Professors Justin Caram & Anastassia Alexandrova are co-PIs on DOE QIS Research Grant

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Team from UCLA, USC, Caltech and Harvard, led by UCLA physicist Wesley Campbell, awarded 2.7 million 3-year DOE Quantum Information Science Research Award. 

With this funding, faculty across chemistry and physics will develop and study molecules functionalized with optical cycling centers (MFOCCs), accelerating research into next generation chemical systems for quantum information storage and processing. 

“MFOCCs represent a new frontier in qubit design and implementation” Campbell said. “Typically, when a molecule absorbs energy in the form of light, it will release this energy by emitting heat and light of a different color it absorbed, losing information about its original coherent state. Recently, a special class of functional groups was discovered that absorb and emit the exact same color, a property that allows the repetition of this cycle many times. The multi-institution team is developing new molecules with these functional groups and using their optical cycling properties to perform quantum information storage, processing and retrieval from individual/networks of molecules.”

The UCLA team members – Professors Wesley Campell, Eric Hudson, Justin Caram, and Anastassia Alexandrova.

“The ability to use molecules instead of atoms enables quantum logic protocols that could allow quantum information transport and processing that is beyond the current state of the art,” Campbell said. “The development of these new quantum systems has the potential to accelerate the move beyond classical information processing to the practical harnessing of quantum effects for advanced communication, sensing, computation and simulation.”

“This exciting collaboration among theoretical and experimental chemists and physicists could open new frontiers in AMO [atomic molecular optical] and chemical physics,” said Justin Caram, a UCLA chemistry professor and co-PI on the grant. “We are already seeing how chemical insight can be brought to fundamental qubit design and implementation.”

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Optical cycling centers can be combined with novel molecular structures. (Nick Hutzler, Caltech)

The primary investigators (PIs) of this grant are Wesley Campbell and Eric Hudson (UCLA Physics and Astronomy), Justin Caram and Anastassia Alexandrova (UCLA Chemistry and Biochemistry), Anna Krylov (USC Chemistry), John Doyle (Harvard Physics), and Nick Hutzler (Caltech Physics). The grant to the UCLA-led team was one of 27 grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Basic Energy Sciences, aimed at developing new quantum materials. The awards were made in conjunction with the White House Summit on Advancing American Leadership in QIS, highlighting the high priority that the administration places on advancing this multidisciplinary area of research, which is expected to lay the foundation for the next generation of computing and information processing, as well as an array of other innovative technologies.

“QIS represents the next frontier in the Information Age,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “At a time of fierce international competition, these investments will ensure sustained American leadership in a field likely to shape the long-term future of information processing and yield multiple new technologies that benefit our economy and society.”

Update: The news was featured on the UCLA Newsroom website on October 15, 2018.

Photos: Campell and Alexandrova – Reed Hutchinson/UCLA, Hudson – Stuart Wolpert/UCLA, Caram – Penny Jennings/UCLA.