"Building Quantum Hardware with Classical Nanoantennas"

Pankaj Jha, Postdoctoral Scholar, California Institute of Technology

January 15th (Tuesday), 10:00am
Engineering Science Building (ESB), Room 1001

The theory of quantum mechanics developed in the early 20th century allowed us to understand the quantum nature of light, matter, as well as their interactions. This understanding led to the invention of many revolutionary technologies, including the laser and the transistor. Likewise, at the end of the 20th century, our ability to control and manipulate individual quantum systems has opened the door to a “second quantum revolution,” and thus to a new generation of quantum technologies. Although the second quantum revolution is still in its infancy, its advancement is anticipated to have a profound impact on our daily lives and help solve some of the grand challenges of our century, including such key sectors as energy, environment, and healthcare.

One of the most promising routes towards quantum technologies is photonics. In the recent past, photonics has seen enormous growth owing to breakthrough advances in nanofabrication tools, novel material-synthesis techniques, and dramatic increase in our computing power. These advances have enabled the realization of novel nanodevices, as well as the development of “artificial materials” – known as metamaterials, which exhibit optical properties unlike those found in nature. However, progress in photonic quantum technologies has been constrained due to a lack of suitable materials with desired optical, electrical, and mechanical properties and the challenges in achieving coherent interaction of light with matter at the quantum level.

In this seminar, I will present a new approach for building chip-scale quantum hardware with atoms and atom-like defects in wide bandgap materials, such as hexagonal boron nitride, interfaced with planar arrays of classical nanoantennas with dimensions in-between 2D and 3D – known as transdimensional metamaterials. In sharp contrast to previous works, I will show that such a metamaterial can be judiciously designed to be efficiently utilized as a photonic platform at single and few-photon levels. Moreover, similar interfaces have recently enabled us to develop topologically reconfigurable quantum metamaterials, as well as robust, nonequilibrium light localization in active plasmonic heterostructures. In the second part of the seminar, I will discuss our ongoing work on using such hybrid interfaces for “noiseless” amplification of weak optical beams, outlining its wealth of nanoscale applications. I will show an instantiation of this photon addition technology, applied to the imaging of geosynchronous object. Finally, I shall conclude by presenting my vision for this quantum hardware platform, outlining its usages for on-chip light sources, quantum sensors, and quantum repeaters, to name a few.

About Pankaj Jha:

photo of Pankaj K. JhaDr. Pankaj K. Jha is a postdoctoral scholar with Prof. Harry Atwater at the California Institute of Technology. His research is focused on building photonic quantum devices with systems ranging from atoms, atom-like defects in crystals to nanomaterials, metamaterials and their hybrid combinations. Prior to Caltech, he was a postdoctoral scholar with Prof. Xiang Zhang at UC Berkeley. At Berkeley, his research on interfacing quantum optics with materials science was highlighted by Berkeley National Lab, Kavli Foundation, Moore Foundation, Nature Photonics, and others. For this work, he was selected as one of the finalists for the Tingye Li Innovation Prize 2016 for early career professionals. Dr. Jha received his Ph.D. in Physics under the supervision of Prof. Marlan Scully at Texas A&M University. His doctoral work was recognized with several awards, including Robert A. Welch Foundation Fellowship and Herman F. Heep and Minnie Belle Heep Foundation Fellowship.

Hosted by: Professor John Bowers