Scheme: Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship
Organisation: University of Exeter
Dates: Dec 2009-Nov 2014
Summary: Quantum physics has been around for more than a century. It contributes enormously to our understanding of fundamental physics and has led to many applications, such as the laser that is part of every CD player. In the past three decades scientists have realised that information processing can be vastly improved by employing quantum physics. One part of my research is concerned with finding suitable models for practical quantum computation, i.e. the direct use of quantum information to perform fast computations. For example, I have developed a useful model for experimental realisation that is based on measurement-based quantum computation but uses an auxiliary quantum bit to reduce the experimental requirements substantially. But my research extends to other areas where the gain, transfer and loss of quantum information is important. The link between information theory and thermodynamics, embodied in the paradox of Maxwell's demon, has proven to be a useful tool. It allows me to investigate how thermodynamic laws change when they are to be applied in the quantum regime. Discovering a new kind of thermodynamics - which includes quantum properties such as superpositions and quantum correlations - is a prospect I am very excited about. But I also hope to see one of the first experimental realisations of a thermodynamic process in the quantum regime. To achieve this challenge I work with an experimental group who use levitated nanospheres to test thermodynamic and non-equilibrium properties. The future impact of my research lies in its relevance for many technologies that are increasingly miniaturising to the regime where quantum effects are important, including machines at the nanoscale, computer chips and precision sensing.