Paul G Kwiat



Paul G Kwiat

Primary Research Area

  • AMO / Quantum Physics
337B Loomis Laboratory

For more information


Professor Paul G. Kwiat received his Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley (1993), where his dissertation was on nonclassical effects from spontaneous parametric downconversion. After two years as a Lise Meitner Fellow with the quantum optics group of Prof. Anton Zeilinger (at the Univ. of Innsbruck, Austria), he went to Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) as an Oppenheimer Fellow; in 1998 he became a technical staff member in the Neutron Science and Technology group of Physics Division. He has given invited talks at numerous national and international conferences and has authored more than 100 articles on various topics in quantum optics and quantum information, including several review articles. He is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and the American Physical Society and an Expert Panel member for both the Quantum Computation and Quantum Cryptography Roadmaps.

In 1998, Professor Kwiat was awarded the LANL Fellows Prize for his work on optical studies of quantum information. He has done pioneering research on the phenomena of quantum interrogation, quantum erasure, and optical implementations of quantum information protocols. He is a primary inventor of the world's first two sources of polarization-entangled photons from down-conversion, which have been used for quantum cryptography, dense-coding, quantum teleportation, entanglement distillation, and most recently, optical quantum gates. In January 2001, he joined the Physics faculty as the second Bardeen Chair.

Research Interests

  • Ph.D. thesis title: Nonclassical Effects from Spontaneous Parametric Downconversion

Research Statement

spatial emission directions of entangled photons produced from a downconversion crystalQuantum Optics and Quantum Information — In our quantum optics lab, we use photons to investigate a range of topics from foundations of quantum mechanics (such as tests of nonlocality, the quantum Zeno effect, and so forth) to quantum cryptography (enabling for the first time provable unconditional security), communication (including "teleportation"), and computation (investigating simple quantum logic, algorithms, and decoherence-defeating measures). We have developed methods to produce pairs of photons that share the most mysterious of all quantum properties -- entanglement. The goal now is to improve these systems, to explore uncharted waters of novel quantum mechanical states, and to learn to use them to advantage in all areas of information processing.

Photonic Quantum Information Systems — Our goal is to develop the following optical quantum technologies for quantum information processing (including computation, cryptography, and metrology), and apply them to critical problems in these areas: Entangled-photon sources and characterization, quantum state transducer, photon storage and quantum memory, periodic single photon source, and photon number-resolving solid-state photomultipliers (SSPMs). These are central resources for many quantum communication applications.

Hyper-entanglement for Advanced Quantum Communication — Hyper-entanglement — the property that quantum systems, photons in our case, may be simultaneously entangled in multiple degrees of freedom — promises to enhance the capabilities of current quantum communication protocols, and to enable new ones.  We will extend  our experience in the creation, manipulation and characterization of hyper-entanglement in the photon pairs produced via spontaneous parametric down-conversion, and employ them for several relevant advanced quantum communication applications: quantum super-dense coding, production and application of bound entanglement, optimized teleportation beyond single qubits, and entanglement-enhanced quantum fingerprinting. Our research in these areas will substantially increase understanding of the benefits — and limitations — of using hyper-entanglement for quantum information processing, extending the capabilities of current communication protocols, and enabling new ones.

Optical Quantum Computing — Quantum computing uses the unique quantum properties of small systems to enable exponential computational speedups for certain classes of problems. Simple gates have been realized in several systems; the cleanest of these have been using photons as the quantum bits ("qubits"). Now we are investigating the feasibility of transitioning these small scall results to a much larger system, eventually capable of performing universal computations. We are exploring two approaches in detail. The first uses the newly devised "cluster" state paradigm, thereby reducing resoures requirements by several orders of magnitude. The second approach, relying on weak nonlinear effects, reduces the resource requirements even further.


  • APS Outstanding Referee Award 2008 (2009)
  • Optical Society of America R. W. Wood Prize (2009) (2009)
  • Young Scholar Award (3rd place), Amazing Light competition (2005)
  • Fellow, Optical Society of America (2005)
  • J. David Murley Milestone Award for Outstanding Achievements in Quantum Cryptography (2004)
  • Descartes Prize (2004)
  • Fellow, American Physical Society (2002)
  • Bardeen Chair, Dept. of Physics, Univ. of Illinois (2001-present)
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows Prize (1999)

Semesters Ranked Excellent Teacher by Students

Fall 2013PHYS 214
Spring 2004PHYS 112
Spring 2003PHYS 498
Spring 2001PHYS 498

Teaching Statement

My intent is to motivate students to care about these topics (e.g., electricity and magnetism, and thermal physics), by showing the ubiquitous application to our everyday lives, in addition to cutting edge technologies.

Selected Articles in Journals

Related news

  • 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.