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October 4, 2016 | People News | Research News

Physics Nobel honors underpinnings of exotic matter

A trio of researchers who laid the foundation for understanding numerous exotic phases of matter have split the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics.The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the prize "for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter" to three laureates: David Thouless of the University of Washington, Duncan Haldane of Princeton University and Michael Kosterlitz of Brown University."It is a very, very well-deserved prize," says JQI Fellow and CMTC Director Sankar Das Sarma. "This work led to an extremely exciting area and that excitement is still growing."The research behind the prize "illustrates, in a very nice way, the interplay between physics and mathematics," Thors Hans Hansson, a physicist at Stockholm Univsersity, said in an interview following the announcement ceremony. He explained the mathematics behind the prize during the ceremony using a cinnamon bun, a bagel and a pretzel.
September 30, 2016 | People News

QuICS hosts international cryptography conference in Washington, D.C.

Researchers from around the globe descended on downtown Washington, D.C. recently for the 6th International Conference on Quantum Cryptography, known colloquially as QCrypt.More than 250 physicists, mathematicians, cryptographers and engineers spent five days (Sept. 12–16) at the Carnegie Institution for Science discussing quantum principles and other techniques relevant to cryptography, which is the study of how to communicate securely.
September 19, 2016 | People News

In memoriam: Physicist Deborah Jin (1968-2016)

The JQI community joins our colleagues at JILA and NIST in mourning the loss of Deborah Jin, a pioneer in the physics of ultracold gases, an area of research that joins condensed matter and atomic physics. Jin was an outstanding scientist, colleague, and mentor. To learn more about Jin's life, research and accomplishments, please read the remembrances by JILA and NIST.For those who wish to share their memories of Deborah Jin, JILA invites you to post them here.
September 8, 2016 | People News

JQI welcomes new Fellow Maissam Barkeshli

This Fall, theoretical condensed matter physicist Maissam Barkeshli joined the UMD Department of Physics as an Assistant Professor and a JQI Fellow. In 2010 he received a PhD from MIT under the supervision of Xiao-Gang Wen. Since then he has been a Simons Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University (2010-2013) and a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft's Station Q, located at UC Santa Barbara (2013-2016).
August 20, 2016 | People News

Remembering Katharine Blodgett Gebbie 1932-2016

See also NIST official obituary with video tribute and interviewThe members of the JQI join many in saying farewell and paying tribute to their esteemed colleague. Katharine Gebbie spent her career at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and was the Director of the Physics and Physical Measurement Laboratories, where she oversaw the work that led to four Nobel Prizes in Physics (William Phillips, Eric Cornell, Jan Hall, and David Wineland). This achievement was directly due to her management style, which placed the science and scientists above all else.
August 3, 2016 | PFC | Research News

Programmable ions set the stage for general-purpose quantum computers

Quantum computers promise speedy solutions to some difficult problems, but building large-scale, general-purpose quantum devices is a problem fraught with technical challenges.To date, many research groups have created small but functional quantum computers. By combining a handful of atoms, electrons or superconducting junctions, researchers now regularly demonstrate quantum effects and run simple quantum algorithms—small programs dedicated to solving particular problems.But these laboratory devices are often hard-wired to run one program or limited to fixed patterns of interactions between their quantum constituents. Making a quantum computer that can run arbitrary algorithms requires the right kind of physical system and a suite of programming tools. Atomic ions, confined by fields from nearby electrodes, are among the most promising platforms for meeting these needs.In a paper published as the cover story in Nature on August 4, researchers working with Christopher Monroe, a Fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute and the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science at the University of Maryland, introduced the first fully programmable and reconfigurable quantum computer module. The new device, dubbed a module because of its potential to connect with copies of itself, takes advantage of the unique properties offered by trapped ions to run any algorithm on five quantum bits, or qubits—the fundamental unit of information in a quantum computer.
August 3, 2016 | PFC | People News

Federal report urges commitment to quantum research

A government report, authored by experts from a variety of federal agencies, has recommended that the US treat quantum information science as a national priority.
June 24, 2016 | PFC | Research News

Ultra-cold atoms may wade through quantum friction

Theoretical physicists studying the behavior of ultra-cold atoms have discovered a new source of friction, dispensing with a century-old paradox in the process. Their prediction, which experimenters may soon try to verify, was reported recently in Physical Review Letters.The friction afflicts certain arrangements of atoms in a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC), a quantum state of matter in which the atoms behave in lockstep. In this state, well-tuned magnetic fields can cause the atoms to attract one another and even bunch together, forming a single composite particle known as a soliton.
June 6, 2016 | PFC | Research News

Disorder grants a memory to quantum spins

Nature doesn’t have the best memory. If you fill a box with air and divide it in half with a barrier, it’s easy to tell molecules on the left from molecules on the right. But after removing the barrier and waiting a short while, the molecules get mixed together, and it becomes impossible to tell where a given molecule started. The air-in-a-box system loses any memory of its initial conditions.The universe has been forgetting its own initial state since the Big Bang, a fact linked to the unrelenting forward march of time. Systems that forget where they started are said to have thermalized, since it is often—but not always—an exchange of heat and energy with some other system that causes the memory loss. For example, a melting ice cube forgets its orderly arrangement of water molecules when heat from its surroundings splits the cube’s crystal bonds. In some sense, the initial information about the ice cube—the structure of the crystal, the distance between molecules, etc.—leaks away.The opposite case is localization, where information about the initial arrangement sticks around. Such a situation is rare, like an ice cube that never melts, but one example is Anderson localization, in which particles or waves in a crystal are trapped near impurities. They tend to bounce off defects in the crystal and scatter in random directions, yielding no net movement. If there are enough impurities in a region, the particles or waves never escape.Since the discovery of Anderson localization in 1958, it has been an open question whether interacting collections of quantum particles can also localize, a phenomenon known as many-body localization. Now, researchers working with JQI and QuICS Fellow Christopher Monroe have directly observed this localization in a system of 10 interacting ions, trapped and zapped by electric fields and lasers. Their findings are one of the first direct observations of many-body localization in a quantum system, and they open up the possibility of studying the phenomenon with more ions. The results were published June 6 in Nature Physics.
May 23, 2016 | People News

JQI researchers attend 47th DAMOP meeting in Providence

Dozens of JQI Fellows, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students are in Providence, R.I. this week for the 47th meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (DAMOP). They will be delivering talks and posters on everything from the anomalous behavior of driven Rydberg atoms to running quantum algorithms in a programmable system of trapped ions. A session of invited talks given by three winners of DAMOP prizes is scheduled for Tuesday morning. It will be closed out by the 2015 Maria Goeppert Mayer Award winner, JQI Co-Director Gretchen Campbell, who will talk about her work on superfluid atom circuits.Check out a full list of JQI contributions by using the "Affiliation Search" at the DAMOP meeting online program.