Particle physics research

UAPB joins 3-state research effort and will develop quantum technology

A quantum materials research effort highlighted in a White House announcement last week will expand to include the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

Federal officials announced a workforce development strategy last Tuesday to accompany an already underway campaign to develop quantum materials and devices, considered a new generation of computing and communications technologies.

Part of the research effort has included a $20 million National Science Foundation grant announced last year to establish what is known as the MonArk NSF Quantum Foundry at the University of Arkansas, in Fayetteville and Montana State University. Researchers are working to more efficiently produce materials formed by binding a single layer of atoms.

Last week, the White House noted a new $2.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to expand the MonArk project.

UA-Pine Bluff, a historically black university, and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology are now part of what is called the Arkansas-Montana-South Dakota 2D Quantum Photonics Alliance.

In physics, photonics consists in exploiting the properties of light, in particular in such a way as to allow the transmission of information. A photon is often described as an elementary particle, meaning it cannot be broken down into smaller components.

Tomasz Durakiewicz, project manager for the National Science Foundation, said in a statement that UA-Pine Bluff “will primarily take responsibility for developing efficient and fast devices suitable for transmitting and processing quantum information using light”.

Sanjay Behura, assistant professor of physics and mathematics at UAPB, said a postdoctoral researcher, about six undergraduate students and one graduate student will participate in the on-campus research effort he will lead over the next few years. next four years.

The project “will significantly expand quantum career path opportunities for UAPB graduate and undergraduate students,” Behura said in a statement.

The National Science and Technology Council’s report released last week on the quantum information science and technology workforce states that “the workforce landscape is difficult to assess due to the complex and interdisciplinary nature of the work”.

The report nevertheless states that, based on the information available, “there appears to be a shortage of talent at all levels”.

Hugh Churchill, associate professor of physics at UA-Fayetteville and associate director of the MonArk project, described quantum mechanics as the branch of physics that helps explain how the physical world works when objects are very small, temperatures are very cold or the time scale studied is very short.

Harnessing this science has led to work on technologies such as quantum computers, which show promise as a way to solve problems that have proven difficult for current computing technology, Churchill said.

“Within MonArk, we are developing the ability to rapidly create and test two-dimensional hardware quantum devices,” Churchill said in an email last week.

With the expansion of the project, “the idea here is to apply this capability to quantum photonic devices, which we believe is a quantum technology that could find commercial application in the nearer term and fits particularly well with the strengths of materials.” 2D.”

Durakiewicz said that during the project, UA-Pine Bluff “will establish the technical capability to detect even single photons, building on existing local expertise, and provide a large student population, which would not have otherwise no exposure to this field, access to the latest quantum technology.”