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Red, green and purple lights shine through a window of a metallic chamber and off scientific optical equipment.
September 26, 2022 | Research News

Quantum Gases Keep Their Cool, Prompting New Mysteries

Quantum physics is a notorious rule-breaker. For example, it makes the classical laws of thermodynamics, which describe how heat and energy move around, look more like guidelines than ironclad natural laws.

In some experiments, a quantum object can keep its cool despite sitting next to something hot that is steadily releasing energy. It’s similar to reaching into the oven for a hot pan without a mitt and having your hand remain comfortably cool.

A man wearing glasses stands in front of green shrubbery.
September 13, 2022 | People News

Recent Physics Grad Sees Many Roads Ahead

As Jeffrey Wack walked across the graduation stage in May 2022, he carried with him a lot of uncertainty about where to go next. His trepidation came from his voracious curiosity for a broad range of things, primarily within physics and math—the subjects of his two degrees—but also from his interests in teaching, outreach and music. The prospect of having to pick just one path forward felt confining to Wack. But that same curiosity served him extremely well during his time at the University of Maryland, and it left him with many opportunities for next steps.Wack collected an impressive resume at UMD. He taught an introductory course on nuclear physics and reactor operations, studied physics in Florence, participated in an optomechanics research project that resulted in a publication, made significant contributions to experimental research with coplanar waveguides, and co-taught a self-designed course on music theory and math. Since graduating, he began working as a fellow at the Museum of Math in New York City, sampling the working world while contemplating graduate school.
Jade LeSchack, a woman with brown hair and wearing a black top, stands in front of windows.
September 12, 2022 | People News

Diving into UMD’s Quantum Community

The University of Maryland has a flourishing physics program that offers ambitious students opportunities to engage in basic research and learn how quantum physics is being harnessed in cutting-edge quantum technologies. Last year, as a freshman physics major at UMD, LeSchack wasted no time before connecting with faculty, embracing the resources offered by the university and even creating new opportunities for herself and her fellow undergrads in the form of a quantum club.
graphical depictions for two approaches to quantum-safe cryptography involving lattices and trees
August 23, 2022 | Podcast

Quantum-Safe Algorithms Face Off in NIST’s Cryptography Showdown

While browsing the web, you might not realize that the security of your online transactions is guaranteed by a hard-to-crack math problem called factoring. But this security could evaporate in an instant—if a big enough quantum computer is built. Computers that store information in quantum hardware—like individual ions, atoms or photons—would make quick work of the factoring problem and threaten the safety of current protocols. To thwart the threat posed by possible quantum computers, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has been running a kind of competition.
Man in a blue button up shirt in front of various electrical and optical pieces of lab equipment.
June 17, 2022 | People News

JQI Alum Receives International Early-Career Award

Pablo Solano, a former graduate student at JQI and current assistant professor at the University of Concepción in Chile, has been named a Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Azrieli Global Scholar. Solano is one of 18 researchers selected this year from more than 200 applicants to receive support from the program.
In a blue tinted abstract image a suited man describes a scientific diagram with an electric piece of an ion trap to his left and an abstract representation made of swirly lines and scientific symbols.
May 24, 2022 | Research News

Quantum Computers Are Starting to Simulate the World of Subatomic Particles

There is a heated race to make quantum computers deliver practical results. But this race isn't just about making better technology—usually defined in terms of having fewer errors and more qubits, which are the basic building blocks that store quantum information. At least for now, the quantum computing race requires grappling with the complex realities of both quantum technologies and difficult problems. To develop quantum computing applications, researchers need to understand a particular quantum technology and a particular challenging problem and then adapt the strengths of the technology to address the intricacies of the problem. Theoretical nuclear physicist Zohreh Davoudi, an assistant professor of physics at the University of Maryland (UMD) and a member of the Maryland Center for Fundamental Physics, has been working with multiple colleagues at UMD to ensure that the problems that she cares about are among those benefiting from early advances in quantum computing. Davoudi and JQI Fellow Norbert Linke are collaborating to push the frontier of both the theories and technologies of quantum simulation through research that uses current quantum computers. Their research is intended to illuminate a path toward simulations that can cut through the current blockade of fiendishly complex calculations and deliver new theoretical predictions. The team’s current efforts might help nuclear physicists, including Davoudi, to take advantage of the early benefits of quantum computing instead of needing to rush to catch up when quantum computers hit their stride.In a new paper in PRX Quantum, Davoudi, Linke and their colleagues have combined theory and experiment to push the boundaries of quantum simulations—testing the limits of both the ion-based quantum computer in Linke’s lab and proposals for simulating quantum fields.
A photo of Laird Egan at a desk
May 18, 2022 | Podcast

Science in Quarantine: A Rush to Go Remote

In this episode, we look back at the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when impending lab closures were threatening scientific progress and graduate student careers. We sit down with Laird Egan, then a graduate student in physics at JQI, and hear about how he and his lab mates managed to turn their ion-based quantum computer into a remote-controlled experiment in a matter of weeks. We also learn how they used their newly remote lab to achieve a milestone in quantum computing.
Elizabeth Bennewitz in a black top stands in front of red and clear windows.
May 18, 2022 | People News

JQI Graduate Student Receives DOE Fellowship

Elizabeth Bennewitz, a first-year physics graduate student at JQI and the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science (QuICS), has received a Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship. Bennewitz is one of 33 recipients in 2022—the largest number of students this program has ever selected in a year.
A pink sheet with a hexagonal pattern lies over a similar purple sheet of hexagons with both being curved to form a bumpy surface that is reminiscent of rolling hills.
May 5, 2022 |

Bilayer Graphene Inspires Two-Universe Cosmological Model

Physicists sometimes come up with crazy stories that sound like science fiction. Some turn out to be true, like how the curvature of space and time described by Einstein was eventually borne out by astronomical measurements. Others linger on as mere possibilities or mathematical curiosities. In a new paper in Physical Review Research, JQI Fellow Victor  have explored the imaginative possibility that our reality is only one half of a pair of interacting worlds. Their mathematical model may provide a new perspective for looking at fundamental features of reality—including why our universe expands the way it does and how that relates to the most miniscule lengths allowed in quantum mechanics. These topics are crucial to understanding our universe and are part of one of the great mysteries of modern physics. The pair of scientists stumbled upon this new perspective when they were looking into research on sheets of graphene—single atomic layers of carbon in a repeating hexagonal pattern.
Bringewatt in a white shirt and blazer stands in front of a projector screen showing a slide that says "Entangled Quantum Sensors for High Precision Measurements" and shows basic graphics.
April 15, 2022 | People News

JQI Grad Student Wins UMD Three-Minute Thesis Competition

JQI graduate student Jacob Bringewatt is one of four post-candidacy student winners in the campus-wide portion of the UMD Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. Each of these four winners received $1000. Each will be further evaluated by the UMD Graduate School, and one will be selected to represent the university in an international 3MT competition. In these events, the competitors must distill the research project that they are dedicating years of their life to into a three-minute presentation that is accessible to someone unfamiliar with the topic.
Alicia  Kollár wearing glasses and a blue and white plaid shirt in front of red and clear windows.
March 30, 2022 | People News

JQI Fellow Kollár Bridges Abstract Math and Realities of the Lab

The research of JQI Fellow Alicia Kollár, who is also a Chesapeake Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, embodies the give and take between physics and mathematics. In her lab, she brings abstract theories to life and in turn collaborates on new theorems. She has forged a research program of manipulating light on a chip, coaxing the light into behaving as though it lives on the surface of a sphere, or a mathematical abstraction known as a hyperbolic surface. She also collaborates with mathematicians, furthering both the understanding of what these chips can do and their underlying mathematics. A direct collaboration with pure mathematicians is uncommon for a physicist, particularly an experimentalist. But Kollár is no stranger to mathematics.

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