Photonic quantum simulators: group update from Dimitris Angelakis

Research and people news from the six-strong group of Dimitris.
26 July 2013

Group members in discussion: from left to right are Lee Changhyoup (Research Fellow), Noh Changsuk (Research Fellow), Priyam Das (Research Fellow), Dimitris Angelakis (Principal Investigator) and Amit Rai (Research Fellow).


Dimitris's group works on theoretical quantum optics and implementations of quantum information. Particular interests include quantum simulations of condensed matter effects with photons.

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What recent work from your group would you like to highlight?

We've done quite a bit of work on using photons for quantum simulation, including making some of the first proposals. We recently showed that this simulation approach could even target a long-standing problem in particle physics. Our set-up could in principle use table-top equipment to probe physics that is otherwise only accessible at giant particle accelerators.

What research directions are you particularly excited by at the moment?

I think we're at a turning point for the work on photonic simulations. My group is all theorists, but there are now experimental groups elsewhere who are on the brink of being able to perform the experiments we've suggested. We have already established collaborations with groups in Germany and the UK, and we intend to work with newly established groups at CQT that are planning experiments in related directions.

This year I was invited to give a talk at the March Meeting of the American Physical Society. My talk was "From Mott transitions to interacting relativistic theories with light: A brief history of photonic quantum simulators". This conference is the biggest meeting in physics, and the fact they had a session devoted to quantum simulation with photons shows the community is recognising this as an active field. A few of my group members came with me for the meeting and they presented different parts of our activities.

Any big plans in the pipeline?

There are numerous physical phenomena out there, of both fundamental and technological importance, that could be understood with quantum simulators. These include exotic physics found in the Standard Model and aspects of quantum magnetism and superconductivity. Some CQT colleagues and I are applying for funding so that even some of the most ambitious experiments could be tried in their labs.

Any people news you want to share?

I have a joint appointment as faculty at the Science Department of the Technical University of Crete, in Greece, but spent the past year in Singapore on sabbatical, bringing my wife and three kids with me. That was a big move as the little ones could not speak either English or Mandarin, but they are picking it up fast! I like to keep the group small and coherent but we are going to grow a little. I am looking forward to hiring two new students and a postdoc soon — I encourage excellent candidates to apply. We are also looking forward to the graduation of Mingxia Huo. She is a PhD student who I co-supervised with CQT Principal Investigator Kwek Leong Chuan, and she has just submitted her thesis on "Quantum simulations with photons in one-dimensional nonlinear waveguides". She's job-hunting and I hope she's going to find a good post-doc position.