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Center for Molecular Quantum Transduction Awarded $12.4 Million as DOE EFRC

New Northwestern Research Center to Drive Innovation in Transformative Technology

Julianne Beck | July 2, 2020
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The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Basic Energy Sciences selected a new Northwestern University research initiative, the Center for Molecular Quantum Transduction (CMQT), to receive $12.4 million in funding as an Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC). The funding will support a four-year enterprise that begins on August 1, 2020. CMQT is directed by Michael R. Wasielewski, Clare Hamilton Hall Professor of Chemistry; Executive Director, Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN), and a member of the executive committee for Northwestern’s Initiative for Quantum Information Research and Engineering (INQUIRE).

“Our research is focused on quantum-to-quantum transduction, the conversion of quantum signals from one form of energy to another, which is an essential element of quantum information science (QIS),” explained Wasielewski. “The anticipated discoveries will create foundational knowledge within the sphere of basic energy sciences, which will support the development of new approaches to QIS having a major positive impact on both the US and global economy.”

Advancing knowledge in QIS is broadly recognized as an urgent, multidisciplinary challenge. Quantum science innovation offers an opportunity to greatly improve information processing and communications on a transformative, global scale, as well as provide new sensors having unprecedented sensitivity and selectivity.

CMQT is one of six new centers funded through the 2020 awards, in which 10 centers received funding. In all, EFRC programs address pressing scientific challenges through multi-disciplinary research teams to advance energy technologies. The new funding allows Northwestern to continue to provide cutting edge research in quantum science on a global scale. Northwestern is also active with quantum research networks as a member of the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE).

The three research thrusts of CMQT each approach quantum transduction from a unique lens, all at the precise atomic scale. The methods employed to achieve transduction span hard and soft materials synthesis and characterization; interfacial science; molecular and electronic structural characterization over a broad range of length, energy, and temporal scales; time-resolved spectroscopy; electronic structure theory and computational modeling of molecular and materials properties.

“Our interdisciplinary CMQT team is both excited and energized by this vital support from the Department of Energy. We are eager to bring the individual expertise and collective breadth of our researchers to create knowledge in this emerging area,” said Wasielewski. The center deputy director is Associate Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern Danna Freedman, who is also a member of the executive committee of INQUIRE. Additional principal investigators from Northwestern include: Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Mark Hersam, who is also an INQUIRE executive committee member; Research Assistant Professor of Chemistry Matthew Krzyaniak, Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry George Schatz, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Nathaniel Stern, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Roel Tempelaar, and Mark and Nancy Ratner Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Photo-Sciences Research Center Emily Weiss. A total of 17 PI’s from eight academic institutions will conduct CMQT research.