Physicist Dr Michael Biercuk invited to Founders 50

24 June 2013

A University of Sydney academic has attended one of the world's most exclusive technology conferences.

Dr Michael Biercuk, from the University's School of Physics, just took part in the three-day Founders 50 conference which ended on Sunday.

The event, inaugurated only last year, is run by the Founders Fund, a venture capital firm based in San Francisco.

Created by Peter Thiel and Ken Howery, founders of PayPal, the fund invests in cutting-edge technology and products including artificial intelligence, analytics and aerospace.

Founded in 2005, its investments include Facebook, Napster, Palantir Technologies, Spotify, Yammer, Pathway Genomics and Votizen.

Attendance at the Founders 50 event is by invitation only and is targeted at 50 of the world's most outstanding and promising entrepreneurs and technologists. Dr Biercuk was the only Australian to attend.

The Fund says the event is a rare chance for people "working on the truly difficult problems of our time to pause and think about the world more broadly with their peers."

Founders 50 attendees fly from San Francisco, in a private jet, to a resort in a Wyoming for the get together. The event took place from 21 to 23 June.

"I'm very honoured to have been selected and thrilled for the opportunity to be among some of technology's most creative minds. The participants are extremely diverse and all dedicated to advancing the future of technology. It's exciting that a venture capital fund can be so forward looking, rather than focusing only on mobile applications," said Dr Biercuk.

An experimental physicist, Dr Biercuk runs the Quantum Control Laboratory at the University where his research group performs groundbreaking experiments for the development of new quantum-enabled technologies.

A research team led by Dr Biercuk, in collaboration with Dartmouth College in the US published an article in Nature Communications last week detailing their breakthrough in designing a practically useful quantum memory, a key need for future quantum computers.

In 2012 Dr Biercuk was part of an international team that developed an ion-crystal "quantum simulator" predicted to become one of the world's most powerful computers, according to results announced in Nature.

Quantum computers could be used in developing new materials for clean-energy distribution or in rapidly searching through massive amounts of unsorted data to identify security threats online, problems which defeat today's most powerful supercomputers.

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