$16 million grant for quantum research awarded to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and international team of researchers

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BEER-SHEVA, Israel, November 24, 2020 – Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) theoretical physicist Prof. Yigal Meir and colleagues worldwide have been awarded a prestigious $16 million grant to study quantum electronic devices.

The 2020 European Research Council Synergy Grant (ERC) is only one of 34 proposals that received funding out of more than 440 proposals submitted awarded for ambitious, collaborative projects. The grant will enable the teams to develop fundamentally novel thermodynamic measurement methods, They will investigate phenomena in quantum electronic devices.

The research team includes Prof. Meir, from the BGU Department of Physics, Prof. Klaus Ensslin, ETH in Zurich, Switzerland); Prof. Josh Folk, University of British Columbia in Vancouver Canada and Prof. Frederic Pierre, Université Paris-Saclay, Saclay, France.

In a typical metal, electrons move largely independently of each other. But when they interact in a more complex material at a quantum level, technologically interesting effects occur, such as ferromagnetism or superconductivity.

For example, Majorana fermions, a type of particle if they can be harnessed, would be ideal as qubits, or individual computational units for quantum computers. The main obstacle is to unequivocally measure distinguish between Majorana fermions and other particles.

Microsoft, for example, has invested heavily to find complex materials that give rise to Majorana fermions.

A unique character of these Majorana fermions is their entropy, the measure of a system’s thermal energy per unit temperature that is unavailable for doing useful work. The measurement of this quantity could indisputably resolve the question of whether the system supports a Majorana fermion. The challenge is to measure entropy in bulk systems, which hasn’t even been measured in miniaturized electronic systems, where the Majorana fermions emerge. The new approach should establish which of the platforms actually support these exotic particles.

The new development will also empower researchers worldwide to gain new insights into major outstanding questions in the field of complex materials, such as those related to superconductivity in twisted graphene layers, just recently discovered.

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About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion’s vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University’s expertise locally and around the globe. Activities include showcasing BGU’s academic excellence and cutting-edge research through educational programs, events and informative communications. AABGU’s main purpose is to support Ben-Gurion’s vision and the university that bears his name by creating a community of Americans committed to improving the world tomorrow from the heart of the Israeli desert today. For more information visit http://www.aabgu.org.

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