Professor David D. Awschalom received his Ph.D. in physics from Cornell University, and was a Research Staff Member and Manager of the Nonequilibrium Physics Department at the IBM Watson Research Center. He joined the University of California-Santa Barbara as a Professor of Physics, and was additionally appointed as a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is presently Director of the Center for Spintronics and Quantum Computation, and Director of the California NanoSystems Institute. His group has developed a variety of femtosecond-resolved imaging spectroscopies that help drive research in spintronics and quantum information processing using semiconductors and nanostructures.
Eighty years since Dirac developed the quantum theory of electron spin, contemporary information technology still relies largely on classical electronics: the charge of electrons for computation and the magnetic materials for permanent storage. Here we focus on the development of semiconductor spintronics, an area of research beyond today's electronics that aims to enable fundamentally new information technologies based on the quantum nature of the electron. Research at the frontiers of this field includes methods to generate, manipulate, and transport these states in nanometer-scale structures. These developments have launched technological efforts with applications ranging from secure data encryption to radical improvements in computation speed. We describe recent advances towards these goals, including the surprising ability to control single spins for communication and computation in a material surrounding us for generations: diamond. Electron spins in diamond may allow for quantum information processing at room temperature, as they can be imaged, initialized and read-out optically with coherence times extending well into the microsecond regime. We demonstrate the coherent control and coupling of single spins using magneto-optical imaging and electron spin resonance measurements, including studies that explore the coherent dynamics of a single central spin coupled to an adjustable spin bath. These studies reveal that spins in diamond provide an excellent test bed for basic models and protocols in both spintronics and quantum information.