Two huge prizes for quantum computing professors


UNSW's Michelle Simmons has been honoured with a L’Oréal-UNESCO Award and Andrea Morello received an award from the world's leading body of physicists.

For her pioneering research in quantum physics, UNSW Scientia Professor Michelle Simmons has been honoured with a €100,000 international L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award.

Professor Simmons, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology, CQC2T, is one of five eminent female researchers from around the world named as 2017 L’Oréal-UNESCO laureates in the Physical Sciences.

She is the winner of the Asia-Pacific region, “for her pioneering contributions to quantum and atomic electronics, constructing atomic transistors en route to quantum computers”.

Leading Australian engineer and physicist Professor Andrea Morello was yesterday named inaugural recipient of the Rolf Landauer and Charles H. Bennett Award in Quantum Computing by the prestigious American Physical Society, the world's leading organisation of physicists.

Morello, a professor in UNSW’s School of Electrical Engineering & Telecommunications and head of the Quantum Spin Control group at CQC2T, was awarded the prize “for remarkable achievements in the experimental development of spin qubits in silicon”.

Morello specialises in developing single-atom quantum devices in silicon, the building blocks of a universal quantum computer. His group was the first in the world to demonstrate the read-out and the control of the quantum state of a single electron and a single nuclear spin in silicon.

As director of CQC2T, Simmons heads a team of more than 180 researchers across six Australian universities, including UNSW. Centre scientists and engineers are leading the international race to build the world’s first quantum computer in silicon, and hope to produce a 10-qubit circuit within five years.

“Trying to control nature at its very smallest scale is such an exciting and rewarding field to be in,” says Professor Simmons, of the UNSW School of Physics.

“This has been my passion for many years and has such tremendous potential. I am honoured by this recognition and hope it inspires others.”

Earlier this year Simmons was awarded a prestigious international Foresight Institute Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology. In 2014, she had the rare distinction for an Australian researcher of becoming an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is also Editor-in-Chief of the first Nature Partner Journal based in Australia, npj Quantum Information.

For his award, Morello was also elected to the distinguished group of American Physical Society Fellows by the APS Council of Representatives.

The federal government has contributed $25 million over five years towards a consortium to develop and commercialise this ground-breaking quantum computing research through its National Innovation and Science Agenda. The grant complements $25 million from UNSW and $10 million each from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Telstra.

In September 2016, the Australian Research Council also extended funding to CQC2T as a Centre of Excellence for the next seven years, with a grant of $34 million from the federal government and $103 million in cash and in-kind support from participating organisations.

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