Management Assistant: Marja Plas
Lieven Vandersypen (Leuven, Belgium, 1972) studied Mechanical Engineering at the KU Leuven and received a MSc and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University (2001). He carried out most of his PhD research at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, CA. During these years, his scientific interests and fascination evolved from mechatronics to micro-electromechanical systems to quantum mechanics and quantum information. As a PhD student, he used the spins of atomic nuclei in a molecule as quantum bits and implemented various quantum algorithms for the first time. Most famously, he demonstrated Shor’s quantum algorithm for finding the prime factors of the number fifteen (15=3×5).
He then moved to TU Delft, the Netherlands, first as a postdoc and since 2006 as Antoni van Leeuwenhoek professor. He leads a group that pioneered quantum computing based on electron spins in semiconductor quantum dots, often dubbed “artificial molecules”. Breakthrough results were the ability to trap, initialize, manipulate and read out the spin of single and coupled electrons. “Over time, we get used to working with single electrons, but every time I pause to think what it is we’re doing, I’m really amazed”, he notes. His current interests are to demonstrate that the fundamental process of decoherence can be reserved, thereby protecting fragile quantum bits for as long as is needed, and to simulate complex materials and molecules using an engineered system (a quantum dot array).
Ultimately, what drives him is to see the most fundamental and puzzling aspects of quantum mechanics applied to tasks that are otherwise impossible, creating opportunities for scientific and technological breakthroughs.