A Lightning Win For Layered Materials

Postdoc Chiara Trovatello wins Best Lightning Talk Award at Department of Energy all-center meeting.

Ellen Neff
October 02, 2023

Last month, the US Department of Energy convened principal investigators and members of its 53 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRC), 15 Computational Chemical Sciences (CCS) centers, 8 Computational Materials Sciences (CMS) centers (CMS), and 4 Hubs for four days of sharing the latest science to come out of the centers. 

The meeting included a lightning talk workshop, in which 68 participants had just 100 seconds to summarize their recent research. In the microelectronics and quantum information research theme, Columbia postdoc Chiara Trovatello, a member of Columbia’s EFRC on Programmable Quantum Materials (Pro-QM), was given a Best Lightning Talk Award for her quick recap of how layered semiconductors are changing the game in quantum information.

“In our research we are using very thin layered semiconductors, like transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), which have a 10–100 times larger nonlinearity than standard nonlinear crystals,” explained Trovatello. “Within the Pro-QM, we are engineering the TMD structure at the nanoscale to achieve similar efficiencies of the standard bulk crystals, but over micrometer thicknesses: a thousand times thinner than standard nonlinear crystals!” Such ultra-compact nonlinear devices will enable next-generation integrated quantum photonics, impacting the future of secure quantum information.

“This competition included presenters from every DOE center, so Chiara’s achievement is a major success,” noted Dmitri Basov, Columbia physicist and Pro-QM Director. 

The Pro-QM was established in 2018 with DOE funding with the goal of advancing new materials, tools, and physics that will enable the on-demand creation and control of quantum phases. It was renewed for an additional four years in 2022.