The Quantum Revolution: Emerging Technologies at the Atomic Scale

  • Speaker
  • David Awschalom in his lab, March 28, 2019. (Photo by Jean Lachat)David Awschalom, Ph.D.Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering and Physics, Vice Dean for Research, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, University of Chicago
Date & Time


Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium
160 5th Ave
New York, NY 10010 United States

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5:30 p.m. Doors open

6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Lecture and Q&A

This lecture is part of the “The Third Quantum Revolution,” the 2023 lecture series theme in physics. The first quantum revolution began with the discovery of quantum mechanics, which ultimately led to the invention of the transistor, the laser and the atomic clock. The second revolution enabled the control of small systems of particles and experimental demonstration of entanglement and non-locality — work that was recently recognized with the 2022 Nobel Prize in physics. We are now on the verge of a third quantum revolution, enabling the control of large quantum systems to forge previously unrealized quantum technologies. These talks will explore the many dimensions of this third revolution, from basic physics to quantum computing, communication and sensing.
2023 Lecture Series Themes
Biology: Microbiomes
Neuroscience and Autism Science: The Neuroscience of Sleep
Physics: The Third Quantum Revolution
Mathematics and Computer Science: Waves

About Simons Foundation Presidential Lectures

Simons Foundation Presidential Lectures are free public colloquia centered on four main themes: Biology, Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science, and Neuroscience and Autism Science. These curated, high-level scientific talks feature leading scientists and mathematicians and are intended to foster discourse and drive discovery among the broader NYC-area research community. We invite those interested in the topic to join us for this weekly lecture series.

Traditional electronics are rapidly approaching the length scale of atoms and molecules; the latest computer chips in development include transistors the size of a single strand of DNA. This means that a single atom out of place can have outsized negative consequences — thus requiring an ever-increasing perfect control of materials.

In this talk, David Awschalom will discuss a surprising and promising pathway out of this conundrum that embraces these atomic ‘defects’ to construct devices that enable new information processing, communication and sensing technologies based on the quantum nature of electrons and atomic nuclei.

In addition to electrons’ negative charge — the key property used in classical computing — individual defects in semiconductors and molecules possess an electronic spin state that can be employed as a quantum bit. These so-called ‘qubits’ can be manipulated and read using a simple combination of light and microwaves, retaining their quantum properties over millisecond timescales. With these foundations in hand, Awschalom will discuss emerging opportunities to atomically engineer qubits for a variety of exciting applications, from nuclear memories and entangled registers to sensors and networks for science and technology.

About the Speaker

David Awschalom in his lab, March 28, 2019. (Photo by Jean Lachat)

Awschalom is the Liew Family Professor at The University of Chicago and the inaugural director of Q-NEXT, one of the U.S. DOE Quantum Information Science Research Centers. He explores the quantum behavior of electrons, nuclei and photons in semiconductors and molecules for emerging applications in sensing, communications and computing. Awschalom is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Engineering and the European Academy of Sciences.

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