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Durham University

Durham University News

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Award for research that could revolutionise computing

(3 December 2020)

Professor Charles Adams

Prof Charles Adams has won The Holweck Prize for his work on light and atoms that could provide the ideal building blocks for quantum computers

As the world becomes ever more dependent on imaging, computers and communication, research by our physicists could help revolutionise how these technologies work.

Professor Charles Adams and colleagues’ work on light and atoms could provide the ideal building blocks for quantum computers and improved medical scanners.

Charles’ research has been recognised by the Institute of Physics-Société Française de Physique who have jointly awarded him The Holweck Prize 2020.

Light particles

He and his team use laser beams to cool and excite atoms in a vacuum with the result that they expand in size.

This creates a situation where light particles – or photons – normally non-interacting can collide and interact strongly with each other.

It’s this interaction that could eventually lead to electronics in computers being replaced by photonics – where data is transferred by light particles connecting with each other.

This could eventually make our computers faster, more efficient, and more connected, enabling us to tackle problems that are inaccessible using current devices.

Alternatively, the technology could be used to improve communication between quantum computers based on any technology forming the basis of a quantum internet.

Electromagnetic sensors

Other applications might include better electromagnetic sensors that could be used to assess the condition of buildings or structures and to detect illnesses in medicine or water shortages in crops.

Find out more

  • The Holweck Prize recognises exceptional work in any aspect of physics that is ongoing or has been carried out in the past ten years.

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