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  • Quantum Information Science

Such “escape rooms” have become popular in recent years — immersive games where you and your friends (or strangers) search for clues and solve puzzles to defuse a simulated danger before time runs out.

Paul Kwiat, another University of Illinois physicist, is the creator of this particular escape room, which is one of the few, perhaps the only one, filled with puzzles that are based on science.

  • In the Media
  • Outreach
  • Quantum Information Science

Science News had the opportunity to try out a different version of LabEscape in Boston at a meeting of the American Physical Society in March. The puzzles are effective and artistic, and some of the reveals seem almost magical until the purveyors explain the scientific principles behind them at the end of the game. For example, some puzzles required the use of polarized glasses like those used to watch 3-D movies. Those challenges provided an opportunity to discuss the polarization of light — the orientation of light’s wiggling electromagnetic waves in a preferred direction. Only waves with the appropriate polarization make it through the lenses. The principle also reveals how 3-D movies work: Different polarizations make it through the right and left lenses, sending a different image to each eye.

  • Partnerships
  • Quantum Information Science

The Chicago Quantum Exchange, a growing intellectual hub for the research and development of quantum technology, will join forces with the IBM Q Network to provide leaps forward in electronics, computers, sensors and “unhackable” networks.

CQE member institutions will work with IBM Q scientists and engineers through IBM Q’s academic partner program to explore the field of quantum computing, including investigations into materials, fabrication techniques, algorithms, and software and hardware development. A critical component of the partnership will be to enhance efforts to train tomorrow’s quantum workforce; the IBM Q Network will fund up to five positions for postdoctoral researchers to work closely with scientists across the CQE to advance quantum computing.

The Chicago Quantum Exchange is anchored at the University of Chicago. Member institutions include the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The combined resources of the member institutions create a powerful hub of more than 100 scientists and engineers—among the world’s largest collaborative teams for quantum research.

  • In the Media
  • Outreach

Together with a team of five other physicists (the other interns in the lab), before entering the room I was handled information sheets covering some essential physics concepts laid out in a very digestible way. Indeed, the room, which is the brainchild of Paul Kwiat, a physics professor at the University of Illinois, is by all means not designed for physicists (even though it’s an absolute delight for them). It was created to provide an experience that demonstrates to the general public that physics is useful, permeates everyday objects and is, yes, fun.

  • Outreach

Each year, the American Physical Society’s March Meeting hosts the largest assembly of physicists in the nation, with over 11,000 attendees. In conjunction with the 2019 meeting, March 4–8 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is bringing two of its educational and entertaining outreach programs, Quantum Voyages and LabEscape.

  • In the Media
  • Quantum Information Science
  • Quantum Computing

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.

  • Outreach
  • Quantum Information Science
  • Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
  • Quantum Physics
  • Quantum Computing

A two-day summit in Chicago taking place November 8 and 9 has brought together leading experts in quantum information science to advance U.S. efforts in what’s been called the next technological “space race”—and to position Illinois at the forefront of that race. The inaugural Chicago Quantum Summit, hosted by the Chicago Quantum Exchange, includes high-level representation from Microsoft, IBM, Alphabet Inc.’s Google, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently joined the Chicago Quantum Exchange as a core member, making it one of the largest quantum information science (QIS) collaborations in the world. The exchange was formed last year as an alliance between the University of Chicago and the two Illinois-based national laboratories, Argonne and Fermilab.

Representing the U of I at the summit are physics professors Brian DeMarco, Paul Kwiat, and Dale Van Harlingen, who are key players in the planned Illinois Quantum Information Science and Technology Center (IQUIST) on the U of I campus. The U of I news bureau announced last week the university’s $15-million commitment to the new center, which will form a collaboration of physicists, engineers, and computer scientists to develop new algorithms, materials, and devices to advance QIS.

  • Research
  • Quantum Information Science
  • Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is making a $15 million investment in the emerging area of quantum information science and engineering, a field poised to revolutionize computing, communication, security, measurement and sensing by utilizing the unique and powerful capabilities of quantum mechanics.

  • In the Media

Paul Kwiat asks his volunteers to sit inside a small, dark room. As their eyes adjust to the lack of light, each volunteer props his or her head on a chin rest—as you would at an optometrist’s—and gazes with one eye at a dim red cross. On either side of the cross is an optical fiber, positioned to pipe a single photon of light at either the left or the right side of a volunteer’s eye.

Even as he verifies the human eye’s ability to detect single photons, Kwiat, an experimental quantum physicist at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, and his colleagues are setting their sights higher: to use human vision to probe the very foundations of quantum mechanics, according to a paper they submitted to the preprint server arXiv on June 21.

  • Outreach

LabEscape is calling all agents back to the lab to solve the continuing mystery of the disappearance of Professor Schrödenberg, a University of Illinois physicist who developed a top-secret quantum computer that can crack any digital-security encryption code in the world. Once again, it’s up to you and your team to save the free world from evil forces plotting its destruction, and you have precisely 60 minutes to do it. Mysterious circumstances and new intelligence have reopened this investigation—unhackable messages were hacked three days ago, there are power surges coming from Dr. S’s abandoned secret lab, and her missing technology and a hard drive that were lost before her disappearance have now resurfaced.

LabEscape, a science-themed escape room at Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana, first opened in January 2017. Paul Kwiat, a physics professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, initiated the nonprofit LabEscape project two years ago as a community outreach effort, with the goal of showing that science can be fun, beautiful, useful, and accessible to all.

  • Outreach

It’s up to you and your team to save the free world from evil forces plotting its destruction, and you have precisely 60 minutes to do it. You must find out what happened to Professor Schrödenberg, a University of Illinois physicist who disappeared after developing a top-secret quantum computer that can crack any digital-security encryption code in the world.  Unfortunately, the previous groups of special agents assigned to the case disappeared while investigating the very room in which you now find yourself locked up, Schrödenberg’s secret lab.

LabEscape is a new science-themed escape room now open at Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana, testing the puzzle-solving skills of groups of up to six participants at a time. Escape rooms, a new form of entertainment cropping up in cities across the U.S. and around the globe, provide in-person mystery-adventure experiences that have been compared to living out a video-game or movie script. A team of participants is presented with a storyline and locked into a room with only one hour to find and decipher a sequence of interactive puzzles that will unlock the door and complete the mission. Two escape room businesses are already in operation in the area, C-U Adventures in Time and Space in Urbana and Brainstorm Escapes in Champaign.

 

  • Research
  • AMO/Quantum Physics
  • Quantum Physics
  • AMO Physics
  • Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics

Einstein was wrong about at least one thing: There are, in fact, “spooky actions at a distance,” as now proven by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), including several members of physicist Paul Kwiat’s research group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • Research
  • AMO Physics
  • Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
  • Quantum Physics

Putting a hole in the center of the donut—a mid-nineteenth-century invention—allows the deep-fried pastry to cook evenly, inside and out. As it turns out, the hole in the center of the donut also holds answers for a type of more efficient and reliable quantum information teleportation, a critical goal for quantum information science.

 

Now, by taking advantage of the mathematical properties intrinsic to the shape of a donut—or torus, in mathematical terminology—a research team led by physicist Paul Kwiat of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has made great strides by realizing “superdense teleportation”. This new protocol, developed by coauthor physicist Herbert Bernstein of Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, effectively reduces the resources and effort required to teleport quantum information, while at the same time improving the reliability of the information transfer.