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Quantum Research at Penn State

At Penn State, more than 25 faculty groups are pursuing the goal of quantum communications and quantum computing. With strengths in quantum materials, quantum theory, and a variety of approaches to creating a quantum computer, Penn State has the breadth and depth to make important contributions to the field.

A few examples of current approaches:

  • David Weiss, in Physics, creates arrays of qubits, which are the quantum equivalent of the bits in a classical computer, using lasers to cool trapped ions.
  • Nitin Samarth, in Physics, pursues spintronics, in which the spin of an electron – spin up or spin down – is the equivalent of classical bits.
  • Jun Zhu, also in Physics, is making important contributions to a new field, valleytronics, that uses the momentum of electrons to compute.
  • Joan Redwing, Joshua Robinson, and Roman Engel-Herbert in Materials Science and Engineering, and Nitin Samarth are creating two-dimensional materials with the potential of creating qubits from defects.
  • Qi Li, Physics, is creating topological superconductors in nanotube structures with the goal of seeing Majorana fermions, a potentially robust but still unproven way to create qubits.

Supporting several of these approaches are the nanofabrication facilities and electron microscopy capabilities within the Materials Research Institute, and the crystal growth facilities housed within the 2-Dimensional Crystal Consortium, a National Science Foundation Materials Innovation Platform.

Penn State also has strength in novel forms of superconductivity, oxides and chalcogenides, and materials and quantum theory.

An ultimate goal, and one in which Penn State has many of the pieces in place and is currently adding device expertise, is to create a quantum computer on a chip that looks like a standard computer chip and operates at room temperature.


Jul 31 2019

THE QUANTUM SCIENCE SUMMER SCHOOL (QS3) is an annual summer school with the mission of training graduate students and postdocs in condensed matter, materials, and related fields for the next “quantum revolution.” The aim is to provide students an interactive learning experience with both theoretical and experimental leaders in the field and a connection to new technology.

Held on Penn State’s University Park campus from June 3-14, 2019, the summer school attract 46 students from research universities across the country.

Sep 25 2018

Physicists implement a version of Maxwell's famous thought experiment for reducing entropy

Jun 27 2016

The era of quantum computers is one step closer as a result of research published in the current issue of the journal Science. The research team has devised and demonstrated a new way to pack a lot more quantum computing power into a much smaller space and with much greater control than ever before. The research advance, using a 3-dimensional array of atoms in quantum states called quantum bits -- or qubits -- was made by David S. Weiss, professor of physics at Penn State University, and three students on his lab team.

Aug 12 2015

For any computer, being able to manipulate information is essential, but for quantum computing, singling out one data location without influencing any of the surrounding locations is difficult. Now, a team of Penn State physicists has a method for addressing individual neutral atoms without changing surrounding atoms.

"There are a set of things that we have to have to do quantum computing," said David S. Weiss, professor of physics. "We are trying to step down that list and meet the various criteria. Addressability is one step."

Feb 10 2014

Modeling helps speed development of energy solutions.

Originally from Paris, France, Ismaila Dabo has family roots in Guinea, a West African nation blessed with abundant sunshine to match the sunny optimism of its people. But despite these powerful sources of energy, there is a lack of electricity to power the country.

"People there do not have the basic items that many of us take for granted here," says Dabo, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering. "Many students, for example, can't study at home at night. You will see them studying at the airport, one of the few places equipped with electric lights."

May 1 1999

Your name takes up a kilobyte of space. With the latest $300 16-gigabyte hard drive in your computer, you have 15,999,999,000 bytes left for Starcraft, Hover, and Myst, not to mention all those e-mails you absolutely must keep, or the 700 bookmarks on your Netscape browser, and the programs for greeting cards and spreadsheets and slide shows that you hardly ever use, even, if you work for this magazine, the 20,000 names and addresses of your subscribers and eight complete back issues, in case you can't remember what you wrote. And it all fits on your desk.