Faulkner receives DOE Early Career Award

Siv Schwink
6/21/2018

Assistant Professor Thomas Faulkner
Assistant Professor Thomas Faulkner
Assistant Professor of Physics Thomas Faulkner has been selected by the US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science to receive an Early Career Award. The DOE Early Career Research Program, now in its ninth year, provides award recipients with significant funding over a five year period. Faulkner is among 84 scientists at U.S. universities and DOE-supported national laboratories to be selected this year. He is one of only two scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to receive the honor this year.

The Early Career Award recognizes promising scientists within 10 years of having earned their doctoral degrees, working in research areas supported by the DOE Office of Science. Faulkner’s research proposal in theoretical high-energy physics is entitled, “New perspectives on QFT and gravity from quantum entanglement.”

Faulkner will use the grant to study fundamental aspects of quantum field theory (QFT) and the nature of spacetime and gravity via the patterns of quantum entanglement present in these theories. These patterns will be harnessed to find new constraints on the dynamics of QFT and quantum gravity.

According to Faulkner, these topics find a natural home within the holographic duality, a deep mathematical correspondence discovered in string theory where a gravitational system can be described by a quantum system without gravity. By studying the spatial distribution of quantum correlation in various quantum systems, Faulkner hopes to directly observe the holographic emergence of quantum gravity within this setting and to characterize the spacetime structure that emerges along with it.

With this research, Faulkner aims to shed new light on the thermodynamic nature of gravity and to explore the implications of this paradigm for our understanding of the unification of gravity with quantum mechanics. He intends to develop new tools for studying the structure of quantum entanglement in QFT. In so doing, the powerful constraints satisfied by entanglement and its generalizations will place bounds on the basic data of the QFT. In turn these bounds will be related to causality constraints and quantum energy conditions, which are local and non-local bounds on the energy density for arbitrary out-of-equilibrium states of the QFT.

Faulkner received his bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Melbourne in 2003. He received his doctoral degree from MIT in 2009 working under Hong Liu and Krishna Rajagopal. His thesis involved using string theory techniques to study QCD under extreme conditions. Faulkner held postdoctoral positions at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara (2009­2012) and at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University (2012­2013). Faulkner joined the faculty at Illinois Physics in 2014. Faulkner is a recipient of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award (2015).

A list of the 84 awardees, their institutions, and titles of their research projects can be viewed at http://science.energy.gov/early-career/.

Recent News

Quantum information science has been called the next technological “space race.” And the University of Illinois is positioning itself to be at the forefront of that race. In November, the U of I pledged $15 million for the formation of the Illinois Quantum Information Science and Technology Center (or IQUIST). Two of the leading experts in the field, Illinois physics professors Brian DeMarco and Paul Kwiat join the show to discuss its vast future applications. Both professors represented the University of Illinois at the first ever Chicago Quantum Summit in November. DeMarco was invited to the Advancing American Leadership in Quantum Information Science Summit at the White House last fall.

  • In the Media

Anderson was a strong believer in education and his philanthropy and volunteerism reflected this. He was dedicated to providing educational opportunities to others.  He served as a Life Trustee at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and was a trustee of the Norwalk Community College Foundation. He was a member of the Visiting Committee of the University of Illinois College of Engineering, where he was inducted into their Engineering Hall of Fame in 2010. He and his wife Lois sponsored the Distance Learning Center at Illinois and endowed scholarships at R.P.I., Norwalk Community College and Northwestern University.

  • In the Media

As the chair of the NASA Fundamental Physical Sciences  Review Board, which has oversight responsibility for the recently launched Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL), Professor Brian DeMarco plays a seminal role in the "Coolest Experiment in the Universe," taking place on the International Space Station. DeMarco is featured in the video released in conjunction with this press release. The ultra-cold-atom experiment will study a Bose-Einstein condensate in space to uncover a new understanding of its properties and interactions at a temperature barely above absolute zero.

  • Accolades

Professor Peter Abbamonte has been named the Fox Family Professor in Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Named faculty appointments signify a distinction beyond that of professorial rank, recognizing distinguished scholars for their prominence in research, teaching, and service.