DOE News
    Doe Science news source
    The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
    • 2018-11-12 11:05:16
    • Article ID: 703792

    Argonne poised for pivotal discoveries and impact in a quantum world

    • Credit: University of Chicago

      PhD students Kevin Miao, left, Alexandre Bourassa and postdoctoral researcher Sam Bayliss work in Awschalom's lab at the University of Chicago.

    • Credit: Argonne National Laboratory

      Nanoscientist Martin Holt reveals buried strain in quantum devices through the use of the shared Hard X-ray Nanoprobe at the Center for Nanoscale Materials and Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.

    • Credit: University of Chicago

      David Awschalom discusses quantum research with PhD students Kevin Miao, left, and Alexandre Bourassa.

    Quantum materials display unusual properties at the atomic and subatomic scale that, if properly engineered, could lead to new classes of devices and computing capabilities that far exceed the capabilities of existing technology.

    Take, for example, manipulating how light and matter interact with each other in silicon carbide. Silicon carbide, a hard, refractory crystalline compound, is widely used in modern electronics. A new X-ray technique developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory may help scientists learn more about its nanoscale properties.


    “The most exciting thing to me about this entire field is that we don’t actually know where the biggest impact is going to be.” – David Awschalom, Argonne senior scientist and Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago

    The technique focuses a pulsed X-ray beam to a diameter of only 25 nanometers (3,000 to 4,000 times narrower than a human hair), allowing researchers to observe what happens when they create and manipulate an atomic defect within the silicon carbide crystal lattice. This action forces the surrounding atoms to rearrange themselves, which strains the material.

    “When you strain these materials, many of their electronic and quantum state properties change,” said David Awschalom, an Argonne senior scientist and Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago. But until a new tool was developed for the hard X-ray nanoprobe in collaboration with Martin Holt at Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials, no one could actually observe the process as it unfolded.

    (Awschalom, Holt and others also used Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source and worked with researchers in Argonne’s Materials Science division and the University of Chicago’s Institute for Molecular Engineering to develop the tool.)

    Silicon carbide lends itself to the production of quantum devices that could, for example, transmit secure communications across existing optical fiber networks. But the full extent of its technological potential remains unknown.

    This is but one example of multiple laboratory initiatives aimed at enhancing the impact of future breakthroughs in quantum computing, sensing and communications. To do so, Awschalom and his Argonne colleagues are pushing back the scientific frontiers of quantum mechanics, which governs the behavior of matter at the atomic and subatomic world that contrasts with the physics of everyday life in bizarre and counterintuitive ways.

    Argonne researchers have long been interested in developing quantum technologies. Paul Benioff, who proposed his pioneering theoretical framework for a quantum computer in the early 1980s, was among the earliest to consider it.

    Building upon this legacy, the laboratory has recently redoubled its quantum research efforts. The laboratory’s goal is to better understand and develop technologies based on this nascent field. Argonne is well positioned to contribute to the proposed National Quantum Initiative, which is receiving bipartisan Congressional support, said Supratik Guha, the laboratory’s senior science advisor and director of the Center for Nanoscale Materials.

    “Argonne’s multidisciplinary priorities in the quantum realm encompass algorithms and software research, the development of new materials and sensors, and complex simulations of physical and chemical processes,” Guha said. “Our work spans materials discovery for quantum information sciences, finding new practical applications for quantum devices and building the quantum workforce of the future.”

    Quantum research has matured quickly in recent years, having arrived at the crossroad between basic research and applied technology, said F. Joseph Heremans, an assistant staff scientist in the Institute for Molecular Engineering and Materials Science division at Argonne.

    “The fact that companies like IBM, Google and Intel have started quantum initiatives makes it an increasingly urgent field to work in,” Heremans said. “Progress hinges on many fundamental science questions looking into new systems and materials, as well as the accompanying engineering and technical challenges.”

    In the last two years, Argonne has joined multiple quantum research initiatives aimed at overcoming these challenges. The Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE) was launched in June 2017 as a collaboration between UChicago, Argonne and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign joining it in late October 2018. Among its early accomplishments was the establishment of the Quantum Information Science and Engineering Network (QISENET; see sidebar).

    Argonne, UChicago and several other universities also have established a partnership with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL). ARL Central, headquartered at the UChicago Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s Hyde Park offices and announced in November 2017, aims to accelerate discovery and innovation in focus areas that include experimental and theoretical quantum materials science.

    Argonne also is a member and co-leader of the Center for Novel Pathways to Quantum Coherence in Materials, announced last June as a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center. The center seeks to understand quantum coherence—the electronic state that allows quantum computers to function—by building on fundamental materials discoveries that harness the phenomenon in both light and matter and in the interface between light and matter. The DOE has committed $11.7 million to support the center, which is led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and includes scientists at Columbia University and the University of California, Santa Barbara.

    A key component of the new center will be ongoing efforts of Giulia Galli, Argonne senior scientist and Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering at UChicago, to identify promising new quantum materials via theoretical modeling.

    Much of Argonne’s research seeks to develop better qubits, or quantum bits. These are the technologically enhanced counterparts to the binary digit, or bit, of modern conventional computers.

    “A single qubit offers an improvement on both the amount of information stored per bit/qubit and the way information is processed, allowing for new computational capacity,” Heremans said.

    Awschalom, for example, leads a team of researchers in developing quantum metamaterials, materials that contain multiple varieties of complicated properties all in one system.

    This entails attempting to discover new quantum states in matter to understand what’s needed to build a qubit in a semiconductor, and how to perform quantum transduction.

    Through quantum transduction, a quantum state transforms from one mode into another: turning an electron spin—which stores information in an atom—into a photon carrying light, or a photon into a phonon carrying sound.

    “Quantum materials offer an opportunity to design devices that blur the interfaces between light, matter and sound,” Awschalom said. “You can build systems so that all three of these properties are integrated into one common platform. For example, one can choose whether the information is processed as a photon, a phonon or the spin of an electron. The Argonne effort is to design and build new types of quantum metamaterials with these exotic properties.”

    The immediate challenge is to understand and control the relevant materials science, Heremans said. There are further challenges in building larger arrays of qubits and in improving their uniformity and repeatability.

    “In many ways these all boil down to understanding the materials science and how they relate to our quantum defects and bits,” he said. Researchers at Argonne and UChicago have discovered that they can manipulate quantum defects—the missing atoms that change the electronic properties of silicon carbide and other materials—as a quantum physics pathway into the technological world.

    Anand Bhattacharya, a physicist in Argonne’s Materials Science division, seeks to answer fundamental questions about superconducting qubits. His team is attempting to tune those qubits with electric fields instead of the more commonly used magnetic fields. Bhattacharya compared the task to reinventing the transistor, this time in the context of superconducting qubits.

    “Superconductors are typically made of metals, and when you apply electric fields to conventional metals, nothing much happens to them because they are very good conductors,” Bhattacharya said.

    He suspects, however, that materials of a different composition could make it possible to gate the electrons, as controlling their flow is called, with electric fields.

    Controlling electron flow with electric fields may help solve two problems with superconducting qubits: addressing them locally using conventional gates and controlling the coupling between them.

    Although the compositional details of his materials are as yet unpublished, Bhattacharya adds, “we have one or two promising prospects.”

    Qubits existing in a state of quantum coherence evolve in perfect synchronicity. Their decoherence limits the lifetime and performance of a quantum computer.

    “If somebody were to gate superconductivity with electric fields at high frequencies it would probably be a very useful part of the puzzle,” he said. “I can imagine getting it integrated in devices very quickly if that happens.”

    Where might these advancements lead?

    “The most exciting thing to me about this entire field is that we don’t actually know where the biggest impact is going to be,” Awschalom said. He speculated, however, about the application of quantum sensors to perform magnetic resonance imaging scans of a single atomic nucleus.

    Today, a standard hospital MRI procedure typically scans approximately a hundred quadrillion atomic nuclei at a time. But single nucleus scans could, theoretically, rapidly reveal the structure-function relationship of human proteins, fewer than one percent of which are understood today.

    “Imagine you had a quantum sensor that could image the structure of a single molecule at the subatomic level,” Awschalom said. “This tool would have the potential to revolutionize biochemistry, perhaps even offer new pathways to design and test pharmaceuticals. It would be a game changer.”

    The Advanced Photon Source, the Center for Nanoscale Materials, and the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility are DOE Office of Science User Facilities.

    Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

    The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.

    X
    X
    X
    • Filters

    • × Clear Filters

    The Biermann Battery Effect: Spontaneous Generation of Magnetic Fields and Their Severing

    The mechanism responsible for creating intense magnetic fields in laser-driven plasmas also helps tear the fields apart.

    Compelling Evidence for Small Drops of Perfect Fluid

    Nuclear physicists analyzing data from the PHENIX detector at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) have published additional evidence that collisions of miniscule projectiles with gold nuclei create tiny specks of the perfect fluid that filled the early universe.

    Topological Matters: Toward a New Kind of Transistor

    An experiment has demonstrated, for the first time, electronic switching in an exotic, ultrathin material that can carry a charge with nearly zero loss at room temperature. Researchers demonstrated this switching when subjecting the material to a low-current electric field.

    Experiments at PPPL show remarkable agreement with satellite sightings

    Feature describes striking similarity of laboratory research findings with observations of the four-satellite Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission that studies magnetic reconnection in space.

    New X-ray imaging approach could boost nanoscale resolution for Advanced Photon Source Upgrade

    A long-standing problem in optics holds that an improved resolution in imaging is offset by a loss in the depth of focus. Now, scientists are joining computation with X-ray imaging as they develop a new and exciting technique to bypass this limitation.

    Two-dimensional materials skip the energy barrier by growing one row at a time

    News Release RICHLAND, Wash. -- A new collaborative study led by a research team at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and University of California, Los Angeles could provide engineers new design rules for creating microelectronics, membranes, and tissues, and open up better production methods for new materials.

    Blasting Molecules with Extreme X-Rays

    To understand how damage from high-energy X-rays affects imaging studies, scientists supported by the Department of Energy shot the most powerful X-ray laser in the world at a series of atoms and molecules. Surprisingly, the atoms within the molecules acted far differently than the isolated ones.

    Scientists Enter Unexplored Territory in Superconductivity Search

    Scientists mapping out the quantum characteristics of superconductors--materials that conduct electricity with no energy loss--have entered a new regime. Using newly connected tools named OASIS at Brookhaven Lab, they've uncovered previously inaccessible details of the "phase diagram" of one of the most commonly studied "high-temperature" superconductors.

    Human Exposures and Health Effects Associated with Unconventional Oil and Gas Development

    The Health Effects Institute (HEI) convened an Energy Research Committee to help ensure the protection of public health during such development. A symposium at the 2018 Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) Annual Meeting will summarize the Committee's review approach and preliminary findings and provide initial options for future research intended to fill knowledge gaps.

    Reflecting Antiferromagnetic Arrangements

    Scientists have demonstrated an x-ray imaging technique that could enable the development of smaller, faster, and more robust electronics that exploit electron spin.


    • Filters

    • × Clear Filters

    Blast to the future

    A grant from DOE's Technology Commercialization Fund will help researchers at Argonne and industry partners seek improvements to U.S. manufacturing by making discovery and design of new materials more efficient.

    Department of Energy to Provide $24 Million for Computer-Based Materials Design

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced plans to provide $24 million in new and renewal research awards to advance the development of sophisticated software for computer-based design of novel materials.

    Argonne scientists recognized for decades of pioneering leadership in research

    Argonne scientists Ali Erdemir and Jack Vaughey were named 2018 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

    Kurfess, Smith join ORNL to lead advanced manufacturing initiatives

    Two leaders in US manufacturing innovation, Thomas Kurfess and Scott Smith, are joining the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory to support its pioneering research in advanced manufacturing.

    Four Berkeley Lab Scientists Named AAAS Fellows

    Four Berkeley Lab scientists - Allen Goldstein, Sung-Hou Kim, Susannah Tringe, and Katherine Yelick - have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society.

    U.S. Department of Energy to Host Nationwide CyberForce Competition(tm) December 1

    Students from dozens of colleges/universities will participate in the U.S. Department of Energy's CyberForce Competition(tm) this weekend

    Seven ORNL researchers named 2019 INCITE award winners

    Seven researchers from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have been chosen by the Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment, also known as INCITE, program to lead scientific investigations that require the nation's most powerful computers. The ORNL-based projects span a broad range of the scientific spectrum and represent the potential of high-performance computing in ensuring America's scientific competitiveness and energy security.

    DOE Laboratories Win Gordon Bell Prize

    Two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories were recently awarded the 2018 Association for Computing Machinery's (ACM's) Gordon Bell Prize.

    Department of Energy Announces 32 R&D 100 Award Winners

    DOE researchers have won 32 of the R&D 100 awards given out this year by R&D Magazine. The annual awards are given in recognition of exceptional new products or processes that were developed and introduced into the marketplace during the previous year.

    Jefferson Lab Shares 2018 R&D 100 Award for Cancer Treatment Monitoring System

    The OARtrac(r) system, built by RadiaDyne and including technologies developed by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, has been awarded a 2018 R&D 100 Award by R&D Magazine.


    • Filters

    • × Clear Filters

    The Biermann Battery Effect: Spontaneous Generation of Magnetic Fields and Their Severing

    The mechanism responsible for creating intense magnetic fields in laser-driven plasmas also helps tear the fields apart.

    Subtlety and the Selective Art of Separating Lanthanides

    Unexpected molecular interactions involving water clusters have a subtle, yet profound, effect on extractants picking their targets.

    Review Examines the Science and Needs of Nitrogen-Based Transformations

    Advances in biochemistry and catalysis could lead to faster, greener nitrogen-rich fertilizer.

    Quickly Capture Tiny Particles Reacting

    New method takes a snapshot every millisecond of groups of light-scattering particles, showing what happens during industrially relevant reactions.

    New Technology Consistently Identifies Proteins from a Dozen Cells

    A new platform melding microfluidics and robotics allows more in-depth bioanalysis with fewer cells than ever before.

    Optimal Foraging: How Soil Microbes Adapt to Nutrient Constraints

    How microbial communities adjust to nutrient-poor soils at the genomic and proteomic level gives scientists insights into land use.

    Microbes Eat the Same in Labs and the Desert

    Analyses of natural communities forming soil crusts agree with laboratory studies of isolated microbe-metabolite relationships.

    Diverse Biofeedstocks Have High Ethanol Yields and Offer Biorefineries Flexibility

    Evidence suggests that biorefineries can accept various feedstocks without negatively impacting the amount of ethanol produced per acre.

    Opening Access to Explore the Synthetic Chemistry of Neptunium

    New, easily prepared starting material opens access to learning more about a difficult-to-control element in nuclear waste.

    Tiny Titanium Barrier Halts Big Problem in Fuel-Producing Solar Cells

    New design coats molecular components and dramatically improves stability under tough, oxidizing conditions.


    Spotlight

    Thursday October 11, 2018, 04:00 PM

    Research on Light-Matter Interaction Could Lead to Improved Electronic and Optoelectronic Devices

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

    Wednesday October 03, 2018, 07:05 PM

    Innovating Our Energy Future

    Oregon State University, College of Engineering

    Tuesday October 02, 2018, 03:05 PM

    Physics graduate student takes her thesis research to a Department of Energy national lab

    University of Alabama at Birmingham

    Friday September 21, 2018, 01:05 PM

    "Model" students enjoy Argonne campus life

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Thursday September 06, 2018, 01:05 PM

    Writing Code for a More Skilled and Diverse STEM Workforce

    Brookhaven National Laboratory

    Tuesday September 04, 2018, 11:30 AM

    New graduate student summer school launches at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

    Friday August 31, 2018, 06:05 PM

    The Gridlock State

    California State University (CSU) Chancellor's Office

    Friday August 31, 2018, 02:05 PM

    Meet Jasmine Hatcher and Trishelle Copeland-Johnson

    Brookhaven National Laboratory

    Friday August 24, 2018, 11:05 AM

    Argonne hosts Modeling, Experimentation and Validation Summer School

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Wednesday August 22, 2018, 01:05 PM

    Students affected by Hurricane Maria bring their research to SLAC

    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    Wednesday August 22, 2018, 10:05 AM

    Brookhaven Lab Pays Tribute to 2018 Summer Interns

    Brookhaven National Laboratory

    Monday August 20, 2018, 12:05 PM

    Changing How Buildings Are Made

    Washington University in St. Louis

    Thursday August 16, 2018, 12:05 PM

    CSUMB Selected to Host Architecture at Zero Competition in 2019

    California State University, Monterey Bay

    Friday July 20, 2018, 03:00 PM

    Department of Energy Invests $64 Million in Advanced Nuclear Technology

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

    Thursday July 19, 2018, 05:00 PM

    Professor Miao Yu Named the Priti and Mukesh Chatter '82 Career Development Professor

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

    Tuesday July 03, 2018, 11:05 AM

    2018 RHIC & AGS Annual Users' Meeting: 'Illuminating the QCD Landscape'

    Brookhaven National Laboratory

    Friday June 29, 2018, 06:05 PM

    Argonne welcomes The Martian author Andy Weir

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Monday June 18, 2018, 09:55 AM

    Creating STEM Knowledge and Innovations to Solve Global Issues Like Water, Food, and Energy

    Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA)

    Friday June 15, 2018, 10:00 AM

    Professor Emily Liu Receives $1.8 Million DoE Award for Solar Power Systems Research

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

    Thursday June 07, 2018, 03:05 PM

    Celebrating 40 years of empowerment in science

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Monday May 07, 2018, 10:30 AM

    Introducing Graduate Students Across the Globe to Photon Science

    Brookhaven National Laboratory

    Wednesday May 02, 2018, 04:05 PM

    Students from Massachusetts and Washington Win DOE's 28th National Science Bowl(r)

    Department of Energy, Office of Science

    Thursday April 12, 2018, 07:05 PM

    The Race for Young Scientific Minds

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Wednesday March 14, 2018, 02:05 PM

    Q&A: Al Ashley Reflects on His Efforts to Diversify SLAC and Beyond

    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    Thursday February 15, 2018, 12:05 PM

    Insights on Innovation in Energy, Humanitarian Aid Highlight UVA Darden's Net Impact Week

    University of Virginia Darden School of Business

    Friday February 09, 2018, 11:05 AM

    Ivy League Graduate, Writer and Activist with Dyslexia Visits CSUCI to Reframe the Concept of Learning Disabilities

    California State University, Channel Islands

    Wednesday January 17, 2018, 12:05 PM

    Photographer Adam Nadel Selected as Fermilab's New Artist-in-Residence for 2018

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)

    Wednesday January 17, 2018, 12:05 PM

    Fermilab Computing Partners with Argonne, Local Schools for Hour of Code

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)

    Wednesday December 20, 2017, 01:05 PM

    Q&A: Sam Webb Teaches X-Ray Science from a Remote Classroom

    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    Monday December 18, 2017, 01:05 PM

    The Future of Today's Electric Power Systems

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

    Monday December 18, 2017, 12:05 PM

    Supporting the Development of Offshore Wind Power Plants

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

    Tuesday October 03, 2017, 01:05 PM

    Stairway to Science

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Thursday September 28, 2017, 12:05 PM

    After-School Energy Rush

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Thursday September 28, 2017, 10:05 AM

    Bringing Diversity Into Computational Science Through Student Outreach

    Brookhaven National Laboratory

    Thursday September 21, 2017, 03:05 PM

    From Science to Finance: SLAC Summer Interns Forge New Paths in STEM

    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    Thursday September 07, 2017, 02:05 PM

    Students Discuss 'Cosmic Opportunities' at 45th Annual SLAC Summer Institute

    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    Thursday August 31, 2017, 05:05 PM

    Binghamton University Opens $70 Million Smart Energy Building

    Binghamton University, State University of New York

    Wednesday August 23, 2017, 05:05 PM

    Widening Horizons for High Schoolers with Code

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Saturday May 20, 2017, 12:05 PM

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Graduates Urged to Embrace Change at 211th Commencement

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

    Monday May 15, 2017, 01:05 PM

    ORNL, University of Tennessee Launch New Doctoral Program in Data Science

    Oak Ridge National Laboratory

    Friday April 07, 2017, 11:05 AM

    Champions in Science: Profile of Jonathan Kirzner

    Department of Energy, Office of Science

    Wednesday April 05, 2017, 12:05 PM

    High-Schooler Solves College-Level Security Puzzle From Argonne, Sparks Interest in Career

    Argonne National Laboratory

    Tuesday March 28, 2017, 12:05 PM

    Champions in Science: Profile of Jenica Jacobi

    Department of Energy, Office of Science

    Friday March 24, 2017, 10:40 AM

    Great Neck South High School Wins Regional Science Bowl at Brookhaven Lab

    Brookhaven National Laboratory

    Wednesday February 15, 2017, 04:05 PM

    Middle Schoolers Test Their Knowledge at Science Bowl Competition

    Argonne National Laboratory





    Showing results

    0-4 Of 2215