US Quantum Physicist Joins School of Physics

1 April 2010

Dr Michael Biercuk has arrived at The University of Sydney's School of Physics via Harvard, DARPA, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Laboratories in Boulder, Colorado.

Michael Biercuk
Michael Biercuk

Such solid credentials hint that there's going to be bright future ahead for the latest recruit to the School's Quantum Physics group. Dr Biercuk says he's keen to contribute new ideas and research. "It's great to be joining such an active faculty and I'm excited to collaborate with other members of the Quantum Physics group. "

Dr. Biercuk's research brings a new technology to Australia - atomic ions in a Penning trap. The use of a Penning Trap allows precision experiments in which the internal states of atomic ions are manipulated in such a way as to preserve their quantum mechanical character.

This kind of "Quantum Science" has the potential to impact a broad range of next-generation technologies - from computation and communications, to precision metrology, sensors, and bio-medicine. "The quantum revolution is coming," says Dr. Biercuk, "and initial applications are showing enormous performance gains over existing technology."

While big-picture context is vital, Dr. Biercuk is focused on his group's contributions to the field. "Beryllium ions in a Penning trap are a fantastic system for studying the dynamics of quantum systems, an area of research that I will continue here at Sydney. We're able to preserve the "quantumness" of the system by using a series of control pulses to effectively reverse any decay. This is achievable because our control operations are so precise.

But some of the real advantages of using Penning traps relate to how easily we can trap and control ion crystals - where the Coulomb repulsion of the charged ions causes them to form neatly ordered arrays.

While other groups worldwide (including my former group at NIST) focus on the confinement and control of individual atoms, we will focus on a new class of experiments aimed at realizing exotic quantum mechanical states of matter using crystals of 100 or more ions."

As a Senior Lecturer as well as an active Senior Researcher, Dr Biercuk is also looking forward to working with the School's students. "A big motivation in selecting an institution at which to establish a research group is the quality of the students. Sydney Uni clearly draws the top students from the nation and the Asia-Pacific region."

While Dr Biercuk has a slight wait for his lab to be fitted out he's not too concerned. "Getting laboratory space set-up correctly takes time - it's well worth the wait to have world-class facilities."

For more information on Quantum Physics

Contact: Alison Muir

Phone: 02 90365194

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