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Photograph of Christopher Monroe in a dim laboratory with blue light shining around him.
October 16, 2020 | People News

Monroe Elected OSA Fellow

JQI Fellow Christopher Monroe has been elected as a Fellow of The Optical Society (OSA). He is one of 118 OSA members to be selected this year.

A photo of Max Planck
October 7, 2020 | People News

Planck and the Birth of Quantum Mechanics

This historical note was written by JQI Fellow Luis Orozco. In the early evening of Sunday, Oct. 7, 1900—120 years ago today—Max Planck found the functional form of the curve that we now know as the Planck distribution of black-body radiation. By my account, it was the birthdate of quantum mechanics.
October 7, 2020 | Research News

Mind and Space Bending Physics on a Convenient Chip

Thanks to Einstein, we know that our three-dimensional space is warped and curved. And in curved space, normal ideas of geometry and straight lines break down, creating a chance to explore an unfamiliar landscape governed by new rules. Spaces that have different geometric rules than those we usually take for granted are called non-Euclidean. Physicists are interested in new physics that curved space can reveal, and non-Euclidean geometries might even help improve designs of certain technologies. One type of non-Euclidean geometry that is of interest is hyperbolic space. Even a two-dimensional, physical version of a hyperbolic space is impossible to make in our normal, “flat” environment. But scientists can still mimic hyperbolic environments to explore how certain physics plays out in negatively curved space. In a recent paper in Physical Review A, a collaboration between Kollár’s research group and JQI Fellow Alexey Gorshkov’s group presented new mathematical tools to better understand simulations of hyperbolic spaces. The research builds on Kollár’s previous experiments to simulate orderly grids in hyperbolic space by using microwave light contained on chips. Their new toolbox includes what they call a “dictionary between discrete and continuous geometry” to help researchers translate experimental results into a more useful form. With these tools, researchers can better explore the topsy-turvy world of hyperbolic space.
Slide announcing the launch of the NSF's second Convergence Accelerator cohort
September 29, 2020 | People News | Research News

UMD to Lead $1M NSF Project to Develop a Quantum Network

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $1 million to a multi-institutional team led by JQI Fellow Edo Waks, who is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Maryland (UMD) and associate director of the Quantum Technology Center (QTC); JQI Fellow Norbert Linke, who is also an assistant professor of physics at UMD and a QTC Fellow; Mid-Atlantic Crossroads (MAX) Executive Director Tripti Sinha; and co-PI’s Dirk Englund of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Saikat Guha of the University of Arizona, to help develop quantum interconnects for ion trap quantum computers, which are currently some of the most scalable quantum computers available.
Photo of Alexey Gorshkov
September 28, 2020 | People News

Gorshkov Elected APS Fellow

JQI Fellow Alexey Gorshkov has been elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS). He is one of 163 APS members to join the select group this year.
An artists's rendering of an atom with galaxies embedded inside
September 25, 2020 | Podcast

The Secrets Atoms Hold, Part 1: Search for Dark Matter

In this episode of Relatively Certain, Dina Genkina sits down with JQI Adjunct Fellow Marianna Safronova, a physics professor at the University of Delaware, and JQI Fellow Charles Clark, an adjunct professor of physics at UMD and a fellow of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, to talk about how precision measurements with atoms might shed some light on matter that’s otherwise dark.
September 24, 2020 | Research News

Quantum Matchmaking: New NIST System Detects Ultra-Faint Communications Signals Using the Principles of Quantum Physics

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), JQI and the Department of Physics at the University of Maryland have devised and demonstrated a system that could dramatically increase the performance of communications networks while enabling record-low error rates in detecting even the faintest of signals. The work could potentially decrease the total amount of energy required for state-of-the-art networks by a factor of 10 to 100.
August 26, 2020 | Research News

New $115 Million Quantum Systems Accelerator to Pioneer Quantum Technologies for Discovery Science

The Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $115 million over five years to the Quantum Systems Accelerator (QSA), a new research center led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) that will forge the technological solutions needed to harness quantum information science for discoveries that benefit the world. It will also energize the nation’s research community to ensure U.S. leadership in quantum R&D and accelerate the transfer of quantum technologies from the lab to the marketplace. Sandia National Laboratories is the lead partner of the center.
August 19, 2020 | PFC | Research News

Quantum Computers Do the (Instantaneous) Twist

Regardless of what makes up the innards of a quantum computer, its speedy calculations all boil down to sequences of simple instructions applied to qubits—the basic units of information inside a quantum computer. Whether that computer is built from chains of ions, junctions of superconductors, or silicon chips, it turns out that a handful of simple operations, which affect only one or two qubits at a time, can mix and match to create any quantum computer program—a feature that makes a particular handful “universal.” Scientists call these simple operations quantum gates, and they have spent years optimizing the way that gates fit together. They’ve slashed the number of gates (and qubits) required for a given computation and discovered how to do it all while ensuring that errors don’t creep in and cause a failure. Now, researchers at JQI have discovered ways to implement robust, error-resistant gates using just a constant number of simple building blocks—achieving essentially the best reduction possible in a parameter called circuit depth. Their findings, which apply to quantum computers based on topological quantum error correcting codes, were reported in two papers published recently in the journals Physical Review Letters and Physical Review B, and expanded on in a third paper published earlier in the journal Quantum.
Blue spheres representing atoms cause light, represented by red squiggly lines to scatter. A laser beam is represented in the background.
August 4, 2020 | Research News

Scientists See Train of Photons in a New Light

Flashlight beams don’t clash together like lightsabers because individual units of light—photons—generally don’t interact with each other. Two beams don’t even flicker when they cross paths. But by using matter as an intermediary, scientists have unlocked a rich world of photon interactions. In these early days of exploring the resulting possibilities, researchers are tackling topics like producing indistinguishable single photons and investigating how even just three photons form into basic molecules of light. The ability to harness these exotic behaviors of light is expected to lead to advances in areas such as quantum computing and precision measurement. In a paper recently published in Physical Review Research, JQI Fellow Alexey Gorshkov, JQI postdoctoral researcher Przemyslaw Bienias, and their colleagues describe an experiment that investigates how to extract a train of single photons from a laser packed with many photons.  In the experiment, the researchers examined how photons in a laser beam can interact through atomic intermediaries so that most photons are scattered out of the beam and only a single photon is transmitted at a time. They also developed an improved model that makes better predictions for more intense levels of light than previous research focused on. The new results reveal details about the work to be done to conquer the complexities of interacting photons. 
A computer generated graphic showing intersecting blue beams holding pink cigar shaped tubes that represent atoms levitated in the optical cavity by laser beams.
July 30, 2020 | Research News

Quantum Simulation Stars Light in the Role of Sound

Inside a material, such as an insulator, semiconductor or superconductor, a complex drama unfolds that determines the physical properties. Physicists work to observe these scenes and recreate the script that the actors—electrons, atoms and other particles—play out. It is no surprise that electrons are most frequently the stars in the stories behind electrical properties. But there is an important supporting actor that usually doesn’t get a fair share of the limelight. This underrecognized actor in the electronic theater is sound, or more specifically the quantum mechanical excitations that carry sound and heat. Scientists treat these quantized vibrations as quantum mechanical particles called phonons. The role that phonons play in the drama can be tricky for researchers to suss out. And sometimes when physicists identify an interesting story to study, they can’t easily find a material with all the requisite properties or of sufficient chemical purity.  To help overcome the challenges of working directly with phonons in physical materials, JQI Fellow Victor Galitski, JQI postdoctoral researcher Colin Rylands and their colleagues have cast photons in the role of phonons in a classic story of phonon-driven physics. In a paper published recently in Physical Review Letters, the team proposes an experiment to demonstrate photons adequacy as an understudy and describes the setup to make the show work.

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