Quantum Science and Devices
Quantum science and devices is a research area that is developing new concepts and hardware for information processing and communications using theoretical computer science, atomic physics and optics. Its practical significance has steadily grown since 2005 when the smallest features in commodity microprocessors surpassed the semi-wavelength of relevant photons, and some transistor components became only several atoms thick. These dramatic developments have not yet been fully appreciated by the broader research community, but hint at fundamental changes in the design of future electronic computers and communications. According to theoretical evidence, quantum algorithms that exploit atomic-scale phenomena can outperform the best known conventional algorithms in important cases. Our department's research program in this domain encompasses a variety of fields in electrical and computer engineering, as well as computer science. Our faculty and graduate students are studying and advancing nano-technologies, quantum computing, quantum information science, as well as quantum communications and cryptography.
Quantum mechanics has played an important role in many areas of engineering for decades now, fueling an increasing number of fundamental breakthroughs, as available devices become smaller and individual particles can be precisely controlled in the lab. Newly observed phenomena are often best explained using quantum theory, facilitating new technologies and applications. In particular, accounting for quantized energy levels and the Fermi nature of electrons in semiconductors has lead to more accurate modeling and optimization of CMOS transistors, as well as new results on capacitively-coupled quantum dots. Scientists and engineers have also found that the quantum phase and electronic spin can carry information, as well as facilitate communication and information processing. The use of quantum phase promises to bring a new a new revolution in electron-based technology the way optical phase revolutionized information processing and storage by means of holography.
New advances result from close collaborations between different groups. For example, joint research by experts in semiconductor physics and ultrafast optics demonstrated information transfer from classical optical field to the quantum phase of an electron. Such discoveries are set to dominate technology as we approach the end of Moore's law for device scaling on semiconductor chips. And they will require the development of new techniques for quantum control, circuit optimization, computer architecture and algorithms that parallel and extend those for current computers.