Project Descriptions

1. Quantum sensing with Nitrogen-Vacancy centers in diamond

Supervisor: Prof. Victor Acosta (Physics & Astronomy), Lab Webpage.

 Acosta Lab

Research Overview. Acosta's group does research at the intersection of condensed-matter physics, quantum optics, and biomedical imaging. The group specializes in using color centers in diamond as quantum sensors to study nanoscale magnetic phenomena in physical, chemical, and biological systems. Their model qubit system is the Nitrogen Vacancy (NV) center in diamond which offers a unique combination of high-fidelity optical detection and long spin coherence times at room temperature. The group currently consists of 6 graduate students and two postdocs.

QU-REACH Project. One or two QU-REACH students will work on an ongoing quantum sensing project aimed at performing quantum control on single NV centers and using them to detect magnetic fields. These experiments present a number of impressive spectroscopy, imaging, and spin physics challenges, which make for an exciting learning opportunity for undergraduate students working within a broader team.

What the Students Will Do. The students will develop methods for performing quantum control on single NV centers (confocal microscopy, Rabi/Ramsey/Hahn-echo spectroscopy) and use these methods to sense the magnetic environment of single spins. Together with graduate students, they will optimize the performance of the diamond magnetic microscope and work towards detecting magnetic phenomena in superconductors, 2D magnetic materials, and magnetic nanoparticles. The students will gain experience in quantum sensing and spin physics theory, optical breadboarding, experimental control (LabVIEW), data analysis (Mathematica, MatLab, and/or Python), and communicating results (presentations at group meetings). The students will present their work at an external conference and may be involved as a co-author in a subsequent journal publication.

Supervision. The students will be supervised through weekly 1:1 meetings as well as daily interactions in the lab with Acosta. They will also work closely with graduate students working on the project.

Questions? Email: 


2. Quantum chemistry

Supervisor: Prof. Susan Atlas (Chemistry & Chemical Biology), Lab Webpage.


Research Overview. Prof. Atlas’ lab conducts research in theoretical and computational chemical physics, aimed at understanding complex systems through a combination of formal theory, novel algorithms, and multiscale modeling.   Ongoing research projects include the development of ensemble charge-transfer potentials for atomistic simulation; density functional theory (DFT) electronic structure calculations and machine learning methods for modeling high-entropy materials; kinetic modeling of proteins; and the application of DFT-based atom-in-molecule methods for encapsulating electron correlation effects in molecules.

QU-REACH Project. QU-REACH students will work on an ongoing project to implement density functional theory (DFT) electronic structure calculations on current-generation “noisy intermediate scale quantum” [NISQ] computers such as the IBM Quantum System One.  DFT bypasses the need to solve the Schrödinger equation for the complicated many-electron wavefunction Ψ, by re-expressing the electronic structure problem in terms of a much simpler set of coupled one-electron equations for the electron density ρ.  All of the underlying complexity of the quantum mechanical interactions between electrons is encoded within a “universal exchange-correlation functional”, Exc[ρ] entering the single-particle equations.  The goal of this project is to explore alternative models of Exc[ρ], and determine whether the DFT formulation of quantum mechanics can provide both improved accuracy and greater robustness to noise in computing the ground state energies of molecules on quantum computers.

What the Students Will Do. Students will perform reference electronic structure calculations using different families of exchange-correlation functionals and Schrödinger equation-based quantum chemistry methods on the Xena GPU supercomputing cluster at the UNM Center for Advanced Research Computing (CARC).   Corresponding computational experiments with the same functionals and quantum chemistry methods will be performed on quantum computers.  The calculations will utilize existing variational quantum eigensolver (VQE) routines written in the Python-based Qiskit and PySCF electronic structure codes.  The objective is to compare classical and quantum computer performance for NISQ systems with varying topologies and noise characteristics.

Supervision. The students will be supervised through frequent 1-1 and weekly group meetings with Prof. Atlas, and real-time interactions over the project Slack channel.

Questions? Email:


3. Optical resonances in nanostructures for quantum sensors and simulators

Supervisor: Prof. Viktoriia Babicheva (Electrical & Computer Engineering), Lab Webpage.


Research Overview. Prof. Babicheva's research interests cover both fundamental and applied aspects of optics and photonics. The research program focuses on resonant nanostructures to achieve efficient light control and dynamic tuning of nanophotonic elements. Recent projects include developing hybrid metal-semiconductor designs with layered transition metal dichalcogenides, graphene, and other van der Waals materials. The nanostructures are designed to be applied in visible, infrared, and terahertz ultra-compact devices for sensing and imaging. Previous QU-REACH students in the group have co-authored conference proceedings.

QU-REACH Project. The student will work on an ongoing project on developing material processes and realizing nanostructures for systems with quantum sensors and simulators. The quantum sensors will be designed to facilitate accurate measurements of physical quantities, including electromagnetic fields and oscillation frequencies. To open new possibilities for quantum sensing, two-dimensional materials will be combined with other materials to engineer multifunctional heterostructures.

What the Student Will Do. The project activities include designing, fabrication, and/or characterization of photonic nanostructures for quantum computing. Design and numerical analysis of nanostructures will be performed using simulations packages for full-wave modeling, such as CST Studio Suite and COMSOL Multiphysics. Nanostructure electron-beam lithography tools include AutoCAD and KLayout. Data analysis and visualization will be performed in MATLAB. Nanostructure fabrication and optimization will be performed in cleanroom facilities at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnology, Sandia National Labs. It includes material deposition, thermal annealing, light and electron-beam exposures, as well as chemical processing with solvents, bases, and acids. Nanostructures will be analyzed with ellipsometry and scanning electron microscopes.

Supervision.  Daily supervision will be provided by Prof. Babicheva and the graduate students working in the lab. The student will participate in weekly group meetings, during which the research progress of lab members is discussed. The student working at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies will be trained by CINT staff and Prof. Babicheva until they can use facilities and operate tools independently.

Questions? Email:


4. Quantum dot single photon sources at telecom wavelengths

Supervisor: Prof. Ganesh Balakrishnan (Electrical & Computer Engineering), Lab Webpage.


Research Overview. Balakrishnan’s research involves the epitaxial growth of III-V compound semiconductor materials and devices. This includes the development of InAs based quantum dots using molecular beam epitaxy. In particular, the group is currently working on low density quantum dots in the near IR that can be used as single dot emitters. This work also includes strategies to extend the emission wavelength of the dots to reach 1.3 and 1.55 µm on GaAs substrates.

QU-REACH Project. The project as mentioned above will target the growth of long wavelength InAs quantum dots. This will be done through the incorporation of antimony in the dots to realize InAsSb quantum dots. The project will involve the growth of such dots on state of the art MBE reactors and subsequent characterization using X-Ray diffraction, atomic force microscopy and photoluminescence studies.

What the Student Will Do. The student will gain experience in optics, vacuum science, cryogenics and material science. The student will be able to work with a highly experience epitaxial scientist to grow samples. These samples will then be characterized using photoluminescence and microscopy to establish quantum dot parameters such as photoluminescence, dots size and shape and antimony incorporation values.

Supervision. The student will work with a highly skilled team of epitaxial scientists including faculty, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students. There will be regular meetings for the group which the student will also attend.

Questions? Email:


5. Precision measurements of simulated gravitational waves using optical interferometry

Supervisor: Prof. Elohim Becerra (Physics & Astronomy), Lab Webpage.

Becerra lab

Research Overview. Becerra’s lab performs research in quantum information with atoms and photons, with a focus on the study of quantum properties of light and matter for optimal methods of measurement, information transfer and communications. Their interests include the study of measurements with sensitivities beyond conventional limits of detection, and the study of quantum-state superpositions from the interaction of light and matter for quantum information and communication protocols. They are interested in studying technologies that can be enabled by these quantum systems and understanding the limits of such quantum technologies. Applications of these studies include quantum and coherent communications, metrology, and quantum information processing.

QU-REACH Project. This project seeks to construct and test an interferometric setup to use interference as an optical approach to precise measurements for undergraduate laboratories. In this laboratory, students will use interference for precise measurements of distance and signals coming from variations of optical paths, which is the principle of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).

What the Student Will Do. The student(s) will build a Michelson interferometer to measure aberrations in optical flats and small displacements, and they will study the interference signal when predefined traveling waves that mimic signatures of gravitational waves from different sources drive a mechanical perturbation on the table.

Supervision. The student(s) will participate in weekly group meetings, during which progress of each group member is discussed. Daily supervision will be provided by the Prof. Becerra and graduate students in his lab.

Questions? Email:


6. Piezoelectric optical filters and quantum fabrication

Supervisor: Prof. Tito Busani (Electrical & Computer Engineering),


Research Overview. The quantum fabrication, metrology, and opto-mechanics lab at CHTM focuses its research on atomic precision lithography and metrology and heterogenous integration that incorporates multiple components, such as modulators frequency shifters, filters, delay lines, and photodetectors. Busani's group works on converting RF signals to photonics on chip, then to phononics for processing, back to photonics for additional routing, and then back to RF via photodetection. Thus, the group leverages the mainstay components of a Si photonic platform, while incorporating the advantages of using high frequency phonons, technology that, for example, is currently deployed for filtering in modern systems such as cell phones. Moreover, they provide a state of the art for a single atom lithography combined with UV lithography and spectroscopy.

QU-REACH Project. a QU-REACH student will work on research to integrate the existing UV Photoluminescence into an Atomic Microscope System.

What the Students Will Do. The QU-REACH student will work with one of Busani's PhD students on UV data acquisition and validation using both the UV Photoluminescence and Atomic Force Microscopes. Labview will be used to remotely control the acquisition system. It is also expected that the student will learn how to use basic optics simulation software and help the PhD student with waveguide fabrication in the cleanroom.

Supervision. The student will work closely with Dr. Busani's senior PhD students and will have a weekly meeting with the group and/or 1:1 Meeting with Dr. Busani. Moreover, the student will provide bi-weekly progress reports in the form of slide presentations.

Questions? Email:


7. Electron Transport and Optical Generation of Molecular Spin Qubits

Supervisor: Prof. Martin L. Kirk (Chemistry & Chemical Biology),  Lab Webpage.


Research Overview. The Kirk Group has research effort in molecular electronics and quantum information science (QIS). The group specializes in using Donor-Acceptor biradical constructs to study molecular electron transport and optical generation and manipulation of electron spin qubits related to future technologies at the nanoscale. They employ a combination of spectroscopy, synthesis, and computations in their work. The group currently consists of eight members, which include undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs, and a research associate professor.

QU-REACH Project. One or two QU-REACH students will study mono-radical to multi-radical systems to address specific questions related to molecular conductance and rectification, and also address excited state control of electronic and magnetic properties in new molecular multi-spin systems. These experiments employ a combined spectroscopic approach, augmented by computations. The combination of spectroscopy and theory lead to exciting learning opportunities for undergraduate students interested in working with a diverse community of researchers.

What the Student Will Do. The student(s) will use a combination of variable-temperature electronic absorption, resonance Raman, magnetic circular dichroism, time-resolved and steady state photoemission, and multifrequency electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopies to probe electronic coupling relationships with molecular conductance, and the nature of multi-spin interactions in electronic excited states that facilitate electron spin polarization in the ground state. Together with Kirk lab members, the students will analyze these data, perform spectroscopic and electronic structure computations, and develop models for observed behaviors. Students will gain valuable experience in spectroscopy, DFT (ORCA, Gaussian) and configuration interaction computations, data collection and analysis (Mathematica, MatLab, and/or Python), and communicating their results at weekly group meetings. In addition to the Program's end-of-summer poster presentation, the students may present their work at a research conference and/or be a co-author in journal publications on their work.

Supervision. The student(s) will be supervised and attend a combination of weekly 1:1, sub-group, and group meetings on the project, as well as interactions with groups at CHTM, NC State University, and Los Alamos National Laboratories. Students will also work closely with Kirk Group members on these projects.

Questions? Email:


8. Measuring Positions and Separations of Single Molecules at the Quantum Limit

Supervisor: Prof. Keith Lidke (Physics & Astronomy), Lab Webpage.


Research Overview. Measuring positions and separation distances are fundamental to many scientific disciplines such as astronomy and microscopy. Many mechanisms involved in the functioning of a biological cell are still poorly understood because they involve interactions at the nanometer scale - about two orders of magnitude below the diffraction limit of light microscopy. The Lidke ground develops new experimental and computational approaches for accessing this length scale. One method involves tagging cellular components with fluorescence molecules, which allows the concepts and approaches of quantum metrology for measuring positions and separations to be applied to biological systems at the subcellular level.

QU-REACH Project. A QU-REACH student will contribute to an ongoing imaging project that applies the quantum- optimal method of Super-Localization by Image inVERsion (SLIVER) to single molecule imaging. This project combines aspects of interferometry, phase stabilization, detection of light down to the single photon level, and both quantum and classical estimation theory.

What the Student Will Do. The student will learn basic concepts of (quantum) metrology including the (quantum) Cramer-Rao Bound, learn to use a microscope system designed for imaging single molecules, help align and characterize an interferometer and perform corresponding data analyses in MATLAB, Python, or Julia. The student will learn to use a standard fluorescence microscope and the technique of Single Molecule Localization Microscopy (SMLM). For a student interested in a more computationally-focussed project, there is opportunity to build a digital twin of the experimental system in order to study potential sources of noise and aberrations.

Supervision. The student will have daily interactions in the lab with Prof. Lidke, have dedicated weekly 1:1 meetings, and be included and participate in project meetings. They will also work closely with research staff and graduate students working on the project. 

Questions? Email:


9. Quantum algorithms in the presence of noise

Supervisor: Prof. Milad Marvian (Electrical & Computer Engineering), Group Webpage.


Research Overview. Marvian’s research focuses on the theoretical aspects of quantum computing, including quantum error correction, quantum algorithms, and Hamiltonian complexity. The current ongoing projects include the design and analysis of low-overhead error correction and fault-tolerant schemes; designing mathematical tools for quantum learning problems; and understanding the computational complexity of simulating quantum systems.

QU-REACH Project. The student will study the performance of small-size quantum codes under realistic noise models. This project is part of an ongoing effort in Marvian’s lab to study low-overhead error correction schemes.

What the Students Will Do. The student will gain basic knowledge of quantum computing, quantum noise, and quantum error correction. They will apply analytical techniques and perform numerical simulations to study the performance of small-size quantum codes under Markovian and non-Markovian noise.

Supervision. The student will have frequent 1-1 meetings with Prof. Marvian. In addition, the student will participate in the weekly group meeting and will work closely with a graduate student/postdoc.

Questions? Email:


10. Silicon quantum photonic integrated circuits (SiQuPICs)

Supervisor: Prof. Marek Osinski (Electrical & Computer Engineering), Lab Webpage.

 Osinski Lab

Research Overview. Osinski’s research spans a broad range of disciplines, from optoelectronics, nanotechnology, superconductors, and nuclear radiation detection to biomedical applications of colloidal quantum dots, neuromorphic computing, and quantum information processing. His group is highly interdisciplinary, providing unique opportunities for students studying physics, electrical and computer engineering, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, optics, nanoscience, etc. to contribute and learn from each other in a research team environment. High-school, undergraduate, and graduate students are working of various projects, with multilevel mentoring up to postdoctoral. The group currently consists of 8 high-school students, 10 undergraduate students, 11 graduate students, one postdoc, and one senior research faculty.

QU-REACH Project. Under this project, the undergraduate student(s) will participate in development and integration of novel devices for the generation, manipulation, propagation, and detection of single- and entangled photons for quantum information processing as part of a larger team. The quantum photonic integrated circuits are implemented in a silicon photonics platform that can be used in future large-scale quantum communication networks. This project brings together expertise in materials science and engineering; semiconductor fabrication, processing, and devices; superconducting device physics; classical nonlinear and quantum optics; and optical communications to solve technical challenges for the development and realization of a scalable integrated quantum communication platform. Most of the fabrication will be conducted at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT), a user facility located in Albuquerque and operated jointly by Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

What the Student Will Do. The activities under this project include design, fabrication, and characterization of single-photon and entangled photon pair sources, gate-defined quantum dots, superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors (SNSPDs), and integrated waveguide channels to manipulate photons. The student(s) will gain experience in device simulation (Rsoft, Comsol, and Fortran), mask design for photolithography and e-beam lithography (AutoCAD), process development for SiQuPIC fabrication, use of various processing and characterization tools, conducting experiments in cryogenic environment (LabVIEW), data analysis and visualization (Mathematica, MatLab, Fortran, C/C++, Python, Origin), preparation of papers for publication, and presentation or results at group meeting.

Supervision. The student(s) will participate in weekly group meetings, during which progress of each group member is discussed. Daily supervision will be provided by the graduate students and the postdoc working on the project. Students working at CINT will be trained in the use of facility and specific fabrication tools.

Questions? Email: