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From eureka moments to industry impact: Tillmann Kubis’ quantum code library

What drives a researcher’s decades-spanning dedication to changing the world? For Kubis, it’s an integral drive to preserve knowledge and solve the fundamental problems people experience.

WEST LAFAYETTE, IND., July 08, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — You could talk to Tillmann Kubis for hours. His laid-back demeanor and desire for everyone to understand what he’s working on is so compelling, it almost feels like you too could have a grasp on quantum mechanics.

But sitting with Kubis, Purdue University’s Katherine Ngai Pesic & Silvaco Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, it’s clear he’s on a different level than most. His mind is constantly working at top speed, finding ways to completely upend the world of quantum code libraries.

For more than two decades, Kubis has leveraged Purdue’s resources in the undaunted pursuit of knowledge and innovation. But what drives his decades-spanning dedication to changing the world? His attraction to new ideas and exploration, of course, but there’s something even more basic: to solve the fundamental problems people experience.

FROM EUREKA TO REALITY AND THE RUSH OF INNOVATION

While many of us may define innovation as the eureka moment — that singular moment of ultimate clarity — Kubis sees it as the enjoyable start of a longer process. “Those eureka moments are the most enjoyable. I have the eureka moment and the idea in my mind is solved. But the actual implementation and the proof that this is the solution? It takes a long time. Often years.”

Kubis says these eureka moments offer him a rush, admitting the feeling of uncovering a novel concept no one has thought of yet can feel a bit like an addiction. He’s used that rush as a push to pursue novel solutions throughout his career, chasing eureka moments and developing them from concept to real-world innovation.

KUBIS AND PURDUE BRIDGE THE GAP BETWEEN RESEARCH AND REAL-WORLD APPLICATION

Innovators like Kubis seem to uncover eureka moments constantly, but not every idea can become a reality. What differentiates a good idea from a great innovation? In his mind, it’s a very simple return to what drives him: a good innovation solves an actual problem.

Kubis likens the process to the customer discovery that a startup might go through, ensuring there’s a customer base in need of its solution. After all, innovation for the sake of innovation can’t save the world — or even guarantee funding. But Kubis has a preternatural capacity for great ideas and Purdue provides fertile ground for their growth.

“I have ideas in so many different realms,” said Kubis with a smile. “What company would tolerate me and give such freedom while also allowing me to remain the co-owner of my inventions?” Perhaps no company, but Purdue University allows multifaceted inventors like Kubis the space to explore and test their biggest ideas. It’s led to groundbreaking innovations, again and again and again.

In this way, researchers like Kubis who take on the role of an entrepreneur can see broader success, speaking to real-world problems and presenting real-world solutions with a pre-existing customer base. With the help of Purdue Innovates and its Office of Technology Commercialization, the transition from lab to life is more accessible than ever.

His undaunted pursuit of knowledge that solves a truly needed problem has inevitably led him to a tipping point, the moment when a brilliant innovation gains momentum and begins to change a whole industry. Kubis is happy to find that tipping point in one of his proudest projects, Rhino Sim.

NEW QUANTUM CODE LIBRARY GAME-CHANGER FOR ACADEMIA AND INDUSTRY

Kubis’ singular focus on solving a customer’s problem — whether in academia or industry — is perfectly exemplified in one of his most recently activated ideas, Rhino Sim.

Kubis outlines the current dilemma: “When you have thousands or maybe even hundreds of thousands of data samples, you must be very careful not to waste costly resources. It’s very possible a complex simulation could burn one million CPU hours, which could total $100,000.” Many in academia and industry simply don’t have the financial resources — or the capacity — to closely monitor such massive, costly data sets. Any error could be a critical, extremely costly mistake.

Rhino Sim is a modeling and simulation platform built on a foundation of quantum code libraries, developed to accurately simulate the behavior of new semiconductor designs on a quantum and atomic scale, assembled atom by atom. Critically, this is not quantum computing, but a simulation of quantum behavior; this means much less time, energy and expense will be required for intensely complex simulations.

Rhino Sim mitigates much of these costly endeavors and preserves the hard work that’s already been done across academia and industry. After all, Kubis explains, it’s hard to build off foundational knowledge if some of the foundation’s blocks have been lost to time.

For academia, Kubis envisions an open-source database where collaboration can occur quickly and simply. It will also act as a repository for knowledge so that vital work doesn’t get funded, completed but ultimately lost when not properly archived. Kubis notes such knowledge loss has set back research by decades, and the reason why he’s passionate about using Rhino Sim to optimize the reuse of data through FAIR principles (data should be findable, accessible, interoperable and reproducible).

For industry, the same concepts apply. Rhino Sim promises a bespoke system which allows for ideation and innovation more quickly and cheaply than ever before. Current code makes it possible for users to simulate initial semiconductor design all the way through the “packaging” of multiple components, a growing focus in the semiconductor industry. The potential of Rhino Sim, however, goes far beyond semiconductors. Kubis envisions a system agnostic Rhino Sim which can quickly and efficiently untangle massive data sets from transportation to logistics to traffic jams to bird migration patterns and beyond.

Like Kubis’ own mind, Rhino Sim applications are limitless.

A FUTURE WITH NOTHING BUT POSSIBILITY

Looking forward, Kubis sees nothing but possibility. From accelerating Rhino Sim’s momentum to allow for re-application across multiple industries to finalizing future projects nearly within reach to continuing the pursuit of eureka moments, Kubis shows no signs of slowing down.

In fact, when questioned about what’s next, the researcher rattled off a litany of in-progress projects, of which just one would mark a lifetime of achievement for most of us. Watch this space, he lets the world know. More innovation is soon to become available to industry partners and more eureka moments are sure to follow.

For more information about licensing Purdue innovations, visit the Purdue Innovates Office of Technology Commercialization. For specific questions related to Rhino Sim, contact Dipak Narula (dnarula@prf.org).

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