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Shireen Adenwalla.
Adenwalla selected as EQUATE Seed Grant Recipient

Professor Shireen Adenwalla with University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Physics and Astronomy was chosen as a Seed Grant Recipient with the Emergent Quantum Materials and Technologies (EQUATE) research group, funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) EPSCoR. EQUATE’s Management Team chose her proposal from five applicants for the one-year opportunity. Adenwalla and a graduate student will investigate “Strain Driven Skyrmions in Thin Film Heterostructures,” which fits with EQUATE’s Focused Research Group (FRG1) area—specifically the topic of Correlation, Topological and Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Materials.

Abdelghani Laraoui (right), assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering, and Ben Hammons, a first-year student in electrical and computer engineering, adjust a laser in Laraoui's Quantum Sensing & Defect Discovery and Spectroscopy Lab.
Laraoui team put big chill on quantum computing to eliminate 'noise'

By looking to create quieter environments, a team led by Nebraska Engineering researcher Abdelghani Laraoui hopes to take a bit of the “noise” out of quantum computing and help make emerging technology more efficient, accessible, and feasible. The goal is to find materials that show potential for improving the performance of quantum computers, which can be utilized to control the disruptions – also known as decoherence (or noise) – that keep these superfast computers from performing at their best. Unlike classic computing systems, quantum computers have no memory or processors but instead use superconductive subatomic qubits, which store and process information and are ideal for higher-level tasks – such as running simulations and analyzing data – with superfast speed and precision. But, Laraoui said, quantum computers often need an extremely cold environment around 10 mK (equivalent to – 459 Fahrenheit) to perform well with lower error rates. Laraoui is collaborating with Wichita State University researchers on a three-year, $800,000 Track 1 award from the National Science Foundation’s Expand Capacity in Quantum Information Science and Engineering (ExpandQISE) program.

A copy of the back cover image from Advanced Optical Materials is on the right and a photo of the PI, Abdelghani Laraoui, is on the left..
EQUATE-funded paper published on back cover of Advanced Optical Materials

Abdelghani Laraoui and colleagues showed that when single photon emitters in thin hexagonal boron nitride flakes are brought in contact with silver nanocubes, their quantum properties are enhanced due to plasmonic effects, manifested by a decrease in their excited state lifetime, a narrowing of their spectra, and an increase of their fluorescence. The paper titled "Plasmon Enhanced Quantum Properties of Single Photon Emitters with Hybrid Hexagonal Boron Nitride Silver Nanocube Systems" was selected for the back cover of Advanced Optical Materials 11(16).

Screenshot of the papers abstract.
EQUATE-funded paper selected for PRB Editors' Suggestion

A paper published in Physical Review B by Christian Binek and colleagues Syed Q.A. Shah, Ather Mahmood, and Arun Parthasarathy was selected as an Editors' Suggested article in August 2023. The paper, "Search for magnetoelectric monopole response in Cr2O3 powder," was funded in part by the NSF/EPSCoR RII Track-1: Emergent Quantum Materials and Technologies, OIA-2044049.

UNK Assistant Professor of Physics Alex Wysocki (left) and Kearney High School chemistry teacher Alison Klein collaborate on quantum materials in the summer of 2023 via an “RET” (Research Experience for Teachers) funded by the National Science Foundation via Nebraska EPSCoR. Photo by University of Nebraska at Kearney.
Quantum Leap: Kearney HS science teacher collabs with EQUATE faculty at UNK

UNK assistant professor of physics and EQUATE researcher Alex Wysocki and Kearney High School chemistry teacher Alison Klein collaborated on quantum materials in the summer of 2023 via an “RET” (Research Experience for Teachers). RETs are opportunities for teachers to use their summers to delve into science--with payment for their time--by pairing with mentors: typically, university faculty doing research in areas related to the teacher’s interest. Klein and Wysocki are working on “Lanthanide Adatoms on Graphene: Promising Spin Qubit Materials,” which fits into an EQUATE goal: to develop materials for new quantum technologies--specifically via qubits, the most basic building block in quantum systems. Wysocki added that one special feature of a qubit is that it can be in two different physical states at one time (for example: up or down in movement, or positive or negative in magnetic orientation or electrical charge).

Postdoctoral researcher Mohammadjavad Dowran works with diamond quantum sensing microscopes in Abdelghani Laraoui’s lab.
EQUATE teams develop process to better see into nanoscale

Two EQUATE-supported, multidisciplinary teams with many of the same researchers are developing processes that allow scientists to better see into the nanoscale and harness possibilities of the quantum realm. The two projects each had papers published in prestigious research journals in the same week of May.
Researchers on the first team detail their novel technique using nitrogen vacancy-based magnetometry to study the magnetic properties of individual iron-triazole spin crossover nanorods and nanoparticle clusters; their paper was published in the May 9 edition of ACS Nano.
Researchers on the second team used an emerging, ultra-thin host material to increase the brightness of single-photon emitters by 200%; their paper was published in the May 3 edition of Advanced Optical Materials.

Arjun Subedi
Subedi selected for prestigious AVS national student award

Arjun Subedi, a Ph.D. graduate student with Peter Dowben's group has been named one of eight finalists for the 2023 AVS National Student Awards. The Awards include a cash award, a certificate, and reimbursed travel expenses to attend the AVS 69th International Symposium and Exhibition in Portland, Oregon, November 5-10, 2023. The title of Subedi's abstract is Temperature Dependent Magnetic and Electronic Properties of NiCo2O4 Thin Film Surfaces.

NRIC 2023 poster award recipients included (from left) Kun Wang, Kai Huang, Ufuk Kilic, and Jia Wang.
Annual conference advances EQUATE research

The 2023 Nebraska Research and Innovation Conference (NRIC) on March 17 gathered nearly 100 attendees, including dozens from the Emergent Quantum Materials and Technologies (EQUATE) project. Speakers for this year’s NRIC event came from across the nation to share their expertise on Topology and Valley-Driven Quantum Phenomena. The event’s poster sessions also featured nearly 40 presentations of research by Nebraska’s EQUATE students and postdoctoral researchers. Photo caption: NRIC 2023 poster award recipients included (from left) Kun Wang, Kai Huang, Ufuk Kilic, and Jia Wang.

UNL physicist Robert Streubel was named an Emerging Investigator in 2023 by RSC Nanoscale. His work on the electronic structure of cobalt valence tautomeric molecules in different environments was featured as a cover image in the journal.
FRG1’s Streubel among 2023’s “Emerging Investigators” by RSC Nanoscale

Robert Streubel, assistant professor with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Physics and Astronomy, was recognized by the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Nanoscale as one of approximately 100 “rising stars of nanoscience and nanotechnology research.” Streubel is part of EQUATE’s Focused Research Group 1 team; his research on the electronic structure of cobalt valence tautomeric molecules in different environments—a collaboration with EQUATE colleagues Peter Dowben, Rebecca Lai and others--was featured in the journal’s special edition. Click here to read the study.

Evgeny Tsymbal.
Atom-thin walls could smash size, memory barriers in next-gen devices

Evgeny Tsymbal and an international team have demonstrated how to construct, control and explain the oxygen-deprived walls of a nanoscopically thin material suited to next-gen electronics. These walls can talk in several electronic dialects that could allow the devices housing them to store even more data and they can retain their data states even if their devices turn off. Tsymbal's team published its findings in the journal Nature. (2/13/23)

Topology and Valley-Driven Quantum Phenomena.
Nebraska EQUATE invites its participants and partners to learn and network to advance quantum science innovation

The 2023 Nebraska Research and Innovation Conference (NRIC) -- Topology and Valley-Driven Quantum Phenomena -- will take place Friday, March 17, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown Lincoln. This all-day meeting includes invited speakers and poster sessions with EQUATE students and post-doctoral researchers.

Photos of Mohammad Ghashami on left and Martin Centurion on right.
EQUATE awards SEED grants

Mohammad Ghashami, mechanical and materials engineering, and Martin Centurion, physics and astronomy, were both recently awarded SEED grants from the Emergent Quantum Materials and Technologies project to study quantum topics in their work. Centurion's project is titled: Characterization of the ultrafast structural response in photoexcite materials. Ghashami's project is titled: Quantum Size Effect on Radiative and Electronic Transport.

Photos of Christian Binek on left and Jeff Shield on right.
Scilight: Iron nanoparticles boost magnetocaloric effect

A paper authored by Chrisitan Binek, Jeff Shield, and colleagues from North Carolina A&T (NCAT) was recently published in the Journal of Applied Physics. The article "Large refrigerant capacity in superparamagnetic iron nanoparticles embedded in a thin film matrix" was also chosen by AIP's editors to be featured in a "Scilight" - a science highlight showcasing the most interesting research published in AIP Publishing Journals. Relatedly, NCAT was also recently awarded a $10 million grant from the Department of Energy to establish a center focused on clean energy initiatives led by paper co-author Dhananjay Kumar.

Cover of the October 2022 edition of the Journal of Applied Physics accompanied by photos of Xia Hong and Mathias Schubert.
Teamwork by Hong and Schubert leads investigation of remote surface optical phonon scattering in ferroelectric oxide-gated graphene

The October 2022 edition of the Journal of Applied Physics features research from a collaboration led by EQUATE physicist Xia Hong and engineer Mathias Schubert. Their study reveals the room temperature mobility limit in graphene imposed by the ferroelectric oxide gate, providing important material information for designing high-performance ferroelectric/graphene transistors for high frequency, low power nanoelectronic applications. Learn more at

Top portion of the flyer announcing NCMN's $500,000 award from NSF.
NSF Funds NV Quantum Sensing Capabilities for NCMN Attocube System

The Nebraska Center for Materials and Nanoscience (NCMN) is pleased to announce that the National Science Foundation has decided to fund its Major Research Instrumentation proposal, "Acquisition of optical access in a cryogenic scanning probe microscope for quantum sensing capabilities." This instrument will leverage the existing scanning probe microscopy capabilities at NCMN and add the first commercial quantum sensing device to the set of characterization facilities at NCMN. There are only a few instruments of this kind available throughout the country. The EQUATE researchers behind this project are PI Christian Binek and co-PI's Xia Hong, Abdelghani Laraoui, and Xiaoshan Xu.
We can’t wait to set the system up and see it producing scientific results. (8/18/22)

Wei Bao in his lab.
New device gets scientists closer to quantum materials breakthrough

Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a new photonic device that could get scientists closer to the “holy grail” of finding the global minimum of mathematical formulations at room temperature. Finding that elusive mathematical value would be a major advancement in opening new options for simulations involving quantum materials. Wei Bao is the corresponding author of a paper reporting this research, published in Nature Materials. (6/17/22)

Graphic representation showing how hyperbolic shear polaritons are coupled with light-matter waves.
Schubert’s idea grows into discovery of new material class

A study published six years ago by Mathias Schubert planted the seeds for what grew into an international collaboration and the discovery of a new material class that could impact the future of emerging biotechnology and nanotechnology. Schubert and his colleagues had their latest paper, Hyperbolic shear polaritons in low-symmetry crystals, published in Nature. The group believes their results “will motivate new directions for polariton physics … greatly expanding the material base and extending design opportunities for compact photonic devices.”

A nanoscale rendering of two materials, graphene (gray) and chromium oxide (blue), that collectively allowed researchers from Nebraska and Buffalo to fabricate a new type of transistor.
Nebraska, Buffalo researchers create first magneto-electric transistor

Christian Binek, Peter Dowben, Will Echtenkamp, Ather Mahmood, and colleagues from the University at Buffalo have teamed up to fabricate a new type of transistor that could curb energy consumption of microelectronics and reduce the number of transistors needed to store certain data by as much as 75%. This new transistor could cut 5 percent from the world's digital energy budget while also saving space and retaining memory in the event of a power loss.

Christos Argyropoulos.
Argyropoulos paper featured on cover of Nanoscale

Christos Argyropoulos and graduate students Boyuan Jin and Dhananjay Mishra published an article titled ‘‘Efficient Single-Photon Pair Generation by Spontaneous Parametric Down-Conversion in Nonlinear Plasmonic Metasurfaces” in the journal Nanoscale. Journal editors selected the paper to be featured on the cover, an honor given to the best papers of each issue.

Wei Bao in his lab.
Bao's CAREER Award supports work to make quantum simulators function at room temperature

Quantum simulators are key tools in the study of quantum systems, but their use is limited because they must operate with bulky ultra-low-temperature vacuum systems beyond the capacity of many research labs. With a five-year, $756,713 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program, Wei Bao hopes to find a way to make those simulators function at room temperature; this would greatly expand the scope and accessibility of work with quantum simulators.

Image of Ralph Skomskii on a black groundground, with white text stating his name and year of birth and death (1961-2022).
Mourning the death of Ralph Skomski

Dr. Ralph Skomski suddenly passed away at home on April 10. Skomski was a gifted theoretical researcher, publishing over 425 papers, books, and book chapters in his career. He was a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of the Editorial Boards of IEEE Magn. Lett., J. Phys. D and J. Magn. Magn. Mater. Skomski began working at UNL as a Visiting Assistant Professor in 1998. He was promoted to Research Assistant Professor in 2000, Research Associate Professor in 2003, and Research Full Professor in 2012. He was an active researcher working for many years with Professor David Sellmyer. (4/19/22)

2022 Nebraska Research and Innovation Conference (NRIC) event is April 14 at Lincoln's Embassy Suites hotel. Sessions' topics focus on Commercializing Quantum Science in Nebraska.
2022 NRIC Event Focuses on Commercializing Quantum Science in Nebraska

Nebraska EPSCoR is sponsoring its annual Nebraska Research and Innovation Conference (NRIC) to provide our research community the opportunity to elevate their work with expert speaker sessions plus networking during lunch and a poster session. The 2022 NRIC theme is Commercializing Quantum Technologies in Nebraska: From Research To Licensing.

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Young Nebraska Scientists celebrate an achievement with a group high-five during a Summer 2021 camp at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
Applications open for Young Nebraska Scientists programs

Applications are open for Young Nebraska Scientists (YNS) summer programs throughout the state in 2022, including day camps for middle school students and residential or virtual camps for high school students. Visit for more information and to apply. Applications are due by May 1.

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Xia Hong.
Second "Nano Matters" podcast interview of Xia Hong released

In this episode of the “Nano Matters” podcast, Xia Hong, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, describes how she and her team are creating and studying complex oxide nanostructures and interfaces for advanced electronics.

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EQUATE leaders.
New data-decoding approach could lead to faster, smaller digital tech

Evgeny Tsymbal, Ding-Fu Shao and their colleagues have charged to the forefront of spintronics, a next-gen class of data storage and processing poised to complement the digital electronics that have ruled the realm of high tech for decades. Ahead of that future, though, loom nanoscale obstacles whose size belies their difficulty. With the wind of a $20 million National Science Foundation grant at their back, the physicists may be on their way to surmounting an especially tricky one: finding order amid disorder and data amid seeming disarray. Beyond that obstacle lie two prizes, density and speed, that could make modern-day devices look gluttonous and sloth-like in hindsight.

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EQUATE leaders.
2020-2021 Nebraska Research Report: Advancing the Second Quantum Revolution

A five-year, $20 million award from the National Science Foundation’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research is positioning the University of Nebraska and partnering institutions to lead a second quantum revolution. It creates the Emergent Quantum Materials and Technologies collaboration, a research and education cluster to boost the state’s capacity and competitiveness in the field. A Research Infrastructure Improvement-Track 1 award supports the project.

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Christian Binek standing in a lab surrounded by research equipment.
Binek to present at Sigma Xi's Science Cafe at UNK on 1/31

Christian Binek's presentation introduces and highlights the peculiarities of the second quantum revolution by contrasting it with the more familiar first quantum revolution, which gave rise to much of today’s high-technology. The presenter will provide examples for the theory-guided search, fabrication and characterization of emergent quantum materials and show how they enable quantum technologies with applications in sensing, communication, medicine, banking and national security. He will also highlight the specific role Nebraska’s EQUATE center plays in this global megatrend, which includes the race for quantum supremacy of future quantum computers.

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Nebraska EPSCoR logo.
EQUATE enables second 2021 cohort of Nebraska EPSCoR FIRST Award recipients

In 2021, Nebraska EPSCoR was able to support two cohorts of FIRST Award recipients—one set funded in January by the NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement programs’ Track-1 Center for Root and Rhizobiome Innovation (CRRI), and another group in November that was funded by Nebraska’s new Track-1 Emergent Quantum Materials and Technologies, “EQUATE.”

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Siamak Nejati on left and Yanan (Laura) Wang on right.
EQUATE Awards SEED Grants

In October 2021, two Nebraska scientists were awarded SEED grants from the EQUATE project to study quantum topics in their research. Funding of $56,000 for each selected topic comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF) via Nebraska’s NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 project, “Emergent Quantum Materials and Technologies (EQUATE)".

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Visual graphic of a quantum
NSF advances Nebraska's quantum research capabilities

The National Science Foundation is advancing quantum research through an investment of $20 million, over five years, to Nebraska through NSF’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research... José Colom-Ustáriz, an NSF EPSCoR program director said, "This project furthers Nebraska’s strategic priority to advance knowledge in quantum phenomena. It has the potential to benefit society through research outcomes, workforce development and STEM education and training, specifically in Native American and rural communities." "

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Binary code
'Silicon Prairie' Ready for Quantum Leap

"The National Science Foundation is betting on the Cornhusker State to help lead a high-stakes era of innovation as America gets ready for next-generation computer and security technology."

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Group photo of the EQUATE leaders
Nebraska research collaborative to study quantum materials through $20M grant

"Through a five-year, $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation's Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research — better known as EPSCoR — a total of 20 researchers and educators will work to push the field of quantum materials forward."

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