Professor Michelle Simmons, who this week was awarded the top honour at the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, will trace the path from the discovery of the atom to the race to create the world’s first quantum computer in her first Boyer Lecture, The Atomic Revolution on Thursday 19 October.
Her lecture will reflect on what started out a quarter century ago as frontier science to test the bounds of what was technically possible. In that time, she has demonstrated the ability to manipulate atoms into working atomic-scale devices and created a clear pathway for making a quantum computer.
Professor Simmons said “This is a story that links fundamental physics with extraordinary technological advancement and the future of computing. It is also largely an Australian story.”
“My team’s ability to make electronic devices at the level of single atoms puts us at the very forefront of this field and has given us a unique opportunity to build a quantum computer here in Australia.”
“Current estimates suggest that 40% of our economy has the potential to be impacted by quantum computing and that the global quantum computing opportunity could be worth $150 billion per annum by 2040.”
“My team and I are now on a mission to use our atomic assembly technology to build a prototype quantum computer for which all the functional elements are manufactured and controlled at the atomic scale.”
The Atomic Revolution with Professor Simmons will screen live on ABC TV and ABC iview on Thursday 19 October at 8pm. ABC RN will broadcast the four Boyer lectures weekly from Sunday 22 October at 9.30am and anytime on ABC listen.
About Professor Michelle Simmons AO FRS FAA FRSN FTSE
Professor Simmons is the CEO of Silicon Quantum Computing and the Director at the Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology at the University of New South Wales. She was the inaugural Editor-in-Chief of Nature Quantum Information.
Professor Simmons is a pioneer in atomic electronics and a global leader in quantum computing. Her achievements include developing the world’s first single-atom transistor, the world’s narrowest conducting wires, the ability to encode and read information on single atoms and the world ‘s first integrated circuit made with atomic precision.
Professor Simmons is a Fellow of the Royal Society, the American Academy of Arts and Science, the American Association of the Advancement of Science, the UK Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering and of the Australian Academy of Science.
She has been awarded the Bakerian Medal from the Royal Society in the UK, the American Foresight Institute Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology, the George R Stibitz Computer and Communications Pioneer Award from the American Computer Museum and was named Asia Pacific 2017 L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Laureate. She was the 2018 Australian of the Year and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2019.
The Boyer Lecture series, named after former ABC Chairman Sir Richard Boyer, is a series of lectures from a prominent Australian invited to express their thoughts on major social, cultural, scientific or political issues.
Laura Todd, ABC Communications