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New Humboldt Fellow at LMU

Munich, 01/18/2010

LMU Munich is pleased to host its latest Humboldt Fellow, who has chosen the university as the venue for his research. Dr. Eric A. Hoffmann will spend several months here as a Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The fellowships provided by the Humboldt Foundation enable highly qualified post-doctoral researchers from abroad to carry out a project in a laboratory in Germany. The Fellows themselves choose both topic and host institution. The number of Humboldt Fellows on campus is therefore an important indicator of the university’s international contacts and reputation.

Eric A. Hoffmann is an American, and studied physics at the University of Puget Sound from 2000 until 2004. He completed his doctoral thesis with Professor Heiner Linke at the University of Oregon in Eugene in the fall of 2009. In January 2010, he joined Professor Jörg P. Kotthaus’ group at the LMU’s Department of Solid State Physics to begin work on a research project entitled “Manipulation of Electron Spins in Semiconductor Quantum-Dot Systems”, in close cooperation with PD Dr. Stefan Ludwig.

The continuous increase in the processing capabilities of our computers, which rely on the movement of electron charge, is largely a function of advances in the miniaturization of their basic components. With component sizes now in the nanometer range, it is clear that this strategy is rapidly approaching its limits. In addition, as components get smaller, the more significant quantum mechanical effects become. It therefore makes sense to exploit the peculiarities of quantum mechanics for the purposes of information processing. This is the goal of the burgeoning field of quantum computing.

Theoretical considerations suggest that particular classes of problems could be solved much more rapidly on a quantum computer than on our familiar classical machines. One approach to the realization of a working quantum computer appears particularly promising. This involves the use of the magnetic moments (spins) of single electrons to represent the bits. The greatest challenge to be overcome is the achievement of coherent control of interactions between individual spins. Eric A. Hoffmann will take up this challenge during his stay at LMU. Building upon the expertise available at the Institute led by Prof. Kotthaus, he plans to construct nanodevices that permit coherent control of interacting electron spins, and will analyse the quantum dynamics of such systems in detail. The basic goal of the project is bring the quantum computer a step closer to reality.

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