Alexander von Humboldt Professorship 2023

Dirk Englund

Whether in medicine or communications technology – quantum mechanics has long since entered many areas of our lives. At FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light (MPL), physicist Dirk Englund is invited to bridge the gap between basic and applied research in the field of quantum information technology.

  • Nominating institutions: FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light (MPL)
Portrait of Dirk Englund
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Quantum optics

The world of information technology is facing revolutionary developments: new deep learning methods are defining machine learning in research and industry. In quantum informatics, special processors perform tasks in areas where classic computers fail. Our standard computers process information using bits represented by either zeros or ones. Quantum computers work with quantum bits, or qubits for short, that can simultaneously assume the state "zero", "one", or any state in between. Basically, this property of the qubits makes the quantum computer more efficient and enables it to carry out several calculations at the same time.

Englund is a pioneer in the field of complex photonic systems and their use in machine learning and quantum technologies. His work ranges from theoretical studies via the development of computer architectures to the advanced manufacture of devices at system level. His development of large-scale integrated photonic circuits for processing information is groundbreaking. Amongst other things, his research results flow into data processing, sensor technology, communications and, most recently, artificial intelligence applications. Dirk Englund also shares his expertise with industry: he is co-founder of the quantum computing company "QuEra Computing", the security firm “Dust Identity”, and scientific advisor to the company "LightMatter", which focuses on revolutionising high-performance computing in machine learning methods.

FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg plans to establish a new Research Center for Applied Quantum Technologies (CAQT) that will bring together physics and electrical engineering. As a Humboldt Professor, Dirk Englund will take the lead as a link between CAQT and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light. Erlangen's existing position at the vanguard of optical sciences, materials science and computer science is set to be reinforced by the appointment.

Brief bio

Dirk Englund is an associate professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States. After studying physics and electrical engineering in the United States and the Netherlands, he took his doctorate at Stanford University, United States. He also held a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University before becoming an assistant professor of electrical engineering and applied physics at Columbia University, both United States. Recognition for his work includes the ACS Photonics Young Investigator Award 2017, the Optical Society’s Adolph Lomb Medal 2017, a Bose Research Fellowship 2018 and a Humboldt Research Fellowship 2020.