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April 25, 2016 | People News

Gretchen Campbell named new JQI Co-Director

JQI Fellow Gretchen Campbell has been named the new NIST Co-Director of the Joint Quantum Institute, effective April 1, 2016. Campbell joined the JQI in 2009 and is also a UMD Adjunct Associate Professor and APS Fellow. In recent years she has received various accolades for her atomtronics research, including the APS Maria Goeppert-Mayer award. Campbell succeeds JQI Fellow Charles Clark, who has held the position since 2011. JQI Fellow Steven Rolston will continue as the UMD Co-Director. Rolston, on behalf of JQI, would like to thank Clark for his service. "I would particularly like to highlight Charles’ leadership and active engagement with the public in the promotion of quantum physics. The JQI will continue to benefit from his dedication." Rolston continues, "Gretchen is an outstanding research colleague and I look forward to working with her in her new role as Co-Director."
April 22, 2016 | Research News

Oscillating currents point to practical application for topological insulators

Scientists studying an exotic material have found a potential application for its unusual properties, a discovery that could improve devices found in most digital electronics.Under the right conditions the material, a compound called samarium hexaboride, is a topological insulator—something that conducts electricity on its surface but not through its interior. The first topological insulators were only recently created and demonstrated in labs.Now, a team of physicists at JQI and the University of California, Irvine, may have found a use for tiny crystals of samarium hexaboride. When pumped with a small but constant electric current and cooled to near absolute zero, the crystals can produce a current that oscillates. The frequency of that oscillation can be tuned by changing the amount of pump current or the crystal size.
March 30, 2016 | PFC | Research News

Measuring the magnetization of wandering spins

The swirling field of a magnet—rendered visible by a sprinkling of iron filings—emerges from the microscopic behavior of atoms and their electrons. In permanent magnets, neighboring atoms align and lock into place to create inseparable north and south poles. For other materials, magnetism can be induced by a field strong enough to coax atoms into alignment.In both cases, atoms are typically arranged in the rigid structure of a solid, glued into a grid and prevented from moving. But the team of JQI Fellow Ian Spielman has been studying the magnetic properties of systems whose tiny constituents are free to roam around—a phenomenon called “itinerant magnetism." “When we think of magnets, we usually think of some lattice,” says graduate student Ana Valdés-Curiel. Now, in a new experiment, Valdés-Curiel and her colleagues have seen the signatures of itinerant magnetism arise in a cold cloud of rubidium atoms.
March 16, 2016 | PFC | Research News

Rogue rubidium leads to atomic anomaly

The behavior of a few rubidium atoms in a cloud of 40,000 hardly seems important. But a handful of the tiny particles with the wrong energy may cause a cascade of effects that could impact future quantum computers. Some proposals for quantum devices use Rydberg atoms—atoms with highly excited electrons that roam far from the nucleus—because they interact strongly with each other and offer easy handles for controlling their individual and collective behavior. Rubidium is one of the most popular elements for experimenting with Rydberg physics. Now, a team of researchers led by JQI Fellows Trey Porto, Steven Rolston and Alexey Gorshkov have discovered an unwanted side effect of trying to manipulate strongly interacting rubidium atoms: When they used lasers to drive some of the atoms into Rydberg states, they excited a much larger fraction than expected. The creation of too many of these high-energy atoms may result from overlooked “contaminant” states and could be problematic for proposals that rely on the controlled manipulation of Rydberg atoms to create quantum computers.
February 26, 2016 | PFC | Research News

Characterizing quantum Hall light zooming around a photonic chip

When it comes to quantum physics, light and matter are not so different. Under certain circumstances, negatively charged electrons can fall into a coordinated dance that allows them to carry a current through a material laced with imperfections. That motion, which can only occur if electrons are confined to a two-dimensional plane, arises due to a phenomenon known as the quantum Hall effect.Researchers, led by Mohammad Hafezi, a JQI Fellow and assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Maryland, have made the first direct measurement that characterizes this exotic physics in a photonic platform. The research was published online Feb. 22 in Nature Photonics. These techniques may be extended to more complex systems, such as one in which strong interactions and long-range quantum correlations play a role.
February 24, 2016 | People News

Waks Elevated to Fellow of the Optical Society of America

Professor Edo Waks was named a 2016 fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA). The OSA Fellow Members Committee and Board of Directors honored Professor Waks specifically for outstanding contributions to optical quantum information processing using quantum dots coupled to nanophotonic devices.
February 23, 2016 | PFC | People News

Jay Deep Sau Receives Sloan Research Fellowship

Jay Deep Sau, an assistant professor of physics at the University of Maryland and fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute, was awarded a Sloan Research Fellowship for 2016. This award, granted by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, identifies 126 early-career scientists based on their potential to contribute fundamentally significant research to a wider academic community.Sau, a theoretical condensed matter physicist interested in applying topological principles to create protected solid-state and cold-atomic systems for quantum information processing, will use the fellowship to further his research focus on predicting phenomena that could help pave the way for topological quantum computation.
February 8, 2016 | PFC | Research News

Nanoscale cavity strongly links quantum particles

Today’s networks use electronic circuits to store information and optical fibers to carry it, and quantum networks may benefit from a similar framework. Such networks would transmit qubits – quantum versions of ordinary bits – from place to place and would offer unbreakable security for the transmitted information. But researchers must first develop ways for qubits that are better at storing information to interact with individual packets of light called photons that are better at transporting it, a task achieved in conventional networks by electro-optic modulators that use electronic signals to modulate properties of light. Now, researchers in the group of Edo Waks have struck upon an interface between photons and single electrons that makes progress toward such a device.
February 3, 2016 | People News

Jay Deep Sau Receives National Science Foundation CAREER Award

Jay Deep Sau, an assistant professor of physics at the University of Maryland and fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute, received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his proposal titled “Topologically Protected Quantum Devices.” Sau, a theoretical condensed matter physicist interested in applying topological principles to create protected solid-state and cold-atomic systems for quantum information processing, will use the $443,908 award to build a research program focused on predicting phenomena that could help pave the way for topological quantum computation.
January 29, 2016 | People News

Sankar Das Sarma included on Thomson Reuter’s 2015 list of Highly Cited Researchers

Two researchers from the University of Maryland's College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences are included on Thomson Reuter’s 2015 list of Highly Cited Researchers, a compilation of influential names in science.Sankar Das Sarma, Richard E. Prange Chair in Physics, Distinguished University Professor, Fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute, and Director of the Condensed Matter Theory Center. Das Sarma was also included in the two previous compilations: 2014 and 2001.Jeremy Selengut, associate research scientist, Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies. Selengut was also included in the 2014 list.Das Sarma’s research interests include condensed matter physics, statistical mechanics, and quantum information. A theoretical condensed matter physicist, Das Sarma has worked in the areas of strongly correlated materials, graphene, semiconductor physics, low-dimensional systems, topological matter, quantum Hall effect, nanoscience, spintronics, collective properties of ultra-cold atomic and molecular systems, optical lattice, many-body theory, Majorana fermion, and quantum computation. In 2005, Das Sarma, with colleagues Chetan Nayak and Michael Freedman of Microsoft Research, introduced the nu=5/2 topological qubit that led to experiments in building a fault-tolerant quantum computer based on two-dimensional semiconductor structures.