Stefano Bonetti. Foto: Markus Marcetic © Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse Kungl. Vetenskapsakademien
Stefano Bonetti. Foto: Markus Marcetic © Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse Kungl. Vetenskapsakademien

The increasing speed of our computers is largely due to researchers who in the past have succeeded in reducing the size of the components on the circuit board which make up the actual computer. However, a limit has now been reached, where the laws of physics prevent proper operation of these components upon further miniaturization. If computing power is to continue to increase, researchers must instead explore a different direction and develop a technology that builds upon the quantum physical laws that rule the nanoworld, in which dimensions are ten-thousand times thinner than a strand of hair and objects can move billions of times faster than the fastest camera shutter.

Stefano Bonetti from Stockholm University aims at understanding and controlling the so-called emergent properties of quantum materials. These are unpredictable properties that arise only when atoms and electrons in large number interact, and which could allow for more complex calculations in quantum computers.

“It is very fascinating that we now can, thanks to the enormous progress of experimental capabilities, directly look at the microscopic and ultrafast scales. The hope is that we will be able to understand even better these laws, and in turn how nature works.”

In his exploration of quantum matter’s terra incognita, he is using novel types of electromagnetic radiation, terahertz and x-ray lasers that can control and look at the microscopic world at the ultrafast time scales.

“Quantum materials’ unusual properties, if they can be demonstrated and controlled at room temperature, could replace silicon as main material in our technology. It would realize one of the main goals of the entire research within condensed matter physics: a technology that is both more powerful and more sustainable than the current one.”

The project will increase the understanding of the quantum world and has the potential to lay down the building blocks for tomorrow’s information and communication technology.

“Experimental research of this type requires large resources to be accomplished and to be of international relevance. This grant will allow my research group to implement unique experimental techniques at Stockholm University, which in turn will lead to state-of-the art research in the field.”