Testing & Measurement
According to The Quantum Insider’s proprietary data platform available here, a handful of companies are dedicated to testing and measurement equipment for the quantum tech industry. These include, though are not limited to, Keysight Technologies, Lake Shore Cryotronics and Zurich Instruments (a Rohde & Schwarz Company, as of July 2021). And, leading the way forward with these three noble representatives in the sector is a University of Stuttgart spinoff with the goal to commercialize the Time Tagger 20 FPGA technology set up in 2016.
Headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, Swabian Instruments — a deep-tech startup founded by Helmut Fedder, Markus Wick and Michael Schlagmüller and named after the cultural, historic and linguistic region in southwestern Germany the company hails from — is developing novel instrumentation for time-correlated single-photon counting, with applications in quantum technology, life sciences, and optical data communication. Its groundbreaking, state-of-the-art measurement architecture supports research across disciplines.
With customers that include top research institutions worldwide, such as MIT, Harvard University, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, and Max-Planck-Institutes, and leading private-owned research divisions, these and more benefit from Swabian Instruments’ technology that enables for them a strikingly faster implementation of their research projects.
Currently, the startup offers three products:
• Time Tagger Series
Streaming time-to-digital converters
Swabian Instruments’ Time Taggers are streaming time-to-digital converters with a unique data processing architecture that makes them the preferred choice for Time-Correlated Single Photon Counting (TCSPC), time-interval counting, coincidence counting, and digital protocol analysis
• Pulse Streamer 8/2
Synchronous digital pattern and arbitrary waveform generator
The Pulse Streamer 8/2 is a synchronous digital pattern and arbitrary waveform generator with 8 digital and 2 analog output channels. It comes with a powerful user interface that allows you to define complex pulse sequences and arbitrary waveforms efficiently
Advanced clocking and synchronization
The Swabian Instruments’ Synchronizer enables you to run large-scale applications with up to 144 input channels. With the Synchronizer, you can merge your Time Tagger Ultra units into one single device, whereby their full-timing resolution is maintained. The time tag streams from the individual units are merged automatically, such that you can take full advantage of the Time Tagger’s powerful software engine
Areas the products can be applied effectively include fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM), single-photon microscopy and linear optics to quantum information.
“At Swabian Instruments, we all love technology. And we deliver the highest possible quality.”
— Markus Wick, CTO and Co-Founder, Swabian Instruments
Having worked together on novel instrumentation for single-photon counting that they needed for their research developed at the University of Stuttgart, the founding team’s instrumentation satisfied the demanding requirements posed by single-photon quantum physics applications.
The CEO and Co-Founder of the startup is Helmut Fedder, responsible for company strategy and business development, Fedder has been driving the development of Swabian Instruments’ technology since early 2010. He obtained Ph.D. in Physics at the TU Enschede working on microfluidics and optics and went on to work as a research team leader in the group of Jörg Wrachtrup at the University of Stuttgart, studying solid-state quantum physics with colour centers in diamond. Fedder has a broad knowledge of theoretical and experimental physics across disciplines. In the early days of Swabian Instruments, Fedder designed the first versions of the Time Tagger and Pulse Streamer FPGA cores.
Markus Wick is Swabian Instruments CTO and second Co-Founder who leads its R&D and covers the full technology stack from hardware — FPGA firmware — C++ backend to GUI software. Wick studied Electrical Engineering at the University of Stuttgart and pursued a Ph.D. in Theoretical Electrical Engineering in the group of Wolfgang Rucker, working on multi-harmonic electro-dynamics computations. By contributing to several high-performance open-source software projects, he has gained deep experience in software development. Wick developed the heart of the Time Tagger technology in 2011.
Finally, we have COO and Co-Founder Michael Schlagmüller who drives the startup’s overall operations and maintains the high-quality standard of its hardware, software, and support. Schlagmüller obtained a Ph.D. in Experimental Physics in the group of Tilman Pfau at the University of Stuttgart, where he set up a complete ultracold Rydberg atom experiment from scratch.
A global single-photon quantum technology leader, Swabian Instruments has been involved in several exciting projects to date, such as 2018’s Q.Link.X project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Germany), while in 2020 Swabian Instruments worked in close collaboration with Professor Jens Anders from the University of Stuttgart and Professor Fedor Jelezko from the University of Ulm, supported by the Institue for Quantum Science and Technology (IQST), to pioneer research on next-generation time-to-digital converters in a project called STRATUS.
Aiming to make data acquisition and signal generation as easy and intuitive as possible via its Time Tagger Series, Swabian Instruments testing and measurement offerings are just what the industry needs to develop.