Science Snapshots from Berkeley Lab

An experiment to study gravity at the quantum scale, insights into an antibiotic-building enzyme, and the backstory of an incredible new protein prediction algorithm are featured in this month’s roundup of science highlights.

Uncovering Hidden Local States in a Quantum Material

States of local broken symmetry at high temperature—observed in several materials, including one with a metal-insulator transition, an iron-based superconductor, and an insulating mineral part of the Earth’s upper mantle—may enable the technologically relevant properties arising at much-lower temperature.

Quantum-nonlocality at all speeds

The phenomenon of quantum nonlocality defies our everyday intuition. It shows the strong correlations between several quantum particles some of which change their state instantaneously when the others are measured, regardless of the distance between them. While this phenomenon has been confirmed for slow moving particles, it has been debated whether nonlocality is preserved when particles move very fast at velocities close to the speed of light, and even more so when those velocities are quantum mechanically indefinite.

5th cohort of five innovators selected for Chain Reaction Innovations program

Five new innovators will be joining Chain Reaction Innovations, the entrepreneurship program at Argonne National Laboratory, as part of the elite program’s fifth cohort to develop clean energy startups that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase U.S. competitiveness in emerging energy technologies.

Nation’s first quantum startup accelerator, Duality, launches at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center and the Chicago Quantum Exchange

The University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Chicago Quantum Exchange today announced the launch of Duality, the first accelerator program in the nation that is exclusively dedicated to startup companies focused on quantum science and technology—a rapidly emerging area that is poised to drive transformative advances across multiple industries.

Designing Materials from First Principles with Yuan Ping

The UC Santa Cruz professor uses computing resources at Brookhaven Lab’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials to run calculations for quantum information science, spintronics, and energy research.

Eight ways Argonne advanced science in 2020

Throughout 2020, Argonne answered fundamental science questions and provided solutions for the world.

Quantifying Quantumness: A Mathematical Project ‘of Immense Beauty’

Large objects behave in accordance with the classical laws of mechanics formulated by Sir Isaac Newton and small ones are governed by quantum mechanics, where an object can behave as both a wave and a particle. The boundary between the classical and quantum realms has always been of great interest. Research reported in AVS Quantum Science, considers the question of what makes something “more quantum” than another — is there a way to characterize “quantumness”?

All together now: Experiments with twisted 2D materials catch electrons behaving collectively

A team led by the University of Washington reports that carefully constructed stacks of graphene — a 2D form of carbon — can exhibit highly correlated electron properties. The team also found evidence that this type of collective behavior likely relates to the emergence of exotic magnetic states.

Six Argonne researchers receive DOE Early Career Research Program awards

Argonne scientists Michael Bishof, Maria Chan, Marco Govini, Alessandro Lovato, Bogdan Nicolae and Stefan Wild have received funding for their research as part of DOE’s Early Career Research Program.

Joined nano-triangles pave the way to magnetic carbon materials

Graphene triangles with an edge length of only a few atoms behave like peculiar quantum magnets. When two of these nano-triangles are joined, a “quantum entanglement” of their magnetic moments takes place: the structure becomes antiferromagnetic. This could be a breakthrough for future magnetic materials, and another step towards spintronics. An international group led by Empa researchers recently published the results in the journal “Angewandte Chemie”.

Theoretical breakthrough shows quantum fluids rotate by corkscrew mechanism

Scientists performed simulations of merging rotating superfluids, revealing a peculiar corkscrew-shaped mechanism that drives the fluids into rotation without the need for viscosity.

ORNL, LANL-developed quantum technologies go the distance

For the second year in a row, a team of scientists from DOE’s Oak Ridge and Los Alamos National Laboratories led a demonstration hosted by EPB, a utility and telecommunications company, to test quantum-based technologies that could improve the cybersecurity, longevity and efficiency of the nation’s power grid. Among other successes, the researchers drastically increased the range these resources can cover in collaboration with new industry partner Qubitekk.

Making a Material World Better, Faster Now: Q&A With Materials Project Director Kristin Persson

Berkeley Lab’s Kristin Persson shares her thoughts on what inspired her to launch the Materials Project online database, the future of materials research and machine learning, and how she found her own way into a STEM career.

Fourth cohort of 6 innovators selected for Chain Reaction Innovations program

Six new innovators will be joining Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI), the entrepreneurship program at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, as part of the elite program’s fourth cohort.

Argonne’s Valerii Vinokur awarded Fritz London Prize

Valerii Vinokur, a senior scientist and distinguished fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, has been awarded the Fritz London Memorial Prize for his work in condensed matter and theoretical physics.

How a Magnet Could Help Boost Understanding of Superconductivity

Physicists have unraveled a mystery behind the strange behavior of electrons in a ferromagnet, a finding that could eventually help develop high temperature superconductivity. A Rutgers co-authored study of the unusual ferromagnetic material appears in the journal Nature.

A joint venture at the nanoscale

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory report fabricating and testing a superconducting nanowire device applicable to high-speed photon counting. This pivotal invention will allow nuclear physics experiments that were previously thought impossible.

Creating the Heart of a Quantum Computer: Developing Qubits

To use quantum computers on a large scale, we need to improve the technology at their heart – qubits. Qubits are the quantum version of conventional computers’ most basic form of information, bits. The DOE’s Office of Science is supporting research into developing the ingredients and recipes to build these challenging qubits.

Tiny Quantum Sensors Watch Materials Transform Under Pressure

Scientists at Berkeley Lab have developed a diamond anvil sensor that could lead to a new generation of smart, designer materials, as well as the synthesis of new chemical compounds, atomically fine-tuned by pressure.

The Beauty of Imperfections: Linking Atomic Defects to 2D Materials’ Electronic Properties

Scientists at Berkeley Lab have revealed how atomic defects emerge in transition metal dichalcogenides, and how those defects shape the 2D material’s electronic properties. Their findings could provide a versatile yet targeted platform for designing 2D materials for quantum information science.

Structured Light Promises Path to Faster, More Secure Communications

Quantum mechanics has come a long way during the past 100 years but still has a long way to go. In AVS Quantum Science, researchers from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa review the progress being made in using structured light in quantum protocols to create a larger encoding alphabet, stronger security and better resistance to noise.

On quantum, “we’ve only scratched the surface.” Director of Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Quantum Testbed available to talk what’s next

Irfan Siddiqi, director of Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Quantum Testbed, has been featured on the potential of quantum technologies in MIT Technology Review and NBC’s PressHere and also given testimony to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on training…

[email protected] recently announced that its quantum computer made a huge breakthrough. What exactly is quantum computing? What does it require? @JHUPhysicsAstro postdoc Yufan Li can explain.

Google recently announced that its quantum computer made a huge breakthrough and can perform a calculation that would normally take thousands of years in mere minutes. What exactly is quantum computing? What does it require? Johns Hopkins University’s Yufan Li,…

Seeing sound: Scientists observe how acoustic interactions change materials at the atomic level

By using sound waves, scientists have begun to explore fundamental stress behaviors in a crystalline material that could form the basis for quantum information technologies.

2000 atoms in two places at once

The quantum superposition principle has been tested on a scale as never before in a new study by scientists at the University of Vienna in collaboration with the University of Basel. Hot, complex molecules composed of nearly two thousand atoms were brought into a quantum superposition and made to interfere. By confirming this phenomenon – “the heart of quantum mechanics”, in Richard Feynman’s words – on a new mass scale, improved constraints on alternative theories to quantum mechanics have been placed. The work will be published in Nature Physics.

Heather J. Lynch, PhD

Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists Announces 2019 National Laureates

An ecologist from Stony Brook University, a theoretical physicist from University of Colorado Boulder and a chemical biologist from Harvard University Three female scientists have been named Laureates of the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists, each receiving $250,000, the…