The Wallenberg Academy Fellow is a five-year grant which provides young researchers with opportunities to make important scientific breakthroughs by providing long-term research funding in Sweden. Witlef Wieczorek is funded with 7.5 MSEK for the years 2020-2024 with a possibility to apply for five years extension after that.
"It feels just great and I am overwhelmed by this decision and award. The Wallenberg Academy Fellow means much to me as it provides me with the opportunity to pursue a long-term and challenging research project, here at Chalmers," he says.
Witlef joined MC2 in 2017 as tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Excellence Initiative Nano. Since then, he built up a lab and a research group, whose focus lies on research with mechanical-based quantum devices.
As a Wallenberg Academy Fellow, he will pursue his research project entitled "Levitated superconducting mechanical resonators: a novel platform for quantum experiments and sensing".
"The big goal of the project is to prepare a micrometer-sized object in a spatial superposition state. Though superposition states are at the heart of the flourishing field of quantum technologies, such big objects have never been brought into such states."
Witlef gives us an example:
"Erwin Schrödinger, one of the founders of quantum mechanics, invented the gedankenexperiment of a cat being dead and alive at the same time. Though, such a state of a cat is in principle allowed by the laws of quantum mechanics, we have never observed superposed cats. The current record in superposition size is held by impressive experiments that observe the interference of large molecules. My project aims to superpose 10 million times heavier objects. This goal is ambitious! Therefore, we construct a novel experimental platform that should make this possible: levitated micrometer-sized superconducting objects that are coupled to superconducting circuitry," he explains.
The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation is announcing 29 new Wallenberg Academy Fellows on 3 December 2019. The underlying intention of this investment is to strengthen Sweden as a research nation by retaining the greatest talent in the country, while also recruiting young international researchers to Sweden.
"To make scientific breakthroughs, it is important to concentrate on your research for a long period and have good resources. Wallenberg Academy Fellows provides these conditions, and they are available during what could be the most creative phase of their research careers. They also have the opportunity to participate in a mentoring program, which helps boost their scientific leadership," says Göran K. Hansson, Secretary General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Text and photo: Michael Nystås
Read an interview from January 2018 with Witlef Wieczorek