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Elena Hassinger's €2.7 Million ERC Consolidator Grant Journey

Elena Hassinger, a distinguished physicist specializing in low-temperature research at the Würzburg-Dresden Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat, has secured a €2.7 million grant from the European Research Council.

Depicted is the superconducting miracle cerium-rhodium-arsenic (CeRh₂As₂). Thanks to a €2.7 million grant from the European Research Council, Elena Hassinger will be able to advance her research on this material at the Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat for the next five years.

This ERC Consolidator Grant will bolster her groundbreaking investigations into unconventional superconductors, with the potential for significant advancements in topological quantum computing.

Over the course of the next five years, Hassinger's research in Dresden will focus on unraveling the mysterious characteristics of cerium-rhodium-arsenic (CeRh2As2) and examining analogous quantum materials under highly controlled laboratory conditions.

Unconventional Superconductor CeRh2As2: A Quantum Superstar

Elena Hassinger, an authority in low-temperature physics affiliated with ct.qmat—Complexity and Topology in Quantum Matter, a collaborative initiative between two universities in Würzburg and Dresden, has long been associated with research in extreme cold. In 2021, she unveiled the unconventional superconductor cerium-rhodium-arsenic (CeRh2As2).

Typically, superconductors exhibit a single phase of resistance-free electron transport below a critical temperature. However, according to findings published in the academic journal Science, CeRh2As2 stands out as the only quantum material to possess two distinct superconducting states.

The pursuit of lossless current conduction in superconductors has been a focal point in solid-state physics for decades, presenting a promising avenue for the future of power engineering.

The revelation of a second superconducting phase in CeRh2As2, arising from an asymmetrical crystal structure around the cerium atom (while the remainder of the crystal structure remains entirely symmetrical), positions this compound as an ideal candidate for applications in topological quantum computing.

Hassinger intends to expand her exploration to other quantum materials exhibiting similar unconventional structural properties, with the aim of achieving topological superconductivity at elevated temperatures.

ERC Consolidator Grant: €2.7 Million Boost from the European Research Council

The European Research Council has granted Hassinger €2.7 million for her project “Exotic Quantum States by Locally Broken Inversion Symmetry in Extreme Conditions—Ixtreme.”

Over the upcoming five years, she plans to leverage this funding to advance her examination of the superconducting marvel CeRh2As2 within her Dresden laboratories. Her objectives include unraveling related quantum materials and making a substantial contribution to a breakthrough in topological quantum computing.

If we can confirm the theoretical predictions of topological surface states on my cerium-rhodium-arsenic compound in the laboratory, this could pave the way for the creation of topological quantum bits (qubits). This would be a huge step forward.

Elena Hassinger, Renowned Low-Temperature Physicist, Würzburg-Dresden Cluster of Excellence

Huge Potential for Topological Quantum Computing

Topological qubits are recognized for their resilience, providing quantum states that exhibit significantly greater stability when compared to their non-topological counterparts. A major hurdle in contemporary research lies in devising a methodology to sustain 1,000 qubits concurrently.

Accomplishing this feat would empower quantum processors to execute tasks in mere minutes that would otherwise require conventional supercomputers years. This is precisely why the ingenious researchers at ct.qmat are directing their focus toward investigating topological quantum materials.

Groundbreaking Research Under Extreme Laboratory Conditions

In her pursuit of exploring the unconventional superconductor cerium-rhodium-arsenic, Hassinger initially requires a cryostat to lower the temperature of the material sample to below 0.35 Kelvin (–272.8 °C).

This machine costs over a million euros. Negotiations are already underway.

Elena Hassinger, Renowned Low-Temperature Physicist, Würzburg-Dresden Cluster of Excellence

Once the sample reaches a low enough temperature, it will undergo exposure to high pressure and an exceptionally strong magnetic field, reaching up to 18 Tesla—far surpassing the 0.1 Tesla field generated by a standard horseshoe magnet.

Conducting these high-pressure magnetic field measurements could take several months, requiring precise daily adjustments.

Elena Hassinger, Renowned Low-Temperature Physicist, Würzburg-Dresden Cluster of Excellence

Her objective is to meticulously investigate the second superconducting phase of cerium-rhodium-arsenic, aiming to conclusively establish the material as a topological superconductor.

If she succeeds, this extraordinary material would not only facilitate lossless electron conduction but also exhibit resilient topological surface states that hold potential for application in quantum computing operations.

Outlook

The European Research Council funds promising pioneering research with the ERC Consolidator Grant. Elena Hassinger is an experienced physicist who has discovered an exceptional material. With this new grant, she aims to be the first to experimentally characterize its exotic quantum states and also find related quantum states in similar materials at higher temperatures. We’re thrilled to have her as part of our ct.qmat research family,” stated Professor Matthias Vojta, ct.qmat’s Dresden spokesperson.

Source: https://tu-dresden.de/

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