One of IBM's quantum computers. Bosch is partnering with IBM in Material Science innovations.

Bosch joins IBM Quantum Network. Photo of one of IBM’s Quantum Computer. Credit: Bosch Media/Press

Bosch is the one of the latest companies to join IBM’s Quantum Network. This announcement at the IBM Quantum Summit last week underscores the ground work large corporations are laying down to experiment, familiarize itself with quantum computing technology so that they reap dividends later as the technology matures.

Alternatives to Rare Earth and Discovering New Materials

Bosch wants to find alternates to precious metals and rare earths that are a necessity in industrial manufacturing. China today has a near monopoly in the supply of some of these materials today. Bosch believes, given the complexity in identifying properties of new materials, quantum computing will give them an edge over conventional computers. “For Bosch, materials for applications in the fields of electromobility, renewable energies and sensor technology play a particularly prominent role,” explains Thomas Kropf, head of Bosch Research.

Bosch is working with IBM in “simulating materials for very specific application areas,” says Dr. Stefan Hartung, chairman of the Bosch board, and “in return we gain deeper insights into the power and applicability of quantum computing including hardware.”  Some potential areas of impact could be “improved perovskite phase stability diagrams for fuel cells, enhanced defect engineering for sensing, realistic catalytic and reaction rates, and predictable magnetic properties.”

This spending in quantum computing is part of Bosch’s larger investment in digital transformation – by 2025, Bosch will have invested €10 Billion in digitalization and connectivity. Currently Bosch has about 30 quantum experts.

Quantum Sensing startup

Earlier in the year, Bosch set up a new start-up unit to commercialize quantum sensors. This was borne out of 7 years of experience in quantum sensors. Bosch has also been involved in eight publicly funded quantum sensing projects. As Jens Fabrowsky, the executive vice-president of Bosch Automotive Electronics explains: “Quantum technology is pushing the boundaries of what is possible – in both data processing and sensors. Above all, the aim is to increase the broad practical benefit of quantum effects – for everything from the development of carbon-neutral powertrains to neurological diagnosis. Bosch has been doing extensive research in quantum sensing for many years now, and we see ourselves as global leaders in this area. Now we also want to use this as a basis for future business models.” McKinsey estimates the market for quantum sensors to grow to as much as $7 Billion.

Potential for Medical Applications

The start-up, led by CEO Dr. Katrin Kobe, has about 15-20 people in it. Bosch expects to use the sensor technology in building out medical applications. Because of quantum sensor’s ability to detect individual quantum states, these sensors are very precise. As a way to illustrate this precision, Bosch believes “quantum technology will allow measurements to be carried out that are nearly 1,000 times more accurate than those done by today’s MEMS sensors (MEMS stands for micro-electro-mechanical system).” Detecting neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, capture nerve impulses, controlling artificial limbs are potential implications with the use of quantum sensors.  

November 2022