The Race

In 2012, the physicist Leo Kouwenhoven (1963) discovered signatures of the mysterious Majorana particle in his lab, which was predicted by the Italian physicist Ettore Majorana in 1937, but was never previously identified. The article, in which Kouwenhoven describes his discovery, was declared best article in 2012, by the leading American scientific organisation AAAS.

But for Leo Kouwenhoven it only just started here: his objective is to make a ‘Majorana qubit’. A qubit is the quantum analogue of the traditional bit. A qubit can be zero and one at the same time. Such a qubit will be the key to building a quantum computer, by which our current computers are no more than an abacus. Many physicists believe that a quantum computer will unleash the next scientific and economical revolution.

In 2012 Kouwenhoven estimated he would need another year to make a Majorana qubit, but it proved much more difficult. Although in the passing six years quantum became the magic word for the large tech company’s and governmental institutions alike. Kouwenhoven received more than 100 million Euro from various sponsors to form QuTech, the new quantum group of the University of Technology (TU) in Delft. With that money the B-wing of the physics building in Delft has been renovated, and became the most advanced nano-lab in the world. Meanwhile Kouwenhoven is expanding his team of young co-workers, whom he has selected from all over the globe. Some can make perfect nano threads, while others create revolutionary superconductors. This group of experts will travel into unknown territories.

Leo Kouwenhoven is certainly not the only one on this mission. Worldwide similar teams are gathering up their machines and scientists, all with slightly different methods but all with the same goal in mind: to build the quantum computer. The question is: who will be there first?

director David Kleijwegt camera Maarten Kramer sound Wouter Veldhuis research Gerard Janssen production management Sacha van Sprundel executive producer Judith Reuten producer Monique Busman en Michiel van Erp

This production was realised thanks to Teledoc, a collaboration between De Familie Film & TV, VPRO, CoBo, The Dutch Film Fund and NPO.