Hannes Bernien receives International Quantum Technology Young Scientist Award

Asst. Prof. Hannes Bernien has received the inaugural IOP Publishing International Quantum Technology Young Scientist Award, which acknowledges young scientists with significant achievements and exceptional promise for future contributions in the field.

“It’s a great recognition, and it’s a strong motivation to continue the research I love doing,” Bernien said.

Bernien was nominated for his work in the development of methods to control quantum systems over long distances and scale them to large qubit numbers. Specifically, Bernien performed experiments that created entanglement between two quantum systems, electron spins, first over a meter distance and then over more than one kilometer. The judging panel also recognized his research in entangling large numbers of atomic qubits for applications like quantum computing and quantum simulation.

“Controlling quantum systems coherently—without them losing their quantum properties—and also entangling them is at the heart of my research,” Bernien said. “It is already quite challenging to isolate and control a single quantum system such as a single electron spin or atom, and it gets that much harder when you deal with two or more quantum systems that can also interact with each other. At the same time, this is exactly where it gets most fascinating and quantum properties such as entanglement start to play a dominant role. In quantum technologies, entanglement will be used as a resource to power new applications.”

“Hannes’ research has enormous potential to move forward the promise of quantum technology,” said Matthew Tirrell, dean of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) at the University of Chicago. “This award recognizes the contributions he has made early in his career, and I look forward to watching him continue to deepen our understanding and control of quantum systems.”

Bernien’s current work focuses on increasing the distance between quantum systems and the number of interacting atomic qubits.

“It’s exciting to come up with new ways to create entanglement not just over a kilometer, but maybe going to tens or even hundreds of kilometers, as well as setting up experiments where we could go from tens of individual atomic qubits to hundreds or even thousands,” he said.

Bernien, who has been at the University of Chicago for nearly two years, says he appreciates the collaborative culture among research groups.

“There’s a really large community here at UChicago that is excited about quantum science and technology,” he said. “In the different research groups, everybody has a different approach of looking at these fascinating quantum effects. I very much enjoy that we can learn from each other and work on a lot of important questions in a collaborative way.”

Bernien received the young scientist award during a live-streamed ceremony of the Quantum 2020 conference, hosted by IOP Publishing and the Institute of Physics (IOP) in partnership with the University of Science and Technology of China and the Chinese Physical Society. In addition to a monetary prize and certificate, the award includes an invitation for Bernien to present a lecture on controlling quantum systems over distances and over large numbers of qubits.