Eden Figuroa: Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Quantum Network Mastermind
+ As a new joint appointee at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, Eden Figueroa is getting accustomed to traversing between his roles within the Lab’s Computational Science Initiative (CSI) and Instrumentation Division while also overseeing the Quantum Information Technology group as a tenured professor at Stony Brook University. For most, working in so many places at once can be stressful and disconnecting. However, for Figueroa, who has a long-held fascination with quantum mechanics, navigating complicated connections serves to inspire the quantum networks currently being configured and tested by his team.
“Particles in the quantum-mechanics-entangled world share things even if they’re thousands of miles apart,” Figueroa said. “If you’ve seen Star Trek, it’s like when Kirk calls in, ‘Beam me up.’ We can use quantum entanglement to teleport information from one area to another at a speed that can’t be matched in classical systems.”
+ One of the most characterizing aspects of operating quantum hardware is the need to keep it cold—very cold; 2 K (-456°F) cold. The cold keeps particles as stationary as possible, enabling measurements to be taken. Figueroa realized that working at these super-cold temperatures was a limitation. When he asked his professor if a quantum memory could operate at room temperature, he was told: “I don’t think so, but prove me wrong.” That command was the impetus for Figueroa spending nearly three years working on various prototypes until he helped devise an operable room-temperature quantum memory, which has since been expanded into integrated, portable “shoebox-size” memories that serve a core role in how his team is building a quantum network.
+ “Building quantum memories provided an aspect of controlling nature at the most fundamental levels—photons being light and particles representing matter,” Figueroa explained. “This was quantum engineering at a most fundamental level.”
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