25 Mar

Oxford Instruments announces Dr Menno Veldhorst of QuTech, Technical University of Delft as winner of the 2019 Nicholas Kurti Science Prize

Oxford Instruments is delighted to announce that the winner of the 2019 Nicholas Kurti Science Prize is Dr Menno Veldhorst of QuTech, a collaboration between the Technical University of Delft and Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) in the Netherlands. The Nicholas Kurti Science Prize promotes and recognises the novel work of young European scientists working in the fields of low temperatures and/or high magnetic fields. 

Dr Veldhorst is recognised for his ground-breaking work on silicon-and germanium-based electron spin quantum bits. This includes a demonstration of record spin coherence times and the demonstration of integrated two-qubit functionality. 

The focus of Menno Veldhorst’s research is on the experimental realisation of scalable quantum computers, presenting one of the most inspiring and important scientific and technological challenges today. Currently, quantum bits (qubits) based on superconducting circuits and trapped ions have reached a certain maturity, both of which are faced with difficulties in scaling up to the large numbers of qubits that will likely be needed to solve problems that are both relevant and beyond the reach of supercomputers. In the last five years, electron spins in semiconductor quantum dots, measured at low temperatures and in a magnetic field, have gained considerable momentum as an alternative platform that may offer the ultimate scalability required. Dr Veldhorst has made several absolutely key contributions that have put spin qubits firmly on the map. 

“I feel very honoured receiving the prestigious Nicholas Kurti Science prize by Oxford Instruments.", commented Dr Veldhorst. “Semiconductor quantum dots have long been anticipated as a promising platform for quantum information. I am very proud to have contributed to the development of this field and to see that quantum dot qubits are increasingly being studied by both academic and industrial players to develop practical quantum computers”. 

Dr Veldhorst will be formally presented with the Nicholas Kurti Science Prize trophy at a future research conference in Europe, where he will present his award-winning research work.

The Nicholas Kurti Science Prize selection committee was particularly impressed by Dr Veldhorst's work on spin qubits at millikelvin temperatures, and the achievement of very long coherence times, work which has strong implications for the development of quantum computing. The committee consists of leading European physicists, chaired by Professor George Pickett, Lancaster University, UK. 

The Nicholas Kurti Science Prize exists to recognise and promote the novel work of young European scientists working in the fields of low temperatures and high magnetic fields. Oxford Instruments is aware that there is a critical and often difficult stage for many such researchers between completing their PhD and gaining a permanent research position. Through sponsorship of the Nicholas Kurti Science Prize, and the other Physics Science Prizes in the Americas, Japan, China and India, the company supports individuals who are producing innovative work by offering assistance both financially and through promotion of their research work. This is the 14th year of Oxford Instruments sponsorship of the Nicholas Kurti Science Prize, named in honour of the late Professor Nicholas Kurti (1908-1998). Professor Kurti is known for his distinguished work in ultra-low temperature physics at the Clarendon Laboratory, University of Oxford, UK which during his career earned the name “the coldest spot on earth” as a consequence of the ground-breaking research conducted there; using adiabatic demagnetisation Professor Kurti was able to create temperatures of a millionth of a degree above absolute zero.

The previous winners of the Nicholas Kurti Science Prize are Professor Dr Alexander Ako Khajetoorians, Dr Lapo Bogani, Professor Ronald Hanson, Professor Mathias Kläui, Professor Dr Christian Rüegg, Professor John Morton, Professor Lieven Vandersypen, Professor Kostya Novoselov, Professor Andreas Wallraff, Dr Silvano De Franceschi, Dr Isabel Guillamón, Dr Andrea Kaviglia, Dr Francois Parmentier, Dr Erwann Bocquillon and Dr Philip Moll.