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August 18, 2021 | Research News

Researchers Uncover a ‘Shortcut’ to Thermodynamic Calculations Using Quantum Computers

A collaboration between researchers at JQI and North Carolina State University has developed a new method that uses a quantum computer to measure the thermodynamic properties of a system. The team shared the new approach in a paper published August 18, 2021, in the journal Science Advances.

August 3, 2021 | Research News

New Approach to Information Transfer Reaches Quantum Speed Limit

Even though quantum computers are a young technology and aren’t yet ready for routine practical use, researchers have already been investigating the theoretical constraints that will bound quantum technologies. One of the things researchers have discovered is that there are limits to how quickly quantum information can race across any quantum device. These speed limits are called Lieb-Robinson bounds, and, for several years, some of the bounds have taunted researchers: For certain tasks, there was a gap between the best speeds allowed by theory and the speeds possible with the best algorithms anyone had designed. It’s as though no car manufacturer could figure out how to make a model that reached the local highway limit. But unlike speed limits on roadways, information speed limits can’t be ignored when you’re in a hurry—they are the inevitable results of the fundamental laws of physics. For any quantum task, there is a limit to how quickly interactions can make their influence felt (and thus transfer information) a certain distance away. The underlying rules define the best performance that is possible. In this way, information speed limits are more like the max score on an old school arcade game than traffic laws, and achieving the ultimate score is an alluring prize for scientists. Now a team of researchers, led by JQI Fellow Alexey Gorshkov, have found a quantum protocol that reaches the theoretical speed limits for certain quantum tasks. Their result provides new insight into designing optimal quantum algorithms and proves that there hasn’t been a lower, undiscovered limit thwarting attempts to make better designs. Gorshkov, who is also a Fellow of the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science (QuICS) and a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and his colleagues presented their new protocol in a recent article published in the journal Physical Review X. 
June 16, 2021 | People News

Kollár Receives National Science Foundation CAREER Award

JQI Fellow Alicia Kollár has received a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a proposal aimed at developing a new window into the physics of particles interacting inside of materials and performing educational outreach. The award will provide $675,000 of funding over five years for her proposal titled “Engineering Interacting Photons in Superconducting-Circuit Lattices.” Kollár will use the funds to investigate new physics that might be revealed by making particles of light (called photons) behave more like particles of matter (like electrons). Her plan is to tailor environments for photons by combining superconducting components into specialized circuits. 
An artist's depiction of an atom sitting on a representation of a warped spacetime
May 19, 2021 | Podcast

The Secrets Atoms Hold, Part 2: Gravity

In this episode of Relatively Certain, JQI Adjunct Fellow Marianna Safronova and JQI Fellow Charles Clark return to discuss the limits of our understanding of gravity, and how new experiments with atom interferometers may be the key to not only a higher-precision understanding of gravity but also possible new physics.
May 10, 2021 | Research News

JQI Researchers Generate Tunable Twin Particles of Light

Identical twins might seem “indistinguishable,” but in the quantum world the word takes on a new level of meaning. While identical twins share many traits, the universe treats two indistinguishable quantum particles as intrinsically interchangeable. This opens the door for indistinguishable particles to interact in unique ways—such as in quantum interference—that are needed for quantum computers. While generating a crowd of photons—particles of light—is as easy as flipping a light switch, it’s trickier to make a pair of indistinguishable photons. And it takes yet more work to endow that pair with a quantum mechanical link known as entanglement. JQI researchers and their colleagues describe a new way to make entangled twin particles of light and to tune their properties using a method conveniently housed on a chip, a potential boon for quantum technologies that require a reliable source of well-tailored photon pairs.
A red beam with packets of photons represented as dots passes through a cloud of atoms represented by a cluster of blue spheres.
April 26, 2021 | Research News

Two (Photons) is Company, Three’s a Crowd

Photons—the quantum particles of light—normally don’t have any sense of personal space. A laser crams tons of photons into a tight beam, and they couldn’t care less that they are packed on top of each other. Two beams can even pass through each other without noticing. This is all well and good when making an extravagant laser light show or using a laser level to hang a picture frame straight, but for researchers looking to develop quantum technologies that require precise control over just one or two photons, this lack of interaction often makes life difficult. Now, a group of UMD researchers has come together to create tailored interactions between photons in an experiment where, at least for photons, two’s company but three’s a crowd. The technique builds on many previous experiments that use atoms as intermediaries to form connections between photons that are akin to the bonds between protons, electrons and other kinds of matter. These interactions, along with the ability to control them, promises new opportunities for researchers to study the physics of exotic interactions and develop light-based quantum technologies.
A photo of JQI Fellow Alexey Gorshkov
April 19, 2021 | People News

JQI Fellow Gorshkov to Receive Flemming Award for Outstanding Federal Service

Alexey Gorshkov, a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and a Fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) and the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science (QuICS), is among 12 exceptional public servants chosen to receive the Arthur S. Flemming Award for 2020. The awardees will be honored during a virtual celebration this summer.
Data in the form of a rainbow laid out around a central point next to a whorl of hair on a baby's head.
March 3, 2021 | Research News

Researchers Comb Atoms into a Novel Swirl

When you brush your hair in the morning, there’s a pretty good chance you’re not thinking about quantum physics. But the way your hair swirls as you brush is actually related to some features of the quantum world. Important properties of quantum particles are described by topology—a field of mathematics that classifies objects according to how many holes they have. This is not merely a question of fashion. In physical materials, topology can determine many interesting properties. Now, a team of JQI researchers has engineered a new kind of topological matter—one with a single whorl—by breaking free from the constraints of crystalline solids. They managed to do this by grooming their atomic states into a whorl situated in an abstract, infinite plane, rather than a coconut or donut shape.
Timothy Qian wearing a blue Regrneron STS 2021 Finalist shirt while on a porch standing in front of a snowy yard.
February 4, 2021 | People News

Gorshkov Summer Student Named Regeneron Science Talent Search Finalist

Timothy Qian, a senior at Montgomery Blair High School, has been named a finalist in the Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) 2021 competition for the research from his summer research internship at the University of Maryland. He performed the work with the mentorship of JQI Fellow Alexey Gorshkov, who is also a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and a Fellow of the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science, and Jacob Bringewatt, a graduate student in physics at UMD. He developed a procedure for using networks of quantum sensors to perform optimal measurements of things like the electric field generated at a particular point by a distribution of electrons or the magnetic field produced by atomic nuclei. 
A photo of JQI Fellow Jacob Taylor
January 20, 2021 | People News

Taylor Receives Department of Commerce Gold Medal Award

JQI Fellow Jake Taylor has been recognized by the federal government for his role in expanding U.S. policy and efforts in the fiercely competitive field of quantum information science. Taylor, who is also a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), is the recipient of the 2020 Gold Medal Award from the Department of Commerce.
January 6, 2021 | Research News

A Frankenstein of Order and Chaos

Normally the word “chaos” evokes a lack of order: a hectic day, a teenager’s bedroom, tax season. And the physical understanding of chaos is not far off. It’s something that is extremely difficult to predict, like the weather. Chaos allows a small blip (the flutter of a butterfly wing) to grow into a big consequence (a typhoon halfway across the world), which explains why weather forecasts more than a few days into the future can be unreliable. Individual air molecules, which are constantly bouncing around, are also chaotic—it’s nearly impossible to pin down where any single molecule might be at any given moment.

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