Particle physics research

UCLA and Morehouse College researchers receive NSF grant for quantum research

A physicist at Morehouse College in Atlanta and engineer at UCLA Samueli School of Engineering received a $798,000 grant over three years from the National Science Foundation for research in quantum electrodynamics, coupled with a leadership and trainee plan focused on improving access for students from historically underrepresented populations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The grant will support the development of new techniques that can see and measure light waves accurately as they interact with each other and with individual molecules and atoms. The researchers aim to achieve such interactions on attosecond timescales – one quintillionth (one billionth of a billionth) of a second. This is where some of the fastest and most elusive quantum phenomena occur, which in turn determine the functional properties of materials.

The principal investigator of the project is Wesley Sims, assistant professor of physics at Morehouse and director of the Micro/Nano Optics Research and Engineering Laboratory. The co-principal investigator is Sergio Carbajo, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UCLA Samueli and director of the Quantum Light-Matter Cooperative (Q-LMC). Light Source at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, which is managed by Stanford University and is part of the Q-LMC consortium.

“I am extremely honored and thrilled to receive this award from the National Science Foundation,” Sims said. “Not only does it give me the opportunity to increase research capacity at Morehouse Collegebut the collaborative approach with other institutions will prepare our students for the rigors of graduate study and build a quantum-focused network that will provide them with many opportunities.

Through this project, the team seeks to verify emerging theories about the quantum nature of how light interacts with matter, from solids to liquids to gases. The results could also have broader impacts on a range of fields – including molecular physics, optics and particle physics – and could lead to next-generation sensors for quantum phenomena.

“This NSF grant will allow our group to explore exciting and innovative concepts in quantum sensing, with an uncompromising commitment to include and expand the participation of underrepresented students in physics and engineering,” said Sergio Carbajo.

“This NSF grant will allow our group to explore exciting and innovative concepts in quantum sensing, with an uncompromising commitment to include and expand the participation of underrepresented students in physics and engineering,” said Carbajo, Director of the faculty of equity, of diversity. and inclusion in UCLA Samueli’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Funded by the NSF’s Office of Multidisciplinary Activities and its Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) undergraduate program, the grant will bolster the two institutions’ current efforts to support underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students. Morehouse College is one of the oldest HBCUs in the country.

Carbajo joined UCLA Samueli in 2021 as part of the school Mentor Teacher Program, an initiative designed to recruit faculty who are not only experts in their field, but who also excel in mentoring students from underrepresented and underserved populations. He is the founder and director of the Queered Science and Technology Center at UCLA, which focuses on bridging the gap between the search for scientific solutions to societal challenges and the inequitable impact these solutions can have on underserved communities. served.