UNM Membership in IBM Q Hub to Unite Quantum Research at CQuIC with Research Initiatives in Engineering

Under the direction of Michael Devetsikiotis, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), The University of New Mexico recently joined the IBM Q Hub at North Carolina State University as its first university member.

Devetsikiotis’ vision was to create a quantum ecosystem, one that could unite the foundational quantum research in physics at UNM’s Center for Quantum Information and Control (CQuIC) with new quantum computing and engineering initiatives for solving big real-world mathematical problems.

With strategic support from the Office of the Vice President for Research, Devetsikiotis secured National Science Foundation funding to support a Quantum Computing & Information Science (QCIS) faculty fellow. The faculty member will join the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering with the goal to unite well-established quantum research in physics with new quantum education and research initiatives in engineering. This includes membership in CQuIC and implementation of the IBM Q Hub program, as well as a partnership with Los Alamos National Lab for a Quantum Computing Summer School to develop new curricula, educational materials, and mentorship of next-generation quantum computing and information scientists.

This report is an excerpt from the full article on the UNM Newsroom, The University of New Mexico becomes IBM Q Hub’s first university member by Natalie Rogers.

Replacing Nothing is Really Something

CQuIC Founding Director Carlton Caves was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences at the Academy’s annual (in this case, online) meeting on the weekend of April 26-28.  Asked why, Caves replied, “The Academy isn’t very forthcoming about why members are elected, but here’s a guess.  Generally, it’s for a lifetime of contributions to quantum metrology, the science of making good measurements in the face of the uncertainties of quantum mechanics, and, specifically, for an idea I had in 1981 for making interferometers more sensitive.  That idea, implemented in the LIGO and VIRGO interfereometric gravitational-wave detectors a little over a year ago, made them measurably better.”   Asked to describe the idea, Caves said, “It’s much ado about nothing and about how replacing nothing with next to nothing, otherwise known as squeezed vacuum, is really something.”


Prof. Acosta Receives Prestigious NSF CAREER Award

Professor Victor Acosta has received an NSF CAREER Award for a project entitled “CAREER: Picoliter Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy with Diamond Quantum Sensors”. His technique uses defects in diamond, known as “Nitrogen-Vacancy centers”, as quantum sensors that can improve NMR spectroscopy. It promises to lead to improvements in measuring the molecular make-up of biological samples with single-cell resolution.

He will also develop a one-week summer or winter school for undergraduates based on the fascinating new area of quantum engineering, with an emphasis on women, minorities, and first-generation students.

Here is a detailed description of the proposal:

With support from the Chemical Measurement and Imaging Program in the Division of Chemistry, and co-funding from the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET), Victor Acosta and his group are developing new measurement tools called “quantum sensors” to identify the molecular composition of samples with spatial resolution compatible with analysis of single cells. A quantum sensor uses a qubit (the logical element of a quantum computer) to detect its local environment.

Specifically, Acosta’s lab uses defects in diamond, called Nitrogen-Vacancy centers, as the qubit sensors. The group is using these sensors to generate and detect nuclear magnetization for nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. They seek to develop two different implementations of diamond NMR hardware:

  1. A microfluidic platform suitable for parallel chemical analysis of picoliter analyte volumes and
  2. A hyperspectral NMR microscope for quantifying metabolic composition with single cell resolution

The research is based on the hypothesis that a non-inductive detection modality (diamond quantum sensors) can lead to improvements in sensitivity, spectral resolution, spatial resolution, and microfluidic integration beyond what is currently available in small-volume NMR spectroscopy.

For the educational component of the grant, Acosta is integrating diamond NMR into undergraduate teaching labs and assessing the learning outcomes. He is also designing a curriculum for a one-week summer or winter school in quantum information and sensing that will target undergraduates, with an emphasis on women, under-represented minorities, and first-generation college students. His aim is to attract a diverse student body into the physical sciences and specifically to quantum sensing.

See the NSF Award Abstract

Angular Momentum Chain

Prof. Manjavacas Receives Prestigious NSF CAREER Award

Professor Alejandro Manjavacas has been awarded a five-year NSF CAREER award for a project entitled Transfer of Momentum and Energy in the Nanoscale Using Quantum and Thermal Fluctuations. This unique project takes advantage of the quantum nature of the interaction of light and matter to develop possible new applications in nanotechnology. The work should point toward new ways of manipulating objects on the nanoscale, including in biological settings, as well as improvements in design of thermophotovoltaic devices and heat management in nanoelectronics.

Here is a detailed description of the proposal:

The interaction between light and matter in the nanoscale can be very different from our daily macroscopic experience. When the dimensions of material structures, or the space separating them, reach the range of nanometers, the quantum nature of light and matter emerges, giving rise to new phenomena. In that limit, Casimir interactions, which arise from quantum and thermal fluctuations of the electromagnetic field, play a dominant role and can overcome other interactions, such as gravitational forces, thus conditioning the dynamics of nanoscale objects. The fluctuations of the electromagnetic field are also at the origin of the radiative transfer of energy between bodies at different temperatures. In this context, and thanks to the enormous advances in nanofabrication technologies, we have reached the limit in which the effects caused by the quantum and thermal fluctuations of the electromagnetic field have important consequences for the mechanical and thermal dynamics of nanostructures. This has posed new challenges for the development of applications in nanotechnology. However, it also constitutes a unique opportunity to develop new approaches to manipulate the mechanical and thermal dynamics of nanostructures.

In this project, we will tackle this research challenge by investigating the transfer of momentum and energy between nanoscale objects within the context of two novel concepts that have recently emerged in nanophotonics: structures with atomic thickness and spin-orbit interactions of light. The investigation of these phenomena within a common theoretical framework will allow us to establish the foundations for new paradigms enabling noncontact transfer of momentum and energy in the nanoscale, which can help to develop novel approaches to manipulate nanoscale objects, including biologically relevant structures. Furthermore, the results on the energy transfer will have an impact on the improvement of thermophotovoltaic devices and heat management strategies in nanoelectronics. At the same time, this project will be an opportunity to improve the recruitment and retention of STEM students, which is one of the most important structural problems that education in New Mexico currently faces, with a special emphasis on targeting first-generation and low-income students from underrepresented minorities. To that end, we will implement a range of activities targeting students from middle school to the graduate level, which aim to build interest in STEM disciplines, preserve that interest, and mold it into essential skills and experience.

See the NSF Award Abstract