In The Trenches
Although a lot of the credit for quantum computing (QC) companies’ rise to prominence goes to the founders and CEOs (rightly so), when you really think about it a lot of the seminal work gets done in the trenches with the design and application of the hardware or software products — this is especially pertinent when it comes to full-stack companies that offer a wide range of solutions to end-users like IBM, Google, Honeywell, Microsoft etc, as well as from the smaller players such as D-Wave Systems, Rigetti Computing, Xanadu, Cambridge Quantum Computing, Oxford Quantum Circuits, 1QBit, Origin Quantum Computing, and PsiQuantum.
In the hardware sector, specialists are required with the right skillsets to build the hardware out and test it before it becomes a product.
These job titles have different names like Control and Error Correction Researchers, Superconducting Qubit Researchers, Quantum Cryogenic Engineers, Microwave Engineers, and Quantum FPGA Engineers.
At every startup, at every multinational, they have different names, but give or take a few responsibilities in line with the scope of the specific job in question, they do similar things whether the quantum approach is superconducting, trapped ions, silicon-based, photonics or any of the other, new and exciting ways found in manipulating qubits to send information.
TQD will now highlight some of those people “in the trenches” of quantum computing, the “Hardware Heroes” who, as children, probably loved taking things apart to see what was inside in order to see how they worked. These are the hardware engineers and specialists of our industry.
In all, I have profiled 112 of these individuals. Some are academics, professors or post-docs with a practical scientific bent to go along with their deep theoretical knowledge; others, engineers with lots of hands-on experience handy with a screwdriver and a pair of wire cutters.
As always, the list is non-exhaustive (how could it be anything else!) and because I have had to leave a lot out, I have an Honourable Mentions list at the bottom of the final post of nearly 70 individuals who are great too but I had neither the time nor the space to include them.
Again, the hardware specialists listed come from different companies, though some — working for the likes of ColdQuanta, Oxford Quantum Circuits and Zurich Instruments — had many more people working in hardware specializations than in other companies and this was one of the reasons I covered them.
The big players like IBM, Google and Microsoft were an exception — of course, these companies have dozens and dozens of hardware specialists — some even hundreds of employees, and it would have been impossible for me to cover them all. That is why, in fairness, I listed one or two for each company, respectively. These you shall find at the end of the list.
Because of the length of this piece (close to 13,000 words), we have decided to publish it as eight separate posts. Today’s: 1–14, will then be followed by seven more: 15–28, 29–42, 43–56, 57–70, 71–84, 85–98 and finally, 99–112.
*All data correct as of late September 2021
1. Paul Magnard: Quantum Engineer, Alice & Bob
We’ll kick off the list with Paul Magnard, a Quantum Engineer at French quantum startup Alice & Bob.
An expert in quantum information processing with superconducting circuits, Magnard obtained his Ph.D. from ETH Zürich in Experimental Quantum Information Processing.
His research publications include Engineering cryogenic setups for 100-qubit scale superconducting circuit systems Fast and Unconditional All-Microwave Reset of a Superconducting Qubit.
2. Felix Rautschke: Microwave Engineer, Alice & Bob
Felix Rautschke is a Lead Microwave Engineer at Alice & Bob.
Rautschke received his Ph.D. in RF Power Amplifier Design from the Berlin Institute of Technology where he researched the development of active and passive circuits for high-frequency applications between 2 and 14 GHz, with a particular focus on the design, assembling and measurement of power amplifiers based on gallium nitride HEMTs (bare die and packed devices) in hybrid technology.
3. Ephraim Dobbins: SVP Engineering, Aliro
In the role since April 2021, Ephraim Dobbins is SVP Engineering at Boston-based quantum networks for ultra-secure communication startup, Aliro.
Dobbins has led engineering teams across a variety of startups for more than two decades. These roles have included Vice President, Engineering and Co-founder at Plexxi, as well as the Vice President of Engineering at Acme Packet where he was responsible for the design and development of the company product set.
Prior to that, Dobbins spent five years at Bay Networks (now Nortel) where he built a team and led the design and development of a set of next-generation routers. Ephraim is the primary author of two patent applications and the co-author of four patent applications in the telecommunications field. Ephraim holds a BS in Applied Mathematics with University Honors from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA from the University of Massachusetts.
4. Andrew Kortyna: Physicist, ColdQuanta
An experimentalist in atomic, molecular, and optical physics with an extensive record of using high-precision laser spectroscopy to address research questions in physics and chemistry, Andrew Kortyna is the first of a plethora of employees working in hardware at cold atom quantum technology company ColdQuanta. Along with his duties there, he is a Group Collaborator at JILA.
His interests lie in understanding the details of atomic and molecular structures and the interaction between light and matter. His management responsibilities have included supervising 24 research assistants. Kortyna’s laboratory skills include the design, maintenance, and use of scientific instrumentation, CW and pulsed lasers (IR, visible, UV, and VUV), interferometers, optics and nonlinear optics, RF and microwave photonics, high and ultra-high vacuum equipment, molecular beams sources, mass spectrometers, single-particle/single-photon detectors, near shot-noise limited signal detection, and electronics while his computers skills include using of programing languages, writing and running simulations, conducting ab initio calculations, analyzing data, instrumentation control, and computer-aided design.
At ColdQuanta, Kortyna focuses on the R&D of portable, high-precision microwave and optical clocks based on ultra-cold atom technology. He also has primary responsibility for operating and maintaining the atomic clock R&D laboratory at the company, including designing and building scientific apparatus, evaluating custom instrumentation, collecting and analyzing data, and running simulations.
Kortyna has a Ph.D. in Physics from Wesleyan University.
5. Brendan Paver: Junior Engineer, ColdQuanta
Brendan Paver is a Junior Engineer at ColdQuanta. His duties include providing a wide range of engineering support for complex systems that enable quantum experimentation and product development. (Mechanical Design, Optical System Design, Software Development).
Paver has a BS in Engineering Physics from the Colorado School of Mines. During his time there, he designed and manufactured a telescope and adjustable and electronically controlled mount, was a Mines Undergraduate Research Fellow working with simulation techniques on atom probe field evaporation, a Peer Educator assisting fellow students in gaining a fundamental understanding of the material they are studying, as well as teaching systematic approaches to problem-solving, and designed an Incoherent light SPIFI (Spatial Frequency Modulation for Imaging) system, all things that could be invaluable for his work at ColdQuanta.
6. Chris Sheridan: Multidisciplinary Hardware Design Engineer, ColdQuanta
A Multidisciplinary Hardware Design Engineer at ColdQuanta, Chris Sheridan is an engineer with a history of successful innovation and leadership in the fields of high-voltage lithium-ion battery packs, battery management systems, machine vision systems, mechanical, electrical and optical design.
Prior to ColdQuanta, Sheridan had almost two decades’ experience as a Lead Systems Engineer and Project Manager, a consultant in independent product testing for battery-related projects — including design of experiment, data acquisition setup, post-test data analysis, and reporting — and as an electrical engineer.
Sheridan has a BA in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder.
7. Cornelis Ravensbergen: Quantum Physicist, ColdQuanta
Based in the UK, Cornelis Ravensbergen is a Quantum Physicist at ColdQuanta.
During his time as a Ph.D. student of Physics in Innsbruck, Austria, Ravensbergen planned, designed and constructed a novel ultracold atomic mixture experiment with fermionic dysprosium and potassium. “A very challenging, but extremely rewarding project”, in his own words, Ravensbergen and his research colleagues at Leopold-Franzens Universität Innsbruck were able to discover and characterize a promising inter-species Feshbach resonance.
Ravensbergen really enjoys solving complex design problems and making them work reliably by applying new technologies, novel thinking and thorough research, so his skills are definitely a benefit to ColdQuanta.
8. Edward Dahl: Director of Quantum Applications, ColdQuanta
Edward — Denny to his friends — Dahl is Director of Quantum Applications at ColdQuanta, a role he has been in since 2020.
Before ColdQuanta, Dahl worked for quantum computing systems and software company D-Wave Systems Inc, where he was a Senior Research Scientist and Principal Research Scientist, respectively.
A trusted, analytical thinker trained in the hard sciences, noted for deep experience in emerging technologies and innovative contributions in advanced system development, Dahl possesses an ability to synthesize, summarize and clearly communicate cutting edge research, foresee trends and opportunities that can transform and optimize computational infrastructure.
Respected for his leadership in the understanding and application of massively parallel computation, neural networks, distributed data flow computation models and quantum computing, Dahl can apply visionary foresight in predicting and assessing the impact of advances in these fields while drawing on experience with ground-breaking companies, bringing strong analytical and evaluation skills to the task of guiding and informing complex decision making.
Dahl’s strong collaborative style uses logic and foresight to identify technology trends and guide opportunities for product development and improvement and he is able to articulate complex technical issues and focus organizational efforts on breakthrough areas.
An excellent team builder with an emphasis on innovative solutions, all the traits above are a sure indicator ColdQuanta quantum applications are in good hands.
Dahl obtained a Ph.D. in Physics from Stanford University.
9. Eric Magnuson, Research Scientist, ColdQuanta
Currently a researcher in atomic, molecular, and optical physics, Eric Magnuson is a Scientist at ColdQuanta interested in pursuing a career in R&D.
A self-directed problem solver and an expert in data science, experimental technique and design, and optical systems, Magnuson obtained his Ph.D. in Atomic Physics from the University of Virginia. During his Ph.D., he investigated the validity of a model description of how high lying Rydberg atoms interact with microwave fields, in the regime where discrete bound quantum states transition to an unbound continuum.
10. Eric Copenhaver (He/Him) Quantum Physicist, ColdQuanta
With a background in harnessing simple quantum systems spans optics, electronics, sensors, and analysis, Eric Copenhaver is a Quantum Physicist at ColdQuanta.
Having spent the last few years building an atom interferometer, which uses diode lasers to cool out the motion of atoms and puts their quantum wave-like nature to work for precision metrology, Copenhaver has also worked with lasers and optics to work in imaging biologically relevant chemical (proteins) and electrical (neurons) signals.
Copenhaver is an avid communicator of science, having authored blog posts, spoken publicly numerous times, performed radio interviews, and published the occasional YouTube video.
He has a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley.
11. Gabriel Ycas: Quantum Engineer, ColdQuanta
Gabriel Ycas is a Quantum Engineer and research scientist at ColdQuanta focused on the development of optical spectroscopy systems utilizing laser frequency combs.
As a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Nist, Ycas designed and constructed mid-infrared difference-frequency generation-based combs and implemented a real-time digital signal processing system in FPGA hardware. Using this system, the team performed mid-infrared dual-comb spectroscopy of large molecules for the first time.
Ycas has a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Colorado Boulder.
12. Haoquan Fan: Physicist, ColdQuanta
Haoquan Fan, a Physicist at ColdQuanta with more than ten years of experience in cutting-edge atomic and optical physics, quantum physics, is an expert on spectroscopy, laser and optics.
He has extensive experience in designing and constructing complex optical and mechanical systems, such as Littrow external cavity semiconducting lasers, ultra-stable optical cavity with ultra-low expanding materials in high vacuum.
With a Ph.D. in Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics from the University of Oklahoma, Haoquan Fan’s postdoctoral research at the University of Maryland included building and constructing laser optics systems, electronic control systems, cryogenic systems, digital signal processing systems from an empty lab space and designing experiment principles on coherence processing of rare earth crystals at nano-scale, obtaining the narrowest electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT) window.
13. Hugo Leon: Lead R&D Engineer, ColdQuanta
With experience as a programmer analyst and research and design engineer for over a decade, Hugo Leon is a Lead R&D Engineer at ColdQuanta.
A passionate multidisciplinary engineer with over a decade of experience, Leon’s expertise ranges from the design of robotic systems to the construction of bio-medical products.
He obtained his Materials Science and Engineering (MatSE) Degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
14. Jeremy Bogulski: Engineer, ColdQuanta
Jeremy Bogulski is an Engineer at ColdQuanta responsible for the design and manufacture of laser cooling hardware. Prior to this role, he was a Technician at the company facilitating the manufacture of atom trapping devices.
An experienced optical designer with a deep knowledge of the manufacturing process working in the optics and photonics industry, Bogulski has a BS in Engineering Physics from the Colorado School of Mines.
Part Two coming soon!
The Quantum Insider (TQI)
Just in case this list hasn’t satisfied your cravings for data on hardware specialists in the quantum space, you can pop on over to The Quantum Insider (TQI), TQD’s very own data platform. Here you can find deep and insightful information on all aspects of the QIS industry.
TQI is an invaluable resource for journalists, researchers, investors, companies, and government agencies looking to extend their knowledge of the growing quantum tech ecosystem!
Deep Tech Insider (DTI)
Interested in other niches of deep tech? Good, TQD team has that covered, too: Check out the Deep Tech Insider, the best place for news on all that is happening in the world of deep tech.