Research Fellows Directory
Dr John Morton
University College London
The theory of quantum mechanics has produced several remarkable conclusions which appear inconsistent with the way in which we experience and interact with the world around us. For example, the phenomenon of 'superposition' describes how an entity can exist in two seemingly contradictory states at the same time, while that of 'entanglement' describes how the fate of two entities becomes intertwined such that it is impossible to describe the state of one without also describing the other.
These ideas become all the more powerful when applied to information. If we refine the physical nuts and bolts currently used to represent information, shrinking them to the level of single atoms and carefully protecting them from random noise, we can enter a regime where information inherits the properties of superposition and entanglement. A bit ceases to be either 0 or 1, but can also be 0-and-1 at the same time. This can be used to run certain ultra-efficient computer algorithms which a conventional computer would be simply unable to process.
Potential applications range from challenges in code breaking and pattern recognition to simulations of complex processes in molecular systems. The world's most powerful supercomputers are today running programs to predict weather patterns, long-term effects of climate change and the way in which proteins fold into the unique shapes which either enable them to function or which lead to disease. It is possible that these, and many other areas, could be greatly enhanced by the unique parallel-processing power of such a 'quantum computer'.
My work focuses on the magnetic property of 'spin', which has already been harnessed in an array of revolutionary technologies, from nuclear spins in magnetic resonance imaging to spintronics in magnetic recording media. I study the spins of electrons and atomic nuclei in specially engineered materials and molecules towards applications in quantum technologies.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)