Multi-laser system and modular optical distribution

AQTION plans to develop a scalable, quantum-compatible multi-laser system and a modular optical distribution system that is industry-compatible and mounted in 19’’ rack units.

Software Stack

Within the AQTION project, a dedicated software stack with multiple layers of abstraction will be devised:

  • Ranging from high-level user interactions to physical control of the hardware.
  • Ranging from a hardware-independent high-level quantum programming language, over a quantum compiler, down to the point of system-specific optimized control access. 
  • Each layer of this stack will be optimized to be used by a specific user-group, from hardware-agnostic quantum programmers to ion-trapping specialists.