Two former Warwick Physics graduates have been presented with prestigious Austrian Science Fund (FWF) START awards by the Austrian Science Minister, Harald Mahrer, as part of the Wittgenstein Festival in Vienna. Only eight of these €1.2M awards are made each year to top young scientists, who can be from any discipline, with the goal of giving the recipients long-term and extensive financial security to build their own research groups over six years.
Ben Lanyon graduated from Warwick with a 1st class BSc in 2002 and later returned for an MSc by research with Steve Dixon that was awarded as an MPhil in 2006. His START award is for a project entitled “Quantum Frequency Conversion for Ion-Trap Quantum Networks” that he will work on in the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information Austrian Academy of Sciences in Innsbruck with Prof. Rainer Blatt. Ben’s project is to solve a fundamental problem in the construction of quantum networks with ion traps: "ion trap systems are the most controllable quantum systems that are available to us today. They are therefore ideal as a node for quantum networks," he explains. "A key problem is that photons are easily absorbed and this leads to undesired losses." Furthermore, photons interact only partially with other quantum systems. Lanyon now wants to develop new methods to get this problem under control and to demonstrate the new possibilities for ion quantum networks in the laboratory experiment. "As a first step we want a quantum interface develop, in which the frequency of the light emitted by the ion single photon is converted to optimum frequencies for use in quantum networks," says Lanyon. "In particular, we want to show that this photon interface is actually a quantum interface, ie that quantum entanglement remains between Ion and Photon." The second goal is to distribute by means of quantum entanglement between matter and light on hitherto unprecedented distances. "This is achieved in which we convert the wavelength of the photons at the default value of the telecommunications industry. We want entanglement observed far more than 10 km, "Lanyon is already looking to the future. The realization of these goals opens up new ways to connect with other charged atoms quantum systems and is an important step towards realization of large-scale quantum networks.
Gareth Parkinson completed his MPhys in 2003 and PhD with Phil Woodruff in 2007. His START award is for “Unravelling Single-Atom Catalysis: A Surface Science Approach", to be held at the Institute of Applied Physics, Technische Universität Vienna where he was recently made an Assistant Professor in the Surface Physics Group. Gareth says, “In recent years my group has worked to understand the remarkable adatom templating property of the Fe3O4(001) surface. Here, an unusual surface reconstruction stabilizes metal adatoms up to 700 K, an ideal model system for studies of cluster nucleation and growth, and single atom catalysis.” Now, with his Machine for Reactivity Studies, otherwise known as The Mrs., up and running Gareth is excited to combine state of the art surface chemistry with STM studies to answer the question… Can our single atoms really be catalytically active?. With the help of the Mrs. and a SMART award, he will soon know!