Elizabeth Goldschmidt receives NSF CAREER Award

2/21/2022 9:00:00 AM

Jessica Raley for Illinois Physics

Illinois Physics Assistant Professor Elizabeth Goldschmidt has been selected for a 2022 National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award. This prestigious award recognizes outstanding junior faculty who excel in both research and education and who have the potential to become lifetime leaders in their respective fields.

Professor Goldschmidt
Professor Goldschmidt


Goldschmidt is an experimentalist specializing in quantum optics for applications in quantum information and quantum networking. Her research group focuses on creating efficient quantum light-matter interfaces, which are essential for building scalable optical quantum technologies. In particular, members of her lab use rare-earth atoms in solid state hosts to store and manipulate photonic qubits. Rare-earth atoms are especially well-suited for these applications because they can hold onto quantum information longer than other emitters and in a wide variety of material platforms.


Goldschmidt’s CAREER award will support a project titled, “Dynamically Reconfigurable Cavity Quantum Electrodynamics with Solid-State Quantum Emitters.” This project is a continuation of her ongoing work on quantum light-matter interfaces. One way to create a quantum light-matter interface is to put the atoms inside an optical cavity. Inside the cavity, reflective surfaces cause photons to bounce back and forth, allowing light to pass by the atoms many times.


Goldschmidt plans to create a novel optical cavity based on a Dynamic Rare-Earth Atomic Mirror (DREAM). She will use lasers to manipulate an ensemble of rare-earth atoms and turn them into a highly-reflective mirror, allowing her to create an optical cavity. Rare-earth atoms have been used to make mirrors in the past, but the mirrors have not been reflective enough for this application. Goldschmidt’s plan will allow her both to create surfaces with enough reflectivity to build an optical cavity, and to dynamically turn it on and off using another laser beam. One benefit of this approach is that it requires no fabrication, and thus the optical cavity can be created on demand.


The CAREER award also has an outreach component, for which Goldschmidt will design and implement the mentorship program for the Open Quantum Initiative Fellowship, a new summer undergraduate research fellowship. This fellowship—sponsored by the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE)—will target students from historically under-represented groups. Following a summer conducting research at one of the CQE partner institutions, students will have opportunities throughout the academic year to attend special events and hear invited speakers, allowing for ongoing community-building and career guidance beyond the summer program, and with the intention that students will return for a second summer to gain more experience. The first cohort will begin in summer 2022.


Goldschmidt completed her graduate studies in 2014 at the University of Maryland, where she worked on atomic physics, quantum optics, and quantum information science. She continued this research as a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) from 2014 to 2016. Before joining the faculty at Illinois Physics in 2019, Goldschmidt worked at the Army Research Laboratory, where she specialized in quantum optics for applications in quantum networking. 


In addition to her appointment as Assistant Professor of Physics, Goldschmidt also has an affiliate appointment in Electrical and Computer Engineering. She is a member of the Illinois Quantum Information Science and Technology Center (IQUIST), the Materials Research Laboratory (MRL), and the NSF Quantum Leap Challenge Institute on Hybrid Quantum Architectures and Networks (HQAN).