Exploring the Quantum: Michel Devoret is the Beinecke Professor of Applied Physics and Physics at Yale University, and holds a Chair in the College de France. Steven Girvin is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Yale University, where he also serves as Deputy Provost for Science and Technology. Robert Schoelkopf is the Norton Professor of Applied Physics and Physics at Yale University. Much honored on both sides of the Atlantic, Devoret, Girvin and Schoelkopf now collaborate to bring the mysteries of quantum mechanics under control, with the goal of building a quantum computer."
Michel graduated from Ecole Nationale Superieure des Telecommunications in Paris in 1975 and started graduate work in molecular quantum physics at the University of Orsay. He then joined Professor Anatole Abragam's laboratory in CEA-Saclay to work on NMR in solid hydrogen, and received his PhD from Paris University in 1982. He spent two post-doctoral years working on macroscopic quantum tunneling with John Clarke's laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. He pursued this research on quantum mechanical electronics upon his return to Saclay, starting his own research group with Daniel Esteve and Cristian Urbina. The main achievements of the "quantronics group" were the measurement of the traversal time of tunneling, the invention of the single electron pump (now the basis of a new standard of capacitance), the first observation of the charge of Cooper pairs and the first measurement of the effect of atomic valence on the conductance of a single atom. He became director of research at the Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique (CEA) at Saclay. Michel has received the Ampere Prize of the Fench Academy of Science (together with Daniel Esteve, 1991), the Descartes-Huygens Prize of the Royal Academy of Science of the Netherlands (1996) and the Europhysics-Agilent Prize of the European Physical Society (together with Daniel Esteve, Hans Mooij and Yasunobu Nakamura, 2004). He has been appointed to the College de France, where he teaches yearly, in 2007. Michel is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2003) and a member of the French Academy of Sciences (2008).
Currently a faculty member at Yale University and College de France, he focuses his research on experimental solid state physics with emphasis on quantum mechanical electronics or "quantronics". In this new type of electronics, electrical collective degrees of freedom like currents and voltages behave quantum mechanically. Such mesoscopic phenomena are particularly important in the realization of quantum information processing superconducting devices, which is his main research goal. The lab is also investigating whether superconductivity exists at the single molecule level.
Steven Girvin is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Yale University, where he also serves as Deputy Provost for Science and Technology. He has made profound theoretical contributions to our understanding of the quantum behavior of electrons in solids.
Dr. Robert Schoelkopf
Dr. Robert Schoelkopf is a William A. Norton Professor of Applied Physics and Physics at Yale University. He received his A.B. in physics from Princeton University in 1986, and then spent two years as an electrical/cryogenic engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, developing low-temperature radiation detectors and cryogenic instrumentation for future space missions. He completed his education at the California Institute of Technology, receiving his Ph.D. in physics in 1995. Since then, he has been at Yale University, first as a postdoctoral associate and lecturer, then joining the faculty as an assistant professor in 1998. His present research interests center around the physics of nanostructures and single-electron devices, as well as their application to problems in metrology, ultrasensitive detectors, and quantum computation.
Yale physicist Steve Girvin speculates on the ultimate goals of quantum computing. While he admits that there aren't many direct applications today, he compares it to the development of the laser, which wasn't developed to meet any particular need--but is now used in everything from music to hair removal.