May 4, 2020

Purdue quantum research receives Department of Defense funding

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Research into quantum techniques to more quickly detect explosives and exotic types of quantum camouflage have received funding from the U.S. Department of Defense’s 2020 Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program.

The four faculty members who have been awarded projects in the competitive funding program are members of the Purdue Quantum Science and Engineering Institute in Purdue's Discovery Park.  

The highly competitive, tri-service MURI program is supported by the Army Research Office, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Office of Naval Research. Of the 365 projects nominated, only 26 were chosen via a merit-based review. According to the Department of Defense, the MURI program convenes teams of multiple disciplines to facilitate the growth of new technologies to solve the DoD’s unique problems.

Theresa Mayer, executive vice president for research and partnerships, said that these are prestigious awards and reflect the leading research and capabilities of the Quantum Science and Engineering Institute.

"Purdue has a long history of supporting DoD missions, and it continues with these MURI projects to develop quantum technologies," she said. “Quantum science and engineering will revolutionize national security, and scientists in Purdue's Quantum Science and Engineering Institute are excited to support these efforts to secure the United States’ superiority in this area.”

Christopher Greene, Purdue's Albert Overhauser Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy, and co-founder of the Purdue Quantum Science and Engineering Institute, will lead Purdue's role in a project titled “New Approaches to Quantum Control with Individual Molecule Sensitivity."

"This work will seek to control individual atoms in order to fully embrace and leverage their quantum effects," Greene said. "This could lead to improved detectors for biological, chemical and explosive agents, and precise quantum control that can lead to advanced materials design."

This project is led by Harvard University. Other participating institutions are the University of Colorado, Boulder; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of California, Santa Barbara; and, the University of Maryland, College Park.

The second project is titled "Novel Light-Matter Interactions in Topologically Non-Trivial Weyl Semimetal Structures and Systems." It is led by Alexandra Boltasseva (Purdue lead), professor of electrical and computer engineering, and an inaugural Discovery Park Fellow; and Yong Chen, Purdue's Karl Lark-Horovitz Professor of Physics and Astronomy, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and the inaugural director of the Purdue Quantum Science and Engineering Institute.

"We are very much excited to team up with the leading groups on this exciting topic,” Boltasseva said. “Led by professor Mercedeh Khajavikhan from University of Southern California, our team will pursue the search of unintuitive new materials and systems that exhibit exotic electronic and optoelectronic properties, specifically those stemming from unique topological states, and truly represent a new phase of matter."

Additional contributors to this project include Vladimir Shalaev, Purdue's Robert and Anne Burnett Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and co-founder of the Purdue Quantum Science and Engineering Institute.

This project will be led by researchers from the University of Southern California and conducted in collaboration with researchers from the University of Central Florida, Northeastern University and the University of Tennessee.

About Discovery Park

Discovery Park is a place where Purdue researchers move beyond traditional boundaries, collaborating across disciplines and with policymakers and business leaders to create solutions for a better world. Grand challenges of global health, global conflict and security, and those that lie at the nexus of sustainable energy, world food supply, water and the environment are the focus of researchers in Discovery Park. The translation of discovery to impact is integrated into the fabric of Discovery Park through entrepreneurship programs and partnerships. 

About the Purdue Quantum Science and Engineering Institute

Located in Discovery Park, PQSEI fosters the development of practical and impactful aspects of quantum science, and focuses on discovering and studying new materials and basic physical quantum systems that will be suited for integration into tomorrow’s technology. It encourages interdisciplinary collaboration leading to the design and realization of industry-friendly quantum devices with enhanced functionality and performance close to the fundamental limits. PQSEI lays out strategies for the design of systems based on these devices in order to bring these new levels of functionality and performance to a vast community of users.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 6 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at

Media Contact: Steve Tally, 765-494-9809,, @sciencewriter

Source: Theresa Mayer, executive vice president for research and partnerships

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