Cosmos – Andrea Morello is not what you expect when you think of quantum computing. Tall, lizard-thin and sporting a luxuriant ponytail and greying goat-patch beneath his lower lip, in skin-tight pants and a pendant, he has an intense gaze that could almost hold you in a trance.
“There were no silicon qubits before we started working on this,” says Morello, winner of the American Physical Society’s inaugural Rolf Landauer and Charles H. Bennett Award in quantum computing in 2017 for work some deemed almost impossible. “We’ve really contributed to making it work, and it’s now created a field. And we’re in the lead.”
In this, Morello is part of a two-man act. His friend and one-time mentor, Andrew Dzurak, who has been working on silicon quantum computing concepts since 1998, lured the young Italian postdoctoral fellow from the University of British Columbia in Canada – where he’d been working at TRIUMF, the venerable national physics laboratory. Morello joined Dzurak in 2006 as a senior research associate at what eventually became UNSW’s Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T).
The challenge? To build on UNSW’s promising work on solid-state quantum devices, utilising the fuzzy superpositioned data that is a feature of quantum computers – known as quantum bits, or ‘qubits’– and develop techniques for quantum control of single atoms in silicon.
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