Information processing is today at the heart of all sciences and has an impact of our everyday's life. Computers are very fast, classical switching machines that can solve problems by stepping very quickly through sequences of gate operations realized by changing currents and voltages in electronic devices. Over the last decades computing power was increased by going to ever smaller devices that hold, store and process information in terms of binary digits (bits). It is foreseeable that this cannot continue forever since very soon the single atom/molecule level will be reached to realize the elements to store and handle information. Clearly, with very few atoms or molecules available, we enter the quantum world necessary to describe storage and processing of information. While classical information is encoded in bits, quantum features allow for the superposition of states and more, for the superposition of seemingly separable degrees of freedom, which is termed entanglement. As has been shown over the last two decades, superposition and entanglement allow for the storage and processing of quantum information, encoded for example in atomic, molecular or photonic two-level systems, so-called quantum bits (qubits). Moreover, some algorithms have been developed that promise a computing power for certain problems, which is much beyond what is available with classical computers.
This science breakfast will briefly introduce to the state-of-the-art of quantum information processing, some of its platforms and its current capabilities. In the discussion, together with the panelists and students we will try to explore what the future applications of quantum information processing and its impact for science will be.