Materials theorist Yuan Ping wins NSF CAREER Award

Yuan Ping

Yuan Ping, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UC Santa Cruz, has received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support her work developing computational platforms to investigate the physics of new materials for quantum computers and other applications of quantum information science.

In quantum computers, information is encoded in quantum bits, or qubits, which can be made from any quantum system that has two states. One promising approach is based on the spin states of electrons. Ping’s group has developed a theoretical framework and computational tools for predicting spin dynamics in solid-state materials, which they will use to study the properties of spin qubits.

Critical properties of spin qubits include quantum coherence, which determines how long the spin state will last (or how long the encoded information will be intact); readout efficiency, which determines the fidelity with which information can be extracted from a qubit; and quantum transduction, which determines if quantum information can be transferred and communicated among qubits over a long range.

“Understanding kinetics of excited states and spin qubit relaxation and decoherence is the core issue of spin-based quantum information science,” Ping said. “In this project, we will develop a computational platform to tackle these issues for spin qubits.”

All of these properties are materials-specific, and previous efforts have relied mostly on simplified models which require inputs from prior experiments. Ping’s first-principles approach will eliminate the need for prior input parameters and will open the path for designing novel quantum materials with the potential to enable unprecedented performance for applications in quantum information science.

“Stable, scalable, and reliable quantum information science has the potential to transform and advance knowledge across a large number of critical fields through next-generation technologies for sensing, computing, modeling, and communicating,” Ping said.

The funding for this project also includes support for a range of education and outreach activities. These include strengthening undergraduate education in physical chemistry through a summer bootcamp; developing computational materials research through new courses and undergraduate research programs; and supporting women and underrepresented groups through UCSC’s Women in Science and Engineering program.