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Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering News

Why Study Materials Science? Spooky Action at a Distance!

Materials science provides solutions to drive modern technology. For example, Paul Simmonds, an assistant professor in the Micron School of Materials, is researching alternatives to standard silicon. Simmonds is looking to use his research in semiconductors and sub-atomic processes to contribute to the technology industry’s drive toward faster, smarter computers.

Image of Paul Simmonds

The Concept

Moore’s law, an observation made in 1965 by Gordon E. Moore that the overall processing speed of computers will double every two years, has governed research and development in the tech industry for years. But the physical limitations of standard silicon technology can’t support that kind of exponential growth forever. That means the industry is scrambling to find new ways to improve computer function.

Dr. Simmonds’ work is being funded by a five-year, $510,000 CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation. The award is the NSF’s most prestigious program supporting junior faculty who effectively integrate outstanding research and education within the context of their organization’s mission. It is intended to give promising researchers an early career boost by providing stable research funding over an extended period of time.

The Research

Image of the NSF logoTitled “Novel Nanomaterials for Scalable Entangled Photon Emitters,” Paul Simmonds’ project relies on an odd property known as quantum entanglement, or what Albert Einstein referred to as “spooky action at a distance.” Entanglement refers to an extremely strong connection between two quantum particles. According to quantum mechanics, entangled photons are “linked” together, such that a change to one of the two photons instantaneously affects the other.

“Even if they are a light year apart – which means it should take at least a year for information to travel between them – they communicate immediately,” said Simmonds. “But although we can create entangled photons, the precise nature of the link between them is not fully understood.” Read more about the “Novel Nanomaterials for Scalable Entangled Photon Emitters” project or find out more about the man behind it by viewing Dr. Paul Simmonds’ profile.