UMD Physicists Elected APS Fellows

Kaustubh Agashe, Mohammad Hafezi and Arpita Upadhyaya have been elected Fellows of the American Physical Society.

Agashe, who was cited for pioneering breakthroughs in holographic composite Higgs theory and phenomenology, and for inspiring numerous related experimentKaustubh AgasheKaustubh Agasheal searches at the Large Hadron Collider, is a member of the Maryland Center for Fundamental Physics. He received his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley in 1998. After postdoctoral appointments at the University of Oregon, Johns Hopkins University and the Institute for Advanced Study, he joined the physics faculty at Syracuse University in 2005. He moved to UMD Physics in 2007. In 2017, he was named a Fermilab Distinguished Scholar.  

Hafezi was cited for pioneering theoretical and experimental work in topological photonics and quantum synthetic matter. Hafezi is a Minta Martin Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, a fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute and a member of the Institute for Research in Electronics & Applied Physics and the Quantum Technology Center. Hafezi's research aims to theoretically and experimentally investigate various quantum Mohammad Hafezi Mohammad Hafezi properties of light-matter interaction for applications in future optoelectronic devices, quantum information processing, and sensing. He earned his Ph.D. in 2009 from Harvard University, and then accepted a position in the JQI. He received a Sloan Research Fellowship and Office of Naval Research Young Investigator award in 2015, and in 2020 was named a Simons Investigator. 

Upadhyaya was selected for contributions to understanding mechanisms of biological force generation and how these forces enable immune cells to respond to the physical properties of their environment, bearing insights into the complex and biomedically crucial mechanisms of T cell and B cell activation.  Upadhyaya is a biophysicist studying how physical properties of living cells are regulated to guide mechanical behaviors such as cell shapeArpita UpadhyayaArpita Upadhyaya changes and force generation and how these guide physical regulation of cell function. She has received a Pappalardo Fellowship in Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, and the UMD Physics Richard A. Ferrell Distinguished Faculty Fellowship. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Notre Dame, and in addition to her work at MIT, was a researcher at UNC Chapel Hill before joining UMD Physics and the Institute for Physical Science and Technology (IPST) in 2006. She serves as co-director of the IPST Biophysics Program.

Also elected APS Fellows were Marc Swisdak of IREAP and YuHuang Wang of the Department of Chemistry. 


IonQ Joins the New York Stock Exchange

IonQ debuts on the NYSE, 10/1/21.IonQ debuts on the NYSE, 10/1/21.

On October 1, 2021, IonQ, a company founded on research based at the University of Maryland Department of Physics, joined the New York Stock Exchange. College Park Professor Chris Monroe is IonQ’s Co-Founder and Chief Scientist, and many Terp alumni hold positions in the company.

“It is exciting to see the fruits of the efforts at UMD Physics and the JQI lead to this significant step toward a quantum future,” said physics chair Steve Rolston. “Much of the underlying science and technology were developed here, and many of IonQ’s technical staff are former UMD graduate students and postdocs.”

Monroe joined UMD Physics in 2007, and he and his students, postdocs and colleagues registered a terrific run of achievements. They created the first quantum logic gate and demonstrated the first entanglement of multiple qubits. Monroe’s group also produced the first quantum entanglement between two widely separated atoms, and made headlines worldwide by reporting the first teleportation of quantum information between individual atoms a meter apart.

Not long after, Monroe’s Trapped Ion Quantum Information lab took the lead role in devising a comprehensive plan for a complete, modular, scalable, fault-tolerant quantum-computer architecture in which information would be stored in assemblies of elementary logic units consisting of registers of trapped, entangled ion qubits.    

These and other developments led to the creation of IonQ in 2015. The company headquarters is just off campus, near the College Park Metro Station.

UMD President Darryl Pines traveled to New York for the NYSE premiere. Pines touted the development in an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun: Quantum physics will revolutionize the DMV region.

For more on the NYSE opening:

UMD Researchers Included in New NSF Quantum Initiatives

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced a $5 million, two-year award to a University of Maryland-led multi-institutional team to develop quantum interconnects—crucial technology to connect quantum computers and pave the way for a quantum internet.

The team, QuaNeCQT (Quantum Networks to Connect Quantum Technology), has been developing the quantum versions of a modem and a router—familiar equipment in the world of standard, or “classical” computing, but a challenge to build for use with devices that operate based on the principles of quantum.

The devices allow “ion trap” quantum computers—a leading approach to quantum information processing developed in part at the University of Maryland—to exchange quantum information over distances measured in kilometers, eventually leading to the development of networks that could revolutionize numerous industries and help solve vexing societal problems.

Quantum networks are at an inflection point with the potential for significant expansion, said Edo Waks, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and of physics and the associate director of UMD’s Quantum Technology Center (QTC). But the scale-up can’t happen without standardized modular hardware between the new computers that are emerging and the vast infrastructure of the current internet.

“The hardware we are developing will address the critical gap, opening up the door to the future quantum internet that can connect quantum computers over continental distances,” said Waks.

Other UMD team members include physics Assistant Professor and QTC Fellow Norbert Linke, and Mid-Atlantic Crossroads (MAX) Executive Director Tripti Sinha, assistant vice president and chief technology officer for UMD’s Division of Information Technology. The team also includes Dirk Englund of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Saikat Guha of the University of Arizona.

The researchers plan to deploy this new technology in the Mid-Atlantic Region Quantum Internet (MARQI), UMD's regional quantum network footprint. The MARQI network will interconnect quantum computers at UMD, the Army Research Laboratory, MAX and IonQ—a leading quantum computing company focused on ion-trap computers that operates in UMD’s Discovery District—with a potential for significant expansion.

During the first phase of research, the team developed working prototypes of the quantum router and modem. Using a process called quantum frequency conversion, the modem converts signals from a quantum computer to infrared photons that can propagate through optical fibers over long distances. The router is powered by a silicon photonic chip that manipulates quantum signals in the network using quantum teleportation—an effect demonstrated in 2009 by researchers at UMD’s Joint Quantum Institute that allows quantum states to be transferred between particles that are physically separate. The team has deployed these prototypes in the MARQI network and established direct links with the various nodes of the network.

A quantum network could revolutionize numerous industries that take advantage of quantum computing including computing, banking, medicine and data analytics It would also enable connection of many multiple small quantum computers into powerful distributed quantum computers that could potentially solve problems with significant societal impact, from curing diseases to new approaches to fighting climate change.

As quantum technology converges with the Internet, a new technology sector would emerge, the researchers say, bringing with it the potential for major economic growth by producing rapid technological innovation and creating a large number of new jobs for the future “quantum workforce,” just as the emergence of the Internet did toward the late 20th century.

In addition, The National Science Foundation has announced a five-year, $25 million grant to fund a multi-institutional center including the University of Maryland that will conduct research to bring atomic-level precision to the devices and technologies that underpin much of modern life.

The Center for Integration of Modern Optoelectronic Materials on Demand (IMOD) is a collaboration of scientists and engineers at 11 universities led by the University of Washington. UMD faculty involved with IMOD include three professors of electrical and computer engineering and physics: WaksRonald Walsworth, founding director of the QTC; and Mohammad Hafezi, a fellow of QTC.

IMOD research will center on new semiconductor materials and scalable manufacturing processes for new devices based on optoelectronics, the study and application of electronic devices that produce, detect and control light. Applications would range from displays and sensors to a technological revolution, under development today, that’s based on harnessing the principles of quantum mechanics.

“Our work will develop new classes of colloidal materials that can generate quantum light with unprecedented efficiency, and enable strong photon-photon interactions,” said Waks, who serves as UMD’s lead investigator. “These are the key building blocks for photonics-based quantum information processing.”

The goal of the center is to realize high-impact platforms for quantum networking and sensing, Walsworth said.

“As a key part of IMOD, QTC researchers will lead efforts to establish a new class of quantum materials that combine pristine optical properties and long qubit coherence times,” he said.

The other academic institutions in IMOD are the University of Pennsylvania; Lehigh University; Columbia University; Georgia Institute of Technology; Northwestern University; City College of New York; the University of Chicago; the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

External partners include Amazon, Corning, Microsoft and Nanosys, as well as government organizations like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Adapted from stories by Kara Stamets:

Janet Das Sarma Memorial CMTC Conference Scheduled for December

The 2021 Janet Das Sarma Memorial CMTC Conference, a scientific gathering in memory of Janet Das Sarma, will be held on Dec. 18, 2021, at The Hotel at UMD. For years, Janet played a crucial behind-the-scenes role in the growth, development and success of the Condensed Matter Theory Center at the University of Maryland, working up until her death on December 2, 2019. 
This one-day conference will include eight scientific talks covering frontier areas of condensed matter physics that have been the center of activity at CMTC, delivered by scientists who knew Janet the longest. The talks will be followed by a dinner and formal remembrances of Janet by the attendees, celebrating her role in the success of CMTC. The plan is for attendees to arrive on Friday, December 17 and depart on Sunday, December 19.
Space is limited, so please contact Rebecca Cawthorne at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested in attending. All local expenses (hotel, food, coffee breaks, etc.) will be covered by CMTC. For those who want to spend a few extra days at CMTC doing physics, the appropriate office space will be made available.

For more information, please click here.

Buonanno Receives Balzan Prize

Alessandra Buonanno has been awarded the Balzan Prize, along with Thibault Damou of the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques in France, for pioneering work in gravitational waves. They will share the 750,000 Swiss franc award.

Buonanno is the director of the Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity Department at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) in Potsdam and a Research Professor at the University of Maryland.

She joined the UMD Department of Physics in 2005, and received an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship and the Richard A. Ferrell Distinguished Faculty Fellowship. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the International Society of General Relativity and Gravitation. In 2018, she received the Leibniz Prize, Germany's prestigious research award. Earlier in 2021, she was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and was awarded the Galileo Galilei Medal of the National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN). Alessandra Buonanno © A. Klaer Alessandra Buonanno © A. Klaer Buonanno was also recently elected to the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, which originated in 1652 as a classical scholarly society, and she received the Dirac Medal, along with Damour, Frans Pretorius, and Saul Teukolsky. 

Buonanno's research has spanned several topics in gravitational-wave theory, data-analysis and cosmology. She is a Principal Investigator of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, and her waveform modeling of cosmological events has been crucial in the experiment’s many successes.

Buonanno, Charlie Misner, Peter Shawhan and others detailed UMD's contributions to gravitational studies in a 2016 forum, A Celebration of Gravitational Waves