Photos from top left to right – Dr Karina Hudson and Dr Ting Rei Tan; from bottom left to right – Dr Cyril Laplane and Dr Christina Giarmatzi.

We had a successful and competitive first round for the SQA Postdoctoral Fellowship program. The inaugural fellows will start their three-year appointments in the second half of this year. We are pleased to introduce each fellow and learn about their research.

Dr Karina Hudson, Faculty of Science, School of Physics, University of New South Wales. Primary supervisor: Prof Alex Hamilton.

Most quantum computer systems only operate effectively at low temperatures and in low-noise environments. My research is focussed on solving this critical limitation by developing topological superconductivity in semiconducting quantum wires. This will enable the construction of a quantum computer that does not degrade from thermal and electrical noise. Additionally, a quantum computer could perform very complex computations. Quantum wires are a promising candidate for the fabrication of quantum computing chips. Because they can be reproducibly 'printed' in large arrays on semiconducting chips using existing chip manufacturing technologies. Achieving topological superconductivity will drive forward the development of a quantum computer capable of solving traditionally intractable computational problems across science, engineering and medicine.

Dr Ting Rei Tan, Faculty of Science, School of Physics, University of Sydney. Primary supervisor: Prof Michael Biercuk.

Quantum physics describes systems with sizes on the atomic scale. Paradoxes, such as “Schrodinger’s cat”, defy our everyday perceptions of the world around us and continue to capture our imagination of the wonder of nature. In the past two decades, tremendous efforts have been made to translate “quantum weirdness” into technologies that can benefit society. My research project explores control engineering techniques in the quantum domain to maximize performance efficiency of quantum technologies. Specifically, quantum computing and quantum metrology using a system of trapped electronically charged atoms.

My research will help propel quantum technology from laboratory-based research into real-world applications. For example, quantum simulators for studying novel materials and medicinal drugs, and timing-keeping devices with unprecedented precision that can improve the accuracy of a Global Positioning System (GPS) to a few centimetres.

Dr Christina Giarmatzi, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, School of Computer Science, University of Technology Sydney. Primary supervisor: A/Prof Christopher Ferrie.

Noise is a major issue in current quantum computing platforms. In a quantum circuit, different sources of noise can be correlated. This leads to extra coherences named as non-Markovian noise. I will use semidefinite programs and artificial intelligence to learn more about this non-Markovian noise in quantum setups. Reducing or correcting this noise will help improve the performance of quantum computing platforms. This will enable quantum computers to solve more complex problems in the future.

Dr Cyril Laplane, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Macquarie University. Primary supervisor: A/Prof Thomas Volz.

The spookiness of the quantum world captures people’s imagination and is not fully understood at this point. I want to solve some of these mysteries by developing a device that freezes tiny luminescent crystals in mid-air with laser light. Using techniques from single-atom manipulation, the nanocrystals reach temperatures close to absolute zero. At these temperatures, quantum effects become important. Consequently, the transition from quantum weirdness to normal behaviour becomes more accessible. Levitated nanocrystals have the potential for a range of sensing applications with quantum advantage. For example, inertial sensors for navigation and gravimetry with fast duty cycles that are robust to vibrational noise. This could benefit the mining industry in the future.

The closing date for the SQA Postdoctoral Fellowship round two has been extended. Applications now due by 11:59 pm, on Tuesday 15 September. More information is available on the website.