Working on the cutting edge of quantum research

Editor’s note: This profile is the first in a series that highlights students and recent alumni as part of the admitted students weekends on February 10 - 11 and March 11 - 12. Learn more about the first steps for admitted students and our PhD Program and Master’s Program.

Anchita Addhya, a graduate student researcher at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME), loves to work with lasers. Fortunately for her, that’s exactly what she gets to do.

Addhya designs nanophotonic and nanoplasmonic structures—ultra-small devices used for controlling light—in the Pritzker Nanofabrication Facility at UChicago’s Eckhardt Research Center. She then brings these devices and characterizes them at her high-tech optical bench in High Lab.

The focus of her current work is building a scalable quantum platform for quantum sensing and quantum communication, which could one day lead to advances like “unhackable” communications using quantum states and ultra-sensitive quantum sensors that detect biological and chemical changes at the molecular level.

She hopes to use quantum engineering to create application-oriented designs and cutting-edge technology.

“I want to see that what I’m making will actually make an impact,” Addhya said.

Addhya joined the High Lab in 2019 after earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Kolkata, India.

She chose Pritzker Molecular Engineering because of the school’s collaborative environment and fluidity among disciplines.

“When I saw PME, I realized that it is very flexible,” Addhya said. “If I want to explore a different direction after my PhD, or even during my PhD, PME allows me to do so. Asst. Prof. Alex High has been especially great in this regard. PME brings these diverse fields together and has this very collaborative environment that I really appreciate.”

Addhya, a student leader of the Peer Mentoring Program, tells incoming students to take advantage of all the opportunities at PME and UChicago.

“Make use of the resources,” Addhya said. “Check emails. Talk to people outside your lab and your discipline.”