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Capgemini participates in the ICTP – Quantinuum Quantum Hackathon

Franziska Wolff
25 May 2023

At this global hackathon in Italy, Capgemini staff got to grips with a specialized challenge in quantum chemistry and the practicalities of solving it – while also learning from other practitioners about the industrial context

In April 2023, a Capgemini team of four took part in the ICTPQuantinuum Quantum Hackathon in Trieste, Italy, alongside around 20 other teams from all over the world. The organizers’ aim was for participants “to learn and develop quantum algorithms and apply them in the context of real-world use cases with leading industrial partners.”[1] Participants were students and practitioners specializing in physics, chemistry, and mathematics. They came from all over the world, including Africa, Iran, Mexico, Morocco, and India, as well as Europe.

After a series of quantum computing workshops and lectures, mostly with experts from Quantinuum and ICTP, participants spent an intensive two days collaborating with experts from science and industry to practice deploying quantum technology on real-world use cases. These were contributed by companies such as Quandela, Merck, BMW, Generali, Aramco, Eni, and Intesa Sanpaolo, as well as from Quantinuum itself.

Capgemini’s project: exploring the potential of quantum computing in chemistry

From a range of suggested research topics, Capgemini’s Quantum Lab chose to focus on the field of quantum chemistry, and specifically on the calculation of excited state energies of photoswitch azobenzene.

Azobenzenes are a class of molecules that undergoes reversible photoisomerization and therefore can be used to explore other molecules noninvasively via light. This photoisomerization property makes using azobenzenes attractive for applications such as optical data storage, molecular switches, and photoresponsive materials – but doing so successfully depends on a detailed understanding of the light interaction process of the azobenzene itself.

Franziska Wolff, Quantum Technology Consultant with Capgemini Engineering tells us more: “Our team was assigned a technical mentor, and I was the use case owner. Our two days of hard work were highly productive. First, participants had to grasp the complex chemistry of excited states – a non-trivial task. We then had to understand and implement the methods and algorithms needed to get quantum computers to calculate results.

Once we started applying this knowledge to excited state calculations, some technical challenges also had to be overcome. For example, we had to find a way to simulate the calculations on participants’ laptops rather than on a more powerful machine.”

Franziska Wolff continuous about overcoming challenges and building understanding

In spite of these challenges, we successfully explored the possibilities of carrying out excited state calculations with quantum computers, and then went on to implement the algorithms for our specific use case.

The limited computing power available on laptops meant that our calculations had to be completed on the azobenzene’s smaller counterpart molecules rather than on the azobenzene itself. However, the exercise greatly increased our insight into the overall potential of quantum in this area, as well as some of the practicalities of applying it. We hope to have the opportunity to use these insights in the near future in our research and client work.

For me, this was an intense, inspiring, and insightful event. I learned a lot about quantum algorithms and how they work. I had a lot of informative and interesting discussion with developers of quantum chemistry software from Quantinuum, who acted as technical mentors for our use case. I also found out a lot about how other companies see this new technology and how they are starting to engage with it. And I also very much enjoyed the international flavor of the event.”


ICTP – the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics – is a research center funded by the UN and the Italian government. It is “committed to science advocacy and international cooperation through science by providing an international forum of scientific contact for scientists from all countries.”[2]

Formed by a 2021 merger between Honeywell Quantum Solutions and Cambridge Quantum, quantum hardware and software specialist company Quantinuum has a mission to “accelerate quantum computing and use its power to positively transform the world.”[3]




Franziska Wolff

Professional II, Altran Deutschland S.A.S. Co. KG
With my strong academic background in Quantum Chemistry and Life Sciences, I am proud to bring quantum technology to the next level by finding use cases and actively exploring new possibilities for quantum computing in the industry. With my knowledge from my PhD in Theoretical Chemistry about quantum chemical simulations of light-triggered processes in complex environments, combined with my experience in the successful implementation of projects in the field of data science and data quality, I am excited to embark on the future of quantum computers and implement successful projects.