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Mohammad Maghrebi and Johannes Pollanen win prestigious NSF CAREER Awards

Picture of MSU CAREER Award winners
PA NSF CAREER award recipients Mohammad Maghrebi (left) and Johannes Pollanen (right). Credit: Harley J. Seeley.

Mohammad Maghrebi and Johannes Pollanen have received 2022 NSF Early CAREER Faculty Awards. Their cutting-edge research is pushing the limits of theoretical and experimental quantum science, while their devotion to education is preparing the next generation of scientists to propel their field even further. The Early CAREER Faculty Award is one of NSF’s most prestigious grants and is given to faculty members who demonstrate leadership in research and education and have a passion for integrating the two.

Maghrebi and his team will focus on highly excited quantum systems involving many interacting particles. This research is particularly relevant in the new era of non-equilibrium quantum systems. Studying these systems will shed light on how the delicate quantum correlations evolve or even survive in the dynamics. This research has far-reaching applications for the leading platforms of quantum computation and could lead to a new paradigm for quantum phases of matter.

In addition to mentoring graduate and undergraduate students, Maghrebi plans to use the award funding toward public outreach. Using art to communicate physics, Maghrebi is taking his workshop series and website to another level. The “Schrödinger’s Cat in Town!” workshop brings together physicists, artists and the public at MSU’s Broad Museum Art Lab, while the online project “Bohring Art” aims to present the modern fact of quantum physics to the next generation of quantum scientists and engineers.

Pollanen will use his CAREER grant to expand the fundamental knowledge of “quantum acoustic” systems and how they might realize new quantum technologies. Pollanen and his lab have figured out how to design, build and control hybrid systems based on superconducting quantum bits (qubits) and high-frequency surface acoustic waves.

Pollanen’s CAREER award will help fund the education and research of multiple graduate students in his Laboratory for Hybrid Quantum Systems and their efforts to develop new hybrid quantum systems. They hope to make new discoveries related to the coupling of single quantum excitations in these systems, which can lead to technological advances in frequency conversion and memories for future quantum computers.

Pollanen is also working to transform the junior-level undergraduate Quantum Mechanics course into an interactive “spins first” format, adding three new quantum experiments to the Advanced Undergraduate Lab Course and creating a new Quantum Computing graduate course. He is also personally involved in the diversification of quantum information science researchers at MSU by helping to recruit students from underrepresented backgrounds to join in the cutting-edge quantum computing research going on at the university.