College of Engineering Seminars & Speakers

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Physics Careers Seminar: "From Demons to Trapped-ion Qubits"

Event Type
Department of Physics
204 Loomis
Sep 29, 2023   10:30 am  
Dr. Ali Husain, Physicist, Quantinuum
Lance Cooper
Originating Calendar
Physics - Careers Seminar

Abstract: I got a PhD in physics because physics is fun. As a postdoc, I felt academia was the only way to do physics research and keep having fun. I was wrong! I now work in industry at Quantinuum building the best quantum computers out there with trapped ions and am loving it.

In this talk I'll go through my journey starting with my PhD working on strange metals and discovering demon quasiparticles in condensed matter physics. Then, I'll go over my jump from being a condensed matter postdoc to an AMO research scientist working on trapped-ion quantum computing at Quantinuum. This was a big leap going from condensed matter where one does (relatively) simple experiments on uncontrollably complex quantum materials to quantum computing where one builds incredibly complex experiments to realize a fully-controlled quantum system. I'll go over some lessons from my journey and explain why the best experimental physicists I've ever met are my current coworkers. P.S. We're always looking to hire great people!

Bio: I got my BA in Physics at UC Berkeley in 2014 and started my PhD at UIUC after an internship in the semiconductor industry. At UIUC, I joined the Abbamonte group and built up the technique of momentum-resolved electron energy-loss spectroscopy for studying quantum materials. In the meantime, I started up the student-run Condensed Matter Journal Club in Urbana and chaired the Gordon Research Seminar on Correlated Electron Systems. After completing my PhD during the pandemic in 2020, I received the Stewart Blusson Prize postdoctoral fellowship to work with Prof. George Sawatzky at the University of British Columbia. Midway through my postdoc, I found myself wanting something more exciting, and so I landed a job in quantum computing at Quantinuum (founded as the merger of Honeywell and Cambridge Quantum). Since 2022, I've been at Quantinuum as a research scientist working on trapped-ion quantum computers based on the quantum charge-coupled device (QCCD) architecture.

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