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Quantum Science Seed Grants Awarded


The College of Science announces funding for several interdisciplinary teams who submitted proposals in a recent Quantum Science Seed Grant competition. The effort was being launched to help coalesce teams to pursue multi-investigator and center-level funding opportunities in Quantum Science. This initiative is designed to couple with recent announcements of Purdue-wide support for teams pursuing major center-level funding and to encourage new collaborations in Quantum Science. According to Interim Dean Jean Chmielewski, “The College of Science has made a significant investment in hiring outstanding faculty in quantum science, and we are pleased to see these scientists coalescing into powerful research teams.”.

Three grants of up to $50,000 each were awarded to teams who show potentials for growth, action plans for how the funds would be used, and descriptions of key collaborative research outcomes to be pursued. Projects selected for funding following peer review will receive $25K initially, and up to another $25K at 6 months contingent on progress along the action plan. Projects were selected based primarily on feedback received from expert external reviewers working in related areas of quantum science.

The research projects to be awarded these funds include:


Exploiting dissipation in open quantum systems, from the Qi Zhou Research Group.

The team of Qi Zhou, Yong Chen, Birgit Kaufmann, and Alex Ma will study the role of dissipation in quantum coherences. In analogy to the way the tone of a bell fades with time through dissipative coupling to the surrounding air, “system-environment couplings destroy quantum coherence and quantum entanglement”. This loss of coherence can limit the practical use of quantum phenomena in computing and device platforms. The team proposes to not only control and reduce dissipation using tunable ultracold atoms and superconducting circuits, but also to potentially leverage aspects of that coupling to the environment to realize novel quantum phenomena explicitly dependent on dissipation.


Rydberg Polaritons: A Novel Portal to Photonic Quantum Technologies, from the quantum Nano-photonics group led by Hadiseh Alaeian and including Libai Huang and Yong Chen.

Exploiting quantum physics for future technologies in the so-called second quantum revolution is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. For this, we need to efficiently produce particles, control and detect their states, and make them interact strongly at the few-particle level. Photons, the quantum particles of light, are one of the most promising candidates due to their low dissipation and noise, and the transmission at the ultimate speed. However, making them interact strongly is a notoriously difficult task. This proposal addresses this fundamental challenge by mediating a large interaction between photons using highly excited and strongly interacting massive particles in a semiconductor, known as Rydberg excitons. Our strongly-interacting and highly nonlinear photonic platform will have disruptive impacts on several aspects of quantum technology, including secure quantum communication, quantum networks, and distributed sensing and metrology.


Exploiting Topological Phases of Matter, from a group led by Ralph Kaufmann and including Birgit Kaufmann, Shawn Xingshaun Cui, and Sabre Kais.

Classically, different states of matter such as solid, liquid, and gas are characterized by different symmetries they possess. A liquid has continuous translation symmetry while a solid has only discrete translation symmetry. As the state changes from one phase to another, a process called a phase transition, certain properties of the state such as the temperature and the density also change. The parameters which we can measure to study the phase transition are called order parameters. These form the core of the Landau theory of spontaneous symmetry breaking. In contrast, topological phases of matter are a new form of phases that, even when all symmetries are broken, can still be organized into different classes; they are described by a new type of order, topological quantum order. A paradigm example is the fractional quantum Hall state in which a collection of electrons is constrained in a plane subject to a strong magnetic field. Topologically phases exhibit remarkable properties such as long-range quantum entanglement, robust ground state degeneracy, fractionalized quasi-particle excitations, and exotic exchange statistics beyond fermions/bosons. These properties make topological phases an ideal platform to store and process information in a fault-tolerant way. In this proposal, we will systematically develop new frameworks of order parameters to identify/classify topological phases and to study topological phase transitions. We will determine signatures for theoretically characterizing topological phases, and at the same time explore those that are relevant for experimental verification.

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