This semester, 11 students, including Lopez, settled in as the first-ever cohort. Since September, they have started moving to Harvard and tackling their studies in quantum information, systems, materials and engineering.
The hope is that the extensive research experience they receive – combined with the coursework and mentoring built into the program – will help give them a broad and comprehensive education to pursue careers in the quantum field, whether as educator in academia or in development. higher-level systems and applications as a researcher in a university, national laboratory or in industry.
“When you have a new intellectual area, it’s a good idea to train students in it and offer a curriculum that is really relevant to that area – in this case: an understanding of the engineering and science behind the new technologies. quantums,” said John Doyle, Henry B. Silsbee Professor of Physics and co-director of the Harvard Quantum Initiative, of which the new program is a part. “You develop these new ideas into a real solid foundation on which students can continue to do what they want to do.”
Quantum mechanics and technology cut across disciplines. Advances in the field promise to usher in real-world breakthroughs in healthcare, quantum computing infrastructure, cybersecurity, drug development, climate change prediction, learning automation, communication technologies and financial services. The backgrounds of students who have been accepted into the program reflect this diversity – they range from physics and computer science to chemistry, electrical engineering and mathematics.
The well-rounded curriculum offered has been one of the determining factors for many enrolled students. In fact, Quynh Nguyen, an international student from Vietnam who studied physics and computer science at MIT, said the interdisciplinary nature of the field is what makes him so passionate.
“There are so many questions to explore,” Nguyen said.
As part of the program, he hopes to learn more about quantum information and algorithms and explore the capabilities of quantum systems such as the programmable quantum simulator being developed in the lab of physics professor Mikhail Lukin, work that will eventually lead to a new world of high-speed computing.
Research experience is one of the main objectives of the new program. Along with rigorous course loads, students begin lab rotations in the first year and continue throughout the program. They are also strongly encouraged to pursue interdisciplinary research and industry internships. The idea is to give students an understanding of how research is done in different laboratories.
Some of the students’ research is theoretical, such as Nguyen’s work. Other research is more experimental, such as Lopez’s work with lasers. Youqi Gang, who explores experimental platforms for quantum simulation and quantum computing, is making his first rotation in Markus Greiner’s lab studying ultracold quantum gases. Gang gradually learns to operate the many optical, electronic, and control systems the lab uses to cool and manipulate atoms.
“The equipment is very complicated,” Gang said. “We have many different laser beams and everything has to be aligned really well…and we have to do daily alignments and calibrations. People have given a lot of thought to how to optimize equipment. It is a very interesting process to be able to familiarize yourself with such a complicated machine and learn how to use it.
Students in the program will graduate from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The doctoral faculty. program are drawn from the Physics and Chemistry and Chemical Biology departments of the Division of Science and the Harvard John A. Paulson School for Engineering and Applied Sciences. Students say the different course options give them the opportunity to explore quantum science across disciplines.
Nazli Ugur Koyluoglu, an international student from Istanbul, for example, is taking two very different courses this semester: Physics 271, which covers topics related to quantum information, and Physics 295a, which examines quantum theory applied to the physics of solid.
When not in class or in research labs, students can often be found in the designated office space set up for them on the fifth floor of the Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory building. The large space is divided into two shared offices with workstations in each section and a large meeting room.
The meeting space is where students gather for weekly lunches and have weekly book clubs where they present different topics in quantum science, whether it’s something in a scientific journal that caught their eye, something something they are studying themselves, or a theory or experiment someone wants to learn more about.
The efforts helped them quickly grow into a tight-knit community.
“It helped us create a culture for the program,” Koyluoglu said. “It’s being constantly aware of each other’s work, which is really informative and helps us to discover the different paths and the different questions that people think about.”
HQI administrators for the doctorate. plan to enroll up to 60 students in the program in the future.
“The program’s first cohort of students are exceptional in their talents, vision, and enthusiasm for embracing a ‘quantum future,'” said Evelyn L. Hu, Tarr-Coyne Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Science at SEAS and co-director of the Harvard Quantum Initiative. “I hope the program and its students will continue to build on this strong platform: diverse and multifaceted in its perspectives and opportunities, while maintaining a strong sense of community even as the program grows.”
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