Professor Englund Wins Presidential and MURI Awards

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New York, NY—October 6, 2011—Dirk Englund, assistant professor of electrical engineering and of applied physics at The Fu Foundation School for Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University, has been awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers.
Englund, who is developing integrated quantum photonic networks to encode and shuttle information in the form of single photons, electrons, and nuclei, was nominated by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research for his “pioneering contributions to the theory and experiment of photonic nanostructures for controllable light/matter interactions at the level of single photons and single emitters, and for his development of quantum optics in semiconductor chips for applications in quantum information processing, quantum metrology, and novel optoelectronic devices and systems for optical interconnects.” The award includes $500,000 in research funding, to be used over five years.
In addition, Englund is part of a team that has just received a MURI (Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative) grant of $8 million from the Air Force Office of Science and Research to develop multi-functional light-matter interfaces based on neutral atoms and solids. Such interfaces are central to scaling systems for processing and communication of quantum information. The team, led by Alex Kuzmich of the Georgia Institute of Technology, includes researchers from Columbia Engineering, Georgia Tech, Harvard, Stanford, University of Wisconsin, University of Michigan, and MIT.
“I am extremely honored to receive the prestigious PECASE award,” said Englund, whose research addresses important problems in communications, computation, sensing, and efficient information technology. “Just as in the new MURI program, I’m fortunate to work with many excellent colleagues at the intersection of physics, engineering, and biology, which presents hundreds of interesting scientific questions, but also many exciting opportunities for new technologies that can have a major positive impact on society. For me, the PECASE is an important validation of the promise of this research, and I’m thrilled to be able to expand my group’s efforts with the additional support that is associated with the award.”
Englund and his Quantum Photonics Group are developing new technologies that use the rules of quantum mechanics to compute and communicate in new ways, including a possible new type of massively parallel computer built in photonic integrated chips that use elementary particles as memories and pass information via single photons through optical waveguides. Such a chip-based  `quantum  computer’ is one example of many architectures being developed around the world,  and would use quantum superpositions—particles in multiple states at the same time—to store and process enormous amounts of data in ways that are not possible on classical computers.
In other projects, Englund’s group is exploring how to use spin states of electrons and nuclei for diverse applications, such as imaging electrical signals in the brain, or building extremely precise clocks for high-precision global positioning systems and next-generation wireless communications.
A leading researcher in the emerging fields of chip-based quantum optics and nanophotonics, Englund focuses on examining fundamental questions in physics: how to control the radiative properties of an emitter through its electromagnetic surrounding, how to interact single photons and single emitters, or how to create non-local correlations between distant particles through the use of quantum entanglement. Work by Englund and his peers has brought many of the same phenomena into the realm of solid state physics on semiconductor chips, an approach that has enabled fundamental advances to the field of quantum optics and opened the door to chip-based applications of quantum optics phenomena in computing, communications, and metrology.
“We are very happy that Dirk Englund has won this prestigious award for his pioneering research,” said Columbia Engineering Dean Feniosky Peña-Mora. “He is well-deserving of such an honor and we offer him our hearty congratulations. Professor Englund is the epitome of our superb faculty here at Columbia Engineering—an extraordinary researcher, inspired teacher, and outstanding colleague— and we are proud to have him on our team.”
Englund, who was also awarded a Sloan Research Fellowship in Physics earlier this year, holds a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology and an M.S. in electrical engineering and Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford University. After postdoctoral work in Harvard’s physics department, he joined Columbia’s electrical engineering department in 2010 as an assistant professor, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics.
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Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, founded in 1864, offers programs in nine departments to both undergraduate and graduate students. With facilities specifically designed and equipped to meet the laboratory and research needs of faculty and students, Columbia Engineering is home to NSF-NIH funded centers in genomic science, molecular nanostructures, materials science, and energy, as well as one of the world’s leading programs in financial engineering. These interdisciplinary centers are leading the way in their respective fields while individual groups of engineers and scientists collaborate to solve some of modern society’s more difficult challenges.



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