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Eureka Prize for Associate Professor Michael J. Biercuk

27 August 2015
Associate Professor Michael J. Biercuk has won the 2015 Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher

Associate Professor Biercuk was recognised with the prestigious prize for contributions at the leading edge of quantum science research.

Michael Biercuk with his Eureka Prize

Associate Professor Michael J. Biercuk, from the School of Physics and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems, has won the Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher, presented at a gala dinner on 26 August in the Sydney Town Hall.

Presented annually by the Australian Museum, the prestigious Eureka Prizes reward excellence in the fields of scientific research and innovation, science leadership, school science and science journalism and communication.

The Eureka Prizes are known as 'the Oscars of Australian Science' and the awards dinner is the largest national celebration of Australian science.

Associate Professor Biercuk received his Eureka Prize trophy and $10,000 prize money at the Sydney Town Hall in front of a sold-out audience of distinguished scientists, industry leaders, journalists, policy makers, philanthropists, school students and science enthusiasts.

“I'm pleased to accept this recognition on behalf of my very talented and dedicated group,” said Associate Professor Biercuk.

“I'd like to thank the individuals and organisations that support our work, and acknowledge my quantum science colleagues at the University of Sydney, in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems, and across Australia and the globe. 

“Quantum science is an extremely dynamic field and a real strength in Australian research. I'm grateful to my colleagues for helping make it that way.”

Technologies that function because of quantum mechanics drive our daily lives – from smartphones to Global Positioning. But these technologies only scratch the surface of what is possible if we capture the full breadth of quantum mechanical phenomena.

Associate Professor Biercuk is internationally recognised for the outstanding contributions his group has made to a new field seeking to harness these effects as resources powering a new generation of quantum technologies.

He added a new experimental capability to Australia’s research strength in quantum science when he established the Quantum Control Laboratory in 2010 – quantum control with trapped ions – expertise he developed working with 2012 Nobel Laureate David Wineland.  Since then, Associate Professor Biercuk and his team have built a record of transformative discoveries helping to bring quantum technology closer to reality. His major breakthroughs include:

  • Quantum control: Developed new techniques to reduce information loss from quantum information systems.
  • Quantum simulation: Built a simulated quantum computer of 300 atoms, each storing one ‘quantum bit’ (qubit) of information, and smashing the 30–40 qubit threshold at which quantum simulators exceed the capabilities of current supercomputers.
  • Quantum metrology: Set the record for the most sensitive measurement of force ever performed at the level of yoctonewtons.

“Quantum computing is a field with enormous promise for Australia, and Associate Professor Biercuk’s research is capturing benefits right now. As an early-career researcher, Michael’s future is bright and indicates great opportunities for Australian science,” said Kim McKay AO, Executive Director and CEO of the Australian Museum.

Associate Professor Michael J. Biercuk talks about quantum mechanics

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