Ketterle will use his award of up to $3 million over five years for his research into quantum science with ultracold atoms on a 50-nanometer scale.
“With the Vannevar Bush faculty fellowship’s generous and flexible funding, I can explore a new direction of research,” says Ketterle, the John D. MacArthur Professor of Physics at MIT. “Using a super-resolution technique, we can put atoms only 50 nm apart and study new quantum science. We will use dysprosium atoms for these studies, since they are the most magnetic atoms in the periodic table. At a 50-nm distance, dysprosium atoms will have strong interactions which are purely magnetic. We want to use this to build a purely magnetic quantum gate.”
As the department's flagship single-investigator award for basic research, the fellowship commemorates Vannevar Bush (1890-1974), the former director of the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development. He was nicknamed “The General of Physics” for his role in building up the science and technology enterprise that drove the United States' rapid growth as a military and economic superpower.
Bush received his PhD in 1916 from MIT, where he later served as vice president and dean of engineering. He also founded the defense and electronics company that became Raytheon in 1922.
The fellowship aims to advance “transformative fundamental research within universities, nurturing high-risk ideas in pursuit of breakthrough discoveries, and giving researchers the freedom to explore the frontiers of knowledge in their respective fields.”
The 2023 Class of Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellows will join a group of about 50 current fellows involved in DoD research that includes materials science, cognitive neuroscience, quantum information sciences, and applied mathematics.
“I am pleased to welcome these exceptional scholars to the DoD family,” says Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu. “Their selections for the Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship will allow them to truly change the course of science in their fields, and I know they will set the department up for breakthroughs in our future capabilities.”
Formerly known as the National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowship, this award is sponsored by the Basic Research Office within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, with grants managed by the Office of Naval Research. For the fiscal year 2023 competition, the Basic Research Office received 190 white papers, from which panels of experts invited 31 proposals, for a final selection of 10 fellows.