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June 19, 2019 | Research News

Perfect quantum portal emerges at exotic interface

Researchers at the University of Maryland have captured the most direct evidence to date of a quantum quirk that allows particles to tunnel through a barrier like it’s not even there. The result, featured on the cover of the June 20, 2019 issue of the journal Nature, may enable engineers to design more uniform components for future quantum computers, quantum sensors and other devices.The new experiment is an observation of Klein tunneling, a special case of a more ordinary quantum phenomenon. In the quantum world, tunneling allows particles like electrons to pass through a barrier even if they don’t have enough energy to actually climb over it. A taller barrier usually makes this harder and lets fewer particles through.Klein tunneling occurs when the barrier becomes completely transparent, opening up a portal that particles can traverse regardless of the barrier’s height. Scientists and engineers from UMD’s Center for Nanophysics and Advanced Materials (CNAM), the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) and the Condensed Matter Theory Center (CMTC), with appointments in UMD’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Department of Physics, have made the most compelling measurements yet of the effect.
June 17, 2019 | PFC | Research News

Ring resonators corner light

Researchers at the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) have created the first silicon chip that can reliably constrain light to its four corners. The effect, which arises from interfering optical pathways, isn't altered by small defects during fabrication and could eventually enable the creation of robust sources of quantum light.That robustness is due to topological physics, which describes the properties of materials that are insensitive to small changes in geometry. The cornering of light, which was reported June 17 in Nature Photonics, is a realization of a new topological effect, first predicted in 2017.
June 6, 2019 | PFC | People News

Gorshkov student, Kevin Qian, wins 2nd place in prestigious international science fair

Kevin Qian of Montgomery Blair High School placed 2nd in the Physics and Astronomy category at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2019 with his research topic “Heisenberg-Scaling Measurement Protocol for Analytic Functions with Quantum Sensor Networks.” Qian worked with Adjunct Associate Professor Alexey Gorshkov and graduate student researcher Zachary Eldredge in the University of Maryland Department of Physics, the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), and the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science (QuICS).
June 6, 2019 | PFC | People News

JQI Fellow Hafezi Named Finalist for Blavatnik Award

JQI Fellow Mohammad Hafezi has been named a finalist for the 2019 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists.He is one of 31 researchers competing for three Blavatnik National Laureate Awards in the categories of Physical Sciences and Engineering, Chemistry and Life Sciences, and is one of 10 finalists in Physical Sciences and Engineering. Each of the three National Laureates will win $250,000—the world’s largest unrestricted prize for early-career scientists. The awards are sponsored by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences.
May 28, 2019 | People News | Research News

New Simons Collaboration on "Ultra-Quantum Matter" spans 12 institutions, including UMD

Seventeen theoretical physics faculty across 12 institutions have established a new Simons Collaboration on Ultra-Quantum Matter. The team, which includes Victor Galitski, a Chesapeake Chair Professor of Theoretical Physics in the Department of Physics and Fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute, will investigate innovative ideas about how quantum physics works on macroscopic scales. This new effort will be led by Professor Ashvin Vishwanath at Harvard University and is supported under the Simons Collaborations in Mathematics and Physical Sciences program, which aims to “stimulate progress on fundamental scientific questions of major importance in mathematics, theoretical physics and theoretical computer science." 
May 17, 2019 | PFC | Research News

High-resolution imaging technique maps out an atomic wave function

From NIST NewsJQI researchers have demonstrated a new way to obtain the essential details that describe an isolated quantum system, such as a gas of atoms, through direct observation. The new method gives information about the likelihood of finding atoms at specific locations in the system with unprecedented spatial resolution. With this technique, scientists can obtain details on a scale of tens of nanometers—smaller than the width of a virus.The new experiments use an optical lattice—a web of laser light that suspends thousands of individual atoms—to determine the probability that an atom might be at any given location. Because each individual atom in the lattice behaves like all the others, a measurement on the entire group of atoms reveals the likelihood of an individual atom to be in a particular point in space.  Published in the journal Physical Review X, the technique (similar work was published simultaneously by a group at the University of Chicago) can yield the likelihood of the atoms’ locations at well below the wavelength of the light used to illuminate the atoms—50 times better than the limit of what optical microscopy can normally resolve. 
March 25, 2019 | PFC | People News

JQI Fellow Manucharyan receives Google Faculty Research Award

Google AI recently announced that JQI Fellow Vlad Manucharyan is among the recipients for this year's Google Faculty Research Awards. The program supports technical research in areas such as machine learning and quantum computing, the latter of which is Manucharyan's area of specialty. In the 2018 awards cycle the program funded 158 of the 910 proposed projects. Manucharyan, who is also the Alford Ward Professor of Physics at UMD, is a leading condensed matter experimentalist who uses superconducting circuits to make quantum bits, which underlie of one type of quantum computer. This type of research is also an active area of development for Google AI. Beyond qubits, Manucharyan’s team is also exploring ways in which superconducting circuits can probe physics phenomena that remain out of reach for other quantum platforms.
March 6, 2019 | PFC | Research News

Ion experiment aces quantum scrambling test

Researchers at the Joint Quantum Institute have implemented an experimental test for quantum scrambling, a chaotic shuffling of the information stored among a collection of quantum particles. Their experiments on a group of seven atomic ions, reported in the March 7 issue of Nature, demonstrate a new way to distinguish between scrambling—which maintains the amount of information in a quantum system but mixes it up—and true information loss. The protocol may one day help verify the calculations of quantum computers, which harness the rules of quantum physics to process information in novel ways. 
February 1, 2019 | PFC | Research News

Glass fibers and light offer new control over atomic fluorescence

Electrons inside an atom whip around the nucleus like satellites around the Earth, occupying orbits determined by quantum physics. Light can boost an electron to a different, more energetic orbit, but that high doesn’t last forever. At some point the excited electron will relax back to its original orbit, causing the atom to spontaneously emit light that scientists call fluorescence.   Scientists can play tricks with an atom’s surroundings to tweak the relaxation time for high-flying electrons, which then dictates the rate of fluorescence. In a new study, researchers at the Joint Quantum Institute observed that a tiny thread of glass, called an optical nanofiber, had a significant impact on how fast a rubidium atom releases light. The research, which appeared as an Editor’s Suggestion in Physical Review A, showed that the fluorescence depended on the shape of light used to excite the atoms when they were near the nanofiber.
December 20, 2018 | PFC | Research News

Cold atoms offer a glimpse of flat physics

These days, movies and video games render increasingly realistic 3-D images on 2-D screens, giving viewers the illusion of gazing into another world. For many physicists, though, keeping things flat is far more interesting.One reason is that flat landscapes can unlock new movement patterns in the quantum world of atoms and electrons. For instance, shedding the third dimension enables an entirely new class of particles to emerge—particles that that don’t fit neatly into the two classes, bosons and fermions, provided by nature. These new particles, known as anyons, change in novel ways when they swap places, a feat that could one day power a special breed of quantum computer.But anyons and the conditions that produce them have been exceedingly hard to spot in experiments. In a pair of papers published this week in Physical Review Letters, JQI Fellow Alexey Gorshkov and several collaborators proposed new ways of studying this unusual flat physics, suggesting that small numbers of constrained atoms could act as stand-ins for the finicky electrons first predicted to exhibit low-dimensional quirks.