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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.
A colorful computer-generated map of the electrical current in a graphene channel that makes a sharp turn.
July 22, 2020 | Research News

Diamonds Shine a Light on Hidden Currents in Graphene

It sounds like pure sorcery: using diamonds to observe invisible power swirling and flowing through carefully crafted channels. But these diamonds are a reality. JQI Fellow Ronald Walsworth and Quantum Technology Center (QTC) Postdoctoral Associate Mark Ku, along with colleagues from several other institutions, including Professor Amir Yacoby and Postdoctoral Fellow Tony Zhou at Harvard, have developed a way to use diamonds to see the elusive details of electrical currents. The new technique gives researchers a map of the intricate movement of electricity in the microscopic world. The team demonstrated the potential of the technique by revealing the unusual electrical currents that flow in graphene, a layer of carbon just one atom thick. 
July 13, 2020 | PFC | Research News

New Quantum Information Speed Limits Depend on the Task at Hand

Unlike speed limits on the highway, most speed limits in physics cannot be disobeyed. For example, no matter how little you care about getting a ticket, you can never go faster than the speed of light. Similarly stringent limits exist for information, too. The speed of light is still the ultimate speed limit, but depending on how information is stored and transmitted, there can be slower limits in practice.The story gets particularly subtle when the information is quantum. Quantum information is represented by qubits (the quantum version of ordinary bits), which can be stored in photons, atoms or any number of other systems governed by the rules of quantum physics. Figuring out how fast information can move from one qubit to another is not only interesting from a fundamental point of view; it’s also important for more practical purposes, like improving the designs of quantum computers and learning what their limitations might be.Now, a group of UMD researchers led by JQI Fellow Alexey Gorshkov—who is also a Fellow of the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science and a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology—in collaboration with teams at the University of Colorado Boulder, Caltech, and the Colorado School of Mines, have found something surprising: the speed limit for quantum information can depend on the task at hand. They detail their results in a paper published July 13, 2020 in the journal Physical Review X and featured in Physics.
A photo of Alderete, Nguyen and Linke
July 1, 2020 | People News

JQI Quantum Computing Results Selected as “Top Pick” by IEEE Micro

Research by a team that includes JQI Fellow Norbert Linke, UMD physics graduate student Nhung Hong Nguyen, and visiting graduate student Cinthia Huerta Alderete has been selected as one of the 2019 Top Picks in Computer Architecture by IEEE Micro. The work, which compared different kinds of quantum computers, was a collaboration with scientists from Princeton and IBM. IEEE Micro evaluates submissions to all computer architecture conferences that take place throughout the year and selects 12 as Top Picks for their novelty and potential for long-term impact. They invite Top Pick authors to prepare an article for the year’s special issue, which was published in May 2020.
A photo of Mohammad Hafezi
June 30, 2020 | People News

Hafezi Wins 2020 Simons Foundation Investigator Award

JQI Fellow Mohammad Hafezi has been named a 2020 Simons Investigator in Physics by the New York-based Simons Foundation. Simons Investigator Awards in Mathematics, Physics, Astrophysics and Computer Science support outstanding theoretical scientists in their most productive years, when they are establishing creative new research directions, providing leadership to the field and effectively mentoring junior scientists.
June 17, 2020 | People News

Hafezi Named Blavatnik Award Finalist for Second Consecutive Year

For the second year in a row, JQI Fellow Mohammad Hafezi has been named a finalist of the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences.He is among 31 of the nation’s rising stars in science who will compete for three Blavatnik National Laureate Awards in the categories of Chemistry, Physical Sciences & Engineering, and Life Sciences, and is one of 11 finalists in Physical Sciences & Engineering. Each of the three 2020 National Laureates will win $250,000—the world’s largest unrestricted prize for early-career scientists.
Google AI logo
April 29, 2020 | People News

Manucharyan Receives Second Consecutive Google Faculty Research Award

JQI Fellow Vladimir Manucharyan has received a 2019 Google Faculty Research Award. It is the second consecutive year that Manucharyan, who is also an Associate Professor of Physics at UMD, has earned the honor. This year’s award will continue to support research by Manucharyan and his team into quantum computing hardware based on superconducting circuits. They are pursuing the development of special quantum bits—called fluxonium qubits—for use in a new generation of computers.
Red, purple and green light shine in the laboratory equipment used to create atomic gases for experiments.
April 27, 2020 | Research News

Quantum Gases Won’t Take the Heat

The quantum world blatantly defies intuitions that we’ve developed while living among relatively large things, like cars, pennies and dust motes. The quantum behavior of dynamical localization bucks the assumption that a cold object will always steal heat from a warmer object. Until now, dynamical localization has only been observed for single quantum objects, which has prevented it from contributing to attempts to pin down where the changeover occurs. JQI researchers and colleagues have investigated mathematical models to see if dynamical localization can still arise when many quantum particles interact. To reveal the physics, they had to craft models to account for various temperatures, interaction strengths and lengths of times. The team’s results, published in Physical Review Letters, suggest that dynamical localization can occur even when strong interactions are part of the picture.
April 15, 2020 | PFC | Research News

Peeking into a World of Spin-3/2 Materials

Researchers have been pushing the frontiers of the quantum world for over a century. And time after time, spin has been a rich source of new physics. Spin is essential when delving into virtually any topic governed by quantum mechanics, from superconductors to the Higgs Boson. In the past couple years, researchers have discovered materials in which electrons behave like their spin has been bumped up, from 1/2 to 3/2. JQI postdoctoral researcher Igor Boettcher explored the new behaviors these spins might produce in a recent paper featured on the cover of Physical Review Letters.

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