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Luxembourg National Research Fund

Dr Aurélia Chenu awarded FNR ATTRACT Fellowship


Aurélia Chenu, who joined the University of Luxembourg in January 2021, recently was awarded a ATTRACT fellowship from the FNR to create her own group in quantum physics. She is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Materials Science and leads the group on quantum dynamics and control. The ATTRACT grant is doted with 2 MEUR over five years.

“The Physics research unit at the University of Luxembourg has developed impressively over the last few years. I am very pleased that the FNR can reinforce the excellence of this unit by supporting Professor Aurélia Chénu in her research in the emerging and important field of open quantum systems.” – Marc Schiltz, FNR CEO

Any realistic quantum system, due to its small size, inevitably interacts with the surrounding medium, making it “open”. Open quantum systems represent a wide variety of systems, ranging from simple building blocks (atoms, molecules) to complex mesoscopic systems (spin chains, molecular networks). Their study has led to advances in fields such as quantum optics, quantum control and physical chemistry. Today’s conventional concepts and material performance are governed by quantum properties and associated dynamical processes. Understanding the underlying dynamical properties is therefore essential to identify system arrangements with optimised functions.

At the same time, the control of dynamical processes is necessary to advance quantum technologies, in particular to protect quantum coherence and reduce dissipation, to make processes faster and more energy efficient. Progress in the field of fast quantum control has been mainly restricted to closed systems, which limits the scope of application. Despite considerable progress, a general framework is currently lacking to understand how dissipation and decoherence can be exploited and optimised to protect useful quantum features and control quantum systems.

Aurélia Chenu has been working in the broad field of quantum science and technology for over nine years. She will now create a group that brings unique analytical and numerical expertise in the dynamics of open quantum systems. While her research is primarily fundamental in nature and driven by the desire to understand, she also wants to contribute to society by proposing solutions for sustainable energy production.

The broad scope of the project, encompassing analytical models, computer science, technology and materials, will foster interaction within the University of Luxembourg and beyond.

“We aim to generate control protocols that manage dissipation and decoherence to achieve a target quantum state or quantum dynamics, by combining analytical and numerical tools. By protecting nature’s fragile quantum properties, we can find new ways to optimise quantum transport in dissipative networks for efficient energy harvesting systems. Instead of trying to suppress the effect of the environment, we seek to exploit and optimise it to protect the useful quantum features of the system.”

My hope is that we can help steer the search for new materials for artificial photovoltaics towards a systematic and quantitative approach, develop new ideas for quantum computing or stimulate projects merging physics and biology. The potential is enormous and we need to develop quantum science and technology in Luxembourg, helping to build international leadership in these emerging future technologies.”

“This FNR ATTRACT Fellowship is an excellent opportunity to advance an innovative project and establish my own research group at the University. It will reinforce my status as an internationally recognised expert in the field of quantum science and technology. This is a key area of research, with emerging applications to develop quantum computers and efficient solar energy conversion systems. As such, it has great potential to provide new and timely solutions to emerging technologies. Being at the interface of physics, biology, materials science and technology, the proposed project offers an ideal training platform, attractive to young researchers. I am looking forward to contributing to the training of competent researchers and scientific excellence here in Luxembourg.” Prof Dr Aurélia Chenu

This text is adapted from the original version published on the website of the University of Luxembourg.

About the FNR ATTRACT programme

The ATTRACT programme is designed for researchers not yet established in Luxembourg, who demonstrate the potential to become leaders in their field of research. The scheme offers promising junior researchers the opportunity to set up their own research team within one of the country’s research institutions. ATTRACT grants are between 1.5 MEUR and 2 MEUR over five years.

Go to ATTRACT programme page

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