Quantum computing pioneer to share insights in Bethe lectures

Nature allows the storage and manipulation of data in new and powerful ways using quantum mechanics, and physicists are harnessing the exponential power of this technology by developing quantum computers using superconductors.

In the Spring 2022 Hans Bethe Lecture, physicist John Martinis will explain the basic concepts behind quantum computing, show recent data from a “quantum supremacy” experiment and explain future uses of quantum algorithms.

Martinis’ talk, “Building a Quantum Computer,” is April 27, 7:30 p.m. in Schwartz Auditorium, Rockefeller Hall.

“Quantum computation is already proving to be a useful tool in basic science and is making rapid progress toward broad applications,” said Dan Ralph, the F.R. Newman Professor of Physics and chair of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Martinis is a central pioneer in this field, and a wonderful lecturer about where the field stands and where it is going.”

Martinis is the Worster Chair in experimental physics at University of California, Santa Barbara, and has worked in high levels of industry with the aim of building the first quantum computers.

Martinis did pioneering experiments in superconducting qubits (quantum bits) in the mid-1980s for his Ph.D. thesis at the University of California, Berkley. He has studied low-temperature-device physics, focusing on quantum computation since the late 1990s. He was awarded the London Prize in low-temperature physics in 2014 for his work in this field.

From 2014-20, he worked at Google to build a useful quantum computer, culminating in a quantum supremacy experiment in 2019. He was awarded the John Stewart Bell prize in 2021.

As a part of the Hans Bethe Lecture series, Martinis will give a physics colloquium, “Quantum Error Correction for Mortals,” on April 25 at 4 p.m. in Schwartz Auditorium, Rockefeller Hall, and an Applied and Engineering Physics/Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics seminar, “My Trek from Fundamental to Industrial Research: Quantum Systems Engineering,” on April 26 at 4 p.m. in 700 Clark Hall.

The Hans Bethe Lecture series, established by the Department of Physics and the College of Arts and Sciences, honors Bethe, Cornell professor of physics from 1936 until his death in 2005. Bethe won the 1967 Nobel Prize in physics for his description of the nuclear processes that power the sun.

Kate Blackwood is a writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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