AQET seminars offer students exposure to broad range of disciplines

Over the winter quarter, QuantumX’s Accelerated Quantum Engineering and Technology (AQET) students met with and learned from leading engineers and scientists in the quantum information field. Speakers from Amazon, Microsoft, Google, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and a wide variety of other institutions gave students a fresh perspective on their research, emerging technologies, and possible career paths. 

Audrey in Santiago Chile

AQET Scholar Q&A with Audrey Budlong

As a high school student, Bellevue, WA native Audrey Budlong was a Running Start Student, a program with Bellevue College allowing high school juniors and seniors to earn college credits at the same time as high school credits. The program helped her earn an Associate of Science degree in Physics, Engineering and Atmospheric Science at the same time as she earned her high school diploma in 2019. The early exposure to STEM fields and research helped her pick a major in physics at UW and drove her to pursue quantum information science. She’s currently a second-year physics graduate student and an Accelerating Quantum Engineering and Technology (AQET) Fellow [link] in QuantumX.

Di Xiao, Ting Cao and Xiaodong Xu


Quantum computers have the potential to play a key role in achieving a clean energy future. For example, quantum computing could fast-track the development of new materials and processes for ultra-efficient energy production and storage. However, building a useful quantum computer is extremely difficult — it is not even currently clear which materials are best for creating quantum bits (qubits). To address this grand challenge, project co-PIs Matthew Yankowitz, Xiaodong Xu, Di Xiao, and Ting Cao propose an entirely new approach towards building topological qubits based upon atomically-thin “van der Waals” materials. Xu, Xiao, and Cao recently discovered rare quantum properties in stacked, slightly misaligned two-dimensional sheets of the semiconductor molybdenum ditelluride. These materials can be coupled with vdW superconductors to create unique particles with fractional electronic charges, known as parafermions, which if harnessed could be the backbone of a device for storing and processing quantum information.

dina Ripin (left), lead author of the study and a doctoral student in the physics department, Ruoming Peng (center), co-lead author and a recent UW ECE graduate (Ph.D. ‘22), and senior author Mo Li (right), a professor in UW ECE

University of Washington team detects atomic ‘breathing’ for quantum computing breakthrough

Most of us don’t think of atoms as having their own unique vibrations, but they do. In fact, it’s a feature so fundamental to nature’s building blocks that a team of University of Washington researchers recently observed and used this phenomenon in their research study. By studying the light atoms emitted when stimulated by a laser, they were able to detect vibrations sometimes referred to as atomic “breathing.”

Mo Li

UW ECE Research Colloquium

Lightning is seen much earlier than the thunder is heard because light travels nearly one million times faster than sound in air. In solid-state materials, however, the speed of sound increases while the speed of light slows down. Moreover, the acoustic wave traveling in the medium generates a periodic modulation of the medium’s optical properties, which can lead to strong interaction with the light traveling in the medium.

Enrique Garcia working on an antenna in QuantumX lab.

Showcasing student research

At a top-tier research institution like the UW, research doesn’t take a summer break. In addition to graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, many College of Engineering labs host undergraduates during the summer months, giving the students a unique, hands-on experience conducting cutting-edge engineering research alongside faculty.