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A quantum year in review

If the looming holiday lull leaves you yearning for news from the quantum world, JQI has you covered. Below we present an overivew of our major research and outreach activities from the past year, which marked JQI’s tenth anniversary.

In 2016, JQI students, postdocs and Fellows published more than 120 academic papers, about half of which were enabled by the National Science Foundation's Physics Frontier Center at JQI. This year’s publications continued a strong record of scientific output and included work on an innovative quantum computer module powered by atomic ions, a potential application for an exotic new material and the dawning age of quantum machine learning, among many other topics. Many JQI scientists past and present received awards and honors recognizing their research and professional activities.  

The JQI welcomed its newest Fellow, Maissam Barkeshli. Barkeshli comes to JQI by way of Microsoft’s Station Q and brings expertise in the physics of topological phases of matter. He adds to a growing number of researchers at JQI and the Condensed Matter Theory Center who are interested in the role topology might play in the construction of future quantum computers.

Quantum physics in general had a big year, too. The 2016 Nobel Prize honored three researchers who introduced topology into physics in the 1980s, a development that has spurred countless advances in condensed matter theory and experiment in the decades since. We took a deep dive into Weyl semimetals—materials that owe their most fundamental characteristics to this intermingling of physics and math—in a two-part feature story that showcased a new breed of animated and interactive graphics on our news site.

JQI also participated in several major outreach events, including Family Science Days at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in February and the USA Science and Engineering Festival in April. Dozens of volunteers at both events explained quantum effects to children and the general public. Live demos included levitating superconductors, ColdQuanta’s portable ultracold atoms, and single photon experiment

The summer brought the second installment of The Schroedinger Sessions: Science for Science Fiction, a three-day workshop for science fiction writers to learn about modern physics directly from working scientists. More than 20 writers participated, asking frequent questions and provoking stimulating discussions. We recorded many of the workshop’s talks, which are available for streaming.

JQI was represented well at the year’s two big conferences. Nearly 60 JQI members attended the American Physical Society (APS) March Meeting, and nearly 50 made it to the May meeting of the APS Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics. As a complement to communicating JQI’s research with others, we welcomed two dozen scientists for Spring and Fall semester seminars from institutions around the world. Many of those seminars can be found on our YouTube channel.