June 29, 2020
What do you like about your job?
I love the wide range of activities I get to work on. I collaborate with a lot of people around the Lab, and it feels like I’m constantly learning about new techniques and developing new skills. I’m involved in many different aspects like postdoc mentoring, private partnerships, proposal writing, and of course research.
I enjoy working with the Lab’s devices. We cool our circuits down to temperatures that are 100 times colder than space, and then we probe them with tiny microwave fields to try to access their quantum mechanical properties.
What do your day-to-day work activities include?
Every day seems to be different. I can spend one day programming, another day wiring up a dilution refrigerator, and the next day writing up a patent.
What is your educational or career background?
I’ve always wanted to be a physicist. I studied physics at Foothill College, and finished my undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley. I then went to UC San Diego and studied condensed matter physics with Professor Ivan Schuller. There I studied the interactions of nanomagnets with superconductors and had my first exposure to quantized phenomena. I then took a postdoc position at the Laboratory for Physical Sciences at the University of Maryland, where I studied the strange properties of materials when in quantum mechanical environments.
Once I finished my postdoc, I learned that LLNL was starting up a new quantum computing program, and the notion of starting in a lab at the ground floor was too tempting to pass up.
What is one project you’re really proud to have worked on?
A few years ago, I came up with the idea of using a phononic bandgap to block the energy loss in quantum circuits due to the environment. I received a feasibility study, and after running multiple simulations and performing some fabrication runs, we determined that it’s a viable research direction. We now have a patent and are collaborating with UC Los Angeles to develop this new technology.
What inspired you to go into science/your field of work?
I’ve always enjoyed technical challenges and figuring things out. Physics is especially fun because there is always a puzzle you have to solve. Quantum physics is a particularly challenging area—materials in quantum computing environments behave in strange and unintuitive ways. Unlocking their secrets requires working at cryogenic temperatures and at radio frequencies and using statistical tools that can extract information from collective effects.
What advice would you give to a new employee at the Lab?
Talk with people and make new friends. You never know when you might find a project that overlaps with your expertise and you can start a collaboration.
What do you do in your free time?
Gaming and taking care of my 2-year-old son. I’m a member of the tabletop games networking group at LLNL.
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