Schoelkopf Earns Norton Professorship

Jonathan Greco | October 25, 2009

“Quantum computing is really an unexplored, untapped power,” remarked Professor Robert Schoelkopf, newly endowed William A. Norton Professor of Applied Physics and Physics.

Since joining the Yale faculty in 1998, Schoel­kopf has taught various classes and has been involved in cutting-edge research. In particular, his work focuses on quantum computing and nanoscale physics. His fields of focus are inter­disciplinary, synthesizing physics, electrical engi­neering, and quantum mechanics. As a subset of applied physics, the field of quantum computing has long intrigued Schoelkopf. “I am fascinated by the ideas that are central to quantum mechan­ics,” he said. “It has many aspects which are very counterintuitive… and quantum computing is a recent idea, which says that you can do seemingly rewarding and ridiculous things if you process information in a quantum mechanical way.”

Schoelkopf ’s research uses various techniques to observe the nature and behavior of small fundamental particles. One major goal is the development of a quantum computer, a theoretical device that would be several times more powerful than the computers we use today. While creating one would be “extremely difficult,” Schoelkopf believes that “there’s no reason why you can’t do it. It’s not impossible.” The energy, enthusiasm, and skill with which Professor Schoelkopf pursues the most challenging of physical problems have earned him the rank of Norton Professor. His research pushes the boundaries of contemporary physics and leads the way to a deeper understanding of both quantum computing and nanoscale physics. “To be able to delve into something we haven’t yet explored,” he mused, “that’s kind of fun.”