Student Spotlight

Quantum Photonics Group: Jacob Charles Mower


Hometown, Country:
Altamont, NY

Academic history prior to coming to MIT:
Undergrad: Stevens Institute of Technology (Physics)
Masters of Engineering: Columbia University (Electrical Engineering)

What brought you to MIT?
RLE has a deep bench in Quantum Information science that includes leading theorists and experimentalists. Collaborations also extend to other MIT departments and to Lincoln Lab as well. These close collaborations with other research groups have allowed us to partner and boldly explore new areas of research.

What problem are you trying to solve with your current research and what are some possible applications?
Many quantum computers are made to be disposable; they’re constructed to perform a specific task – and some perform that task extremely well – but they cannot be repurposed to tackle new problems. We’re working on machines that can be kept around and easily reprogrammed in the lab to solve a large class of problems. These could be problems that are very difficult for a classical computer to solve including the cracking of current internet cryptography protocols, database search and also the design of more advanced quantum computers.

What interests you most about your research?
We’re at a point where exploratory quantum communication links are being set up in cities in North America, Asia and especially Europe; quantum computers are now being made on the same chips as the microprocessors found in computers. Practical technologies that rely on the unique, non-intuitive, bizarre features of quantum mechanics are beginning to exist, and these will positively impact the lives of people outside RLE and outside the field of quantum physics, possibly for the first time.
I’m thrilled to be at RLE at a time when we have experts in these diverse fields of research and the pieces are being put together to build disruptive communication and computation technologies.

What are your future plans?
I took a break from playing percussion during my first few years of graduate school; I am excited to bring back this part of my life. I intend my graduation present to myself to be an electronic drumset; I look forward to playing the drums in my small apartment (with headphones), and developing my own synthesizer patches.
After that is in order, I’m interested in taking advantage of the research that I and other members of Dirk’s group have been pursuing. We have worked on protocols to pack a huge amount of provably secure information into light and designed reconfigurable quantum computers on silicon chips. I truly believe that these and other technologies will make a huge impact on the world in the next five years, and I am interested in helping bring them to market.

Learn about Prof. Dirk Englund’s Quantum Photonics Group