New faculty member aims to create quantum simulations of early universe physics

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Practical theorist Christine Muschik joins IQC  

Christine Muschik joins the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo.

Christine MuschikMuschik’s research specializes in quantum networks and quantum simulations. This includes exploration of the quantum simulation of ‘gauge’ theories, which describe the interactions of fundamental particles like quarks and gluons. She hopes to turn this theory into technology by developing practical simulation concepts that might soon be realized in the lab, shedding light into the area of high-energy physics.

In a recent collaboration, Muschik demonstrated the first proof-of-concept of a quantum simulation in which energy is converted into matter. Muschik aims to scale this technique at IQC by designing a new type of quantum simulator – one that’s able to model the interactions of particles on a level far too complex to be done on a classical computer.

“The ultimate long-term vision is to tackle problems that cannot be addressed with numerical methods,” she said, "such as open questions relating to heavy ion collisions in particle accelerators, the physics of the early universe, or the interior of neutron stars.”

Muschik’s Quantum Networks and Quantum Simulations group at IQC also develops new protocols for building and maintaining quantum communications networks. By using novel dissipative techniques in quantum error-correction, she plans to design a robust and sustainable quantum network that could have applications for quantum communications, cloud computing, sensing and even play a role in fundamental test of nature.

Her latest publication Dissipative quantum error correction and application to quantum sensing with trapped ions, appearing today in Nature Communications, demonstrates this type of dissipative approach for self-correcting quantum devices which can be used to improve high-precision measurements.

“The first quantum revolution taught us the working principles of the quantum world,” Muschik said. “Now we are in the midst of a second quantum revolution, in which we learn how to exploit these new rules to build quantum computing devices that are more powerful than their classical counterparts.”

Christine studied physics at the Ludwig-Maximillians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics under the supervision of J. Ignacio Cirac. Her theoretical research in quantum optics earned her the Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellowship with Maciej Lewenstein at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) in Castelldefels, Barcelona. She then continued her postdoctoral research with Peter Zoller at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) in Innsbruck, Austria, and most recently was a university assistant at the University of Innsbruck’s Institute of Theoretical Physics.

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