MPL Alumni Prof. Daqing Wang receives prestigious ERC grant
Interview with Prof. Daqing Wang, an MPL alumni who is now a Tenure Track Professor at Kassel and just managed to secure a prestigious Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC)
Prof. Dr. Daqing Wang earned his doctorate at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light (MPL) in 2019. After moving to the University of Kassel, he has now received a prestigious starting grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for his research in the area of molecular quantum technology.
Daqing Wang has been gone from MPL for over 4 years, but he immediately notices change when call him for an interview in December. “You managed to get a black board into this white building?” he asked jokingly, before our interview. After getting over this “shock”, he talked with our press officers for an hour on how he came to MPL, how his time was and what he has been up to since.
After finishing his Bachelor’s Degree at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, in 2006, Wang moved across half the world to Jena where he did his Master’s Degree at the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität. He explains: “I was offered a scholarship; I was quite grateful for the financial support because it allowed me to go overseas for my studies.”
From Vienna to Erlangen
He was always interested in Quantum Optics and exploring Physics using light, which brought him to Vienna and the Group of Anton Zeilinger, one of the three scientists who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2022. In 2012 he joined Zeilinger and his team to work in a quantum teleportation study. “This was a large-scale experiment; we traveled all the way to the Canary Islands and used one of the world’s largest single-aperture optical telescope” Prof. Wang explains. The team managed to achieve quantum teleportation over a record distance of 143 km (the previous best attempt, set just a few months prior, had been 97 km). After this experience, Wang was looking for something different, an experiment that would be small enough to fit on an optical table. This is what brought him to MPL as the next step in his research journey.
In 2013, Daqing Wang joined the division of Vahid Sandoghdar, the then newly appointed director at MPL. “It was a nice chance for me, they were also still new at the time, Vahid had an empty optical table and even a new cryostat, so it was perfect” he remembers. When he joined, the institute had not yet moved to the new building at the Staudtstraße 2. As his group was still setting up at the time, the PhD student was able to be part of a lot of experiments getting started: “It was a very exciting time and a great experience for me going forward. The group atmosphere was also great, we had a lot of really nice times especially at beer fests!” He especially enjoyed working with his lab colleague Hrishikesh Kelkar, who was a postdoc in the Sandoghdar division between 2012 and 2018.
Looking for a new challenge
After finishing his PhD at the end of 2018, Wang again looked a for a new challenge and found one at the University of Kassel. He says: “I wanted to do my own experiments in Quantum Optics. There were a lot of choices, but Kassel convinced me for two reasons. They offered me a lot of independence at a very early state. And it wasn’t too big a move from Erlangen, which was nice because at this point I also had a family to consider.” In Kassel, he again joined a recently formed group, this time the group of Prof. Dr. Kilian Singer. He helped Singer hire students and set up a new trapped ion experiment. After this he was able to secure funding for his own research from the German Research Fundation (DFG) and have his own lab and students. Since December 1, 2022 he is a Tenure Track Professor at Kassel and in addition to this, he recently managed to secure a prestigious Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) amount to 1,89 Million Euros.
With this money, Wang aims to combine the research he did at Erlangen with his work at Kassel to explore the potential of long-lived quantum states as a storage unit for information in quantum communication. He wants to find and control singular nuclear spins in organic molecules and provide proof of principle, that these spins can be used as a storage unit and interface with photons. There is a lot of potential for molecular spins in quantum information technology, he believes. With this ERC Grant, Prof. Wang can fund this research for five years as he looks to further develop approaches that he focused on in his time at MPL. We wish him all the best and will continue to follow his research with great interest!
Picture 1 (priv.): Prof. Dr. Daqing Wang
Picture 2 (Daqing Wang): Research work of Daqing Wang during his PhD at the MPL: an optical microcavity interface allows nearly perfect coupling of light with a single molecule.
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