TU Delft quantum scientist Leo Kouwenhoven didn’t violate the scientific integrity code when submitting ‘proof’ of the existence of Majorana particles in 2017. His high-profile Nature paper, published in 2018, was retracted last year. TU Delft’s executive board initially called Kouwenhoven’s process a minor and unintentional violation of scientific integrity. Now, after an inquiry supported by several advisory bodies, the judgment is toned down to “partly negligent” and “partly culpably negligent” behavior without violation of scientific integrity.
In February 2022, the executive board received a new internal report concerning possible irregularities surrounding some publications on Majorana research. In publications from before 2019, there may have been irregularities in the processing of data by one or more of the authors. As a result, a new investigation was initiated, which is still ongoing. Another Majorana paper from Kouwenhoven was retracted last April.
Delft-based Qutech, meanwhile, is continuing the Majorana research. “Majorana particles remain promising, so with the help of recently developed concepts, we continue to work on how they can be unequivocally demonstrated. At the same time, we’re pressing on with our various other lines of research toward the realization of a quantum computer and a quantum internet,” says Lieven Vandersypen, scientific director of Qutech.
Kouwenhoven led the Qutech quantum research institute before moving to Microsoft’s new quantum lab on the same campus. He unexpectedly stepped down as director last March.