Abram L. Falk  Abram L. Falk photo         

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Quantum photonics
T. J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY USA
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Professional Associations:  American Physical Society (APS)  |  Materials Research Society (MRS)

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I am a research staff member at IBM’s T. J. Watson Research center in Yorktown Heights, NY, where I am studying quantum photonics and quantum computing.

After growing up in Portland, OR, I went Swarthmore College for my B.A. in Physics (2003). I then went to Harvard University for my Ph.D. in Physics (2009), where I was advised by Hongkun Park, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship, advised by David Awschalom at the University of Chicago and at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I was awarded the Elings Prize in Experimental Science.

As a Ph.D. student, I studied the physics of chemically grown nanowires, including the dynamics of geometrically confined phase changes and the application of nanowires to optoelectronically integrated quantum circuits. In particular, I discovered a quantum-transduction process relying on near-field energy transfer that allows for the direct electrical detection of nanoscale optical excitations known as plasmons. My interest in solid-state quantum optics then led me to study artificial atoms based on crystal defects. After developing a method for addressing individual electronic spin states in silicon carbide, my colleagues and I were able to optically pump room-temperature nuclear polarization in SiC, a first for a material that plays a leading role in the semiconductor industry.

At IBM, I turned to the question of how to confine photons to the nanometer scale. My research on carbon-nanotube plasmonics showed that carbon nanotubes can act as deep subwavelength optical cavities and electrostatically tunable hyperbolic metamaterials. While exploring these phenomena, we were able to synthesize extremely dense films of aligned nanotubes – so dense that the nanotubes form hexagonally packed two-dimensional crystals. We found that these films exhibit fascinating new effects, such as intrinsically ultrastrong plasmon-exciton interactions, in which a single material plays a dual role as an optical nanocavity and an optical emitter.

My main focus now is on nonlinear quantum photonics. Nonlinear optics normally requires high optical powers, but we are trying to engineer devices that can cause single photons to interact with each other. Our strategy is to confine light to ultra-high quality-factor optical resonators comprising electro-optic materials like silicon germanium. These types of devices provide an interface between superconducting quantum computers and infrared telecom light, which can transmit data over long distances. In the long run, they could be a foundation for quantum networks of quantum computers.




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