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

  • 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.