The Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (IQIM) is a center-level activity that spans Quantum Information Science (QIS), Condensed Matter Physics (CMP), Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics (AMOP), and the emerging field of Mechanical Quantum Systems (MQS). The unifying theme for the IQIM is the exploration of collective quantum phenomena that endow physical systems of many interacting constituents with astonishing properties that in effect transform the weirdness of the microscopic quantum realm to macroscopic scales. The principal motivations for the creation of the IQIM are the extraordinary set of scientific opportunities associated with the study of exotic quantum states of matter and the potential for discovery brought by newly developed tools from Quantum Information Science. The IQIM ties together the diverse Caltech community of researchers, from physics to applied physics, to computer science, who focus on emergent quantum phenomena and provides a sustaining base for the scientific development of a new field of research that will actively involve national and international communities of researchers in QIS, CMP, AMOP, and MQS. By way of extensive programs in education and outreach, the IQIM will impact high school and college education and will engage the general public with the "mind boggling" nature of the quantum realm.

It has long been known that individual atoms and electrons, as well as electromagnetic and mechanical oscillators (i.e., photons and phonons), obey laws of quantum physics that in many respects defy common sense. Under the right conditions, interactions among many such quantum objects can lead to remarkable quantum phenomena that have heretofore not existed in nature. Advances to create, characterize, and utilize such exotic quantum phenomena have been made in condensed matter physics (CMP), atomic-molecular-optical physics (AMOP), and at the interface between these areas. In conjunction with parallel developments in quantum information science (QIS), a revolution is underway in the study of exotic quantum systems that is the unifying theme and driving motivation for the IQIM. Progress in the experimental realization and theoretical understanding in this area will surely have profound implications for basic physics. The IQIM will merge insights and analytic tools from QIS with advancing laboratory capabilities in CMP, AMOP, and MQS for the discovery and characterization of exotic quantum states of matter, and will thereby shed light on issues at the core of physics. Eventually, the ability to manipulate exotic quantum systems may lead to new technological capabilities, including methods for designing and exploiting quantum materials.

The Institute for Quantum Information and Matter will have the following scientific thrusts:

Quantum Information: Investigators at the current NSF-sponsored Institute for Quantum Information (IQI) have made Caltech a recognized world leader in theoretical QIS. IQI faculty are integral members of the IQIM and conduct research that is closely allied to the IQIM, e.g., the application of topological principles to quantum phase transitions and the discovery of universal features of entanglement that that distinguish quantum phases of matter. Research at the IQIM includes investigations of the connections between quantum information science and other aspects of basic physics. IQI scientists will lead the quest to apply insights into the properties of quantum entanglement for the study of quantum many-body systems and quantum phase transitions, as well as to apply quantum information theory to illuminate how information is encoded in spacetimes subject to strong quantum fluctuations. The IQI will also continue its world leading programs on quantum computation and communication.

Quantum Many-Body Physics: Caltech has world leading programs in the quantum physics of strongly interacting many-body systems (e.g., superconductors, exotic magnets, strongly correlated electron systems, etc.). Research thrusts in this area will emphasize emergent quantum phenomena, including quantum Hall physics, topological states of matter, exotic magnetic systems, and ultra-cold atomic gases, and with strong connections to powerful theoretical techniques from QIS. These studies will involve some of the most fascinating and puzzling manifestations of many-body quantum mechanics.

Quantum Optics: Another area of great strength at Caltech is the study of optical interactions at the level of one atom and photon, where seminal advances in the realization of new paradigms for light-matter interactions by way of micro- and nano-scopic optical cavities have been made. Within IQIM, existing capabilities for quantum control of strong interactions of single atoms and photons will be extended to explore quantum many-body systems composed of 1- and 2-D arrays of atoms whose interactions are mediated by photons in microscopic quantum optical circuits.

Quantum Mechanics of Mechanical Systems: Faculty in the IQIM in will build upon recent advances in opto- and electro-mechanics 1) to achieve quantum control of single phonons in simple material systems, thereby enabling lithographic fabrication of quantum many-body systems with phonon mediated interactions, and 2) to create human-sized objects in entangled quantum states within the setting of LIGO.

The IQIM has many facets beyond fundamental research to explore exotic quantum states of matter and the interface with QIS. With the end of scalability of conventional silicon-based information technology on the horizon, it is vitally important to explore aggressively new paradigms for information technology. By attracting and training top students and postdoctoral scholars in QIS, CMP, AMOP, and MQS, the IQIM will significantly strengthen the US presence in these areas and will broaden the nation's technical base. A particularly important aspect of the IQIM?s broader impact is a vibrant visitor program, which fuels intellectual excitement, facilitates collaborations and exchanges of scientific ideas, and performs a highly valued service for national and international communities at the interfaces of QIS, CMP, AMOP, and MQS.

The IQIM will also undertake extensive programs for outreach and the development of human resources. The goal is to use the public's fascination with the mysteries of the quantum realm to engage a broad community in basic science and education. Activities include the following: The Caltech Precollege Science Initiative (CAPSI )- In collaboration with CAPSI, IQIM will develop high school curricula for one to two week instructional modules related to the scientific activities of the Institute, Summer internships for high school teachers and students from multiethnic LA regional high schools, Caltech MURF program for undergraduate research experience of minority students in IQIM laboratories, Disseminating science via a science and entertainment partnership in collaboration with The Science and Entertainment Exchange (SEE), Development of university curricula related to IQIM fields of research, Public presentations via the Caltech Watson Lectures and YouTube videos.

These activities will be accessible via an interactive IQIM website.

Funding is provided by the Division of Physics in the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences and the Division of Computing and Communication Foundations in the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Physics (PHY)
Cooperative Agreement (Coop)
Application #
Program Officer
Jean Allen
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
California Institute of Technology
United States
Zip Code