KNI-Wheatley Scholars

The KNI-Wheatley Scholar in Nanoscience was established in 2016 as a result of a generous endowment from Caltech alumni Chuck Wheatley and his wife Judy. This new initiative provides $25,000 of seed funding to one tenure-track faculty member selected among candidates nominated by Division Chairs and the KNI Board members at Caltech. Early stage proof-of-concept demonstrations are often difficult to support. As envisioned, this unrestricted funding will allow junior faculty in nanoscience the flexibility to pursue novel research ideas.

Mohammad Mirhosseni

2022 KNI-Wheatley Scholar

Mohammad Mirhosseini

Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics

Mohammad Mirhosseini has been selected as the 2022 KNI-Wheatley Scholar in Nanoscience for his proposal to develop on-chip transducers that provide optical interconnects for superconducting qubits, one of the leading platforms for quantum computers.

Mirhosseini's project will focus on fabricating MEMS transducers that are embedded with optomechanical devices to form a microwave-optical frequency converter to allow for extremely low acoustic and microwave loss tangents. The fabrication of such devices will, in large part, take place using instrumentation in the KNI Lab, and will then be tested in a dilution refrigerator at Mirhosseini’s lab.

Mirhosseini's work will contribute to expanding the knowledge base within KNI and at Caltech by developing recipes for depositing high-quality metal nitride films of NbN, TiN, and NbTiN. Beyond the intended areas of application in quantum computing, this capability has the potential to benefit other research groups that work on single-photon detection (SNSPDs), amplifiers for dark matter search, mm-wave detectors for astronomy, and plasmonics.


Scott Cushing

2021 KNI-Wheatley Scholar

Scott Cushing

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Scott Cushing was named the 2021 KNI-Wheatley Scholar in Nanoscience for his proposal to develop entangled photon sources capable of exploiting quantum advantages in multiphoton nonlinear spectroscopy. Cushing and his team plan to achieve this goal by using a completely nanofabricated on-chip form factor, making potential inclusion in mobile or weight sensitive spectroscopy applications possible. Through this effort, Cushing's research will help to create further improvements in the capabilities of LN fabrication at Caltech. His project will also foster new growth in deep UV-NIR wavelength regimes and spur on new research avenues within Caltech's photonics and quantum communities.

The Cushing research group specializes in the development of spectroscopic techniques that can answer materials and physical chemistry questions. Two of the group's main focus areas are 1) renewable energy systems: transient XUV spectroscopy has been used to understand how polarons mediate photochemistry, to measure hole transport layer by layer in protected photoelectrodes, and is now being used to study ion migration in battery and membrane materials; and 2) entangled photon interactions: studying how the stimuli-response relationships of chemical and biological systems can be incorporated in quantum computing, information, or bio-sensing applications. Entangled light-matter interactions are also used to study correlated phenomena in condensed matter systems.



Alireza Marandi

2019-2020 KNI-Wheatley Scholar

Alireza Marandi

Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics

Alireza Marandi was named the 2019 KNI-Wheatley Scholar in Nanoscience for his proposal to develop and study resonator-based quadratically nonlinear nanophotonic devices. Introducing strong quadratic nonlinearities to photonics can enable development of disruptive technologies for numerous applications. This is evident from more than 50 years of table-top nonlinear optics, through which a wide range of optical systems with extraordinary performance has been demonstrated for applications ranging from sensing to computing. Marandi's project is focused on bringing the depth and breadth of such functionalities to the nanoscale integrated photonics and enabling scalable solutions for a variety of applications.

Marandi's research group is focused on fundamental technological developments in nonlinear photonics enabling innovative, practical, and scalable solutions for these challenges. His team explores the frontiers of ultrafast optics, optical frequency combs, quantum optics, optical information processing, mid-infrared photonics, and laser spectroscopy. In their research, they use state-of-the-art laser systems, micro and nano fabrication tools and techniques, unconventional materials, and numerical and theoretical techniques. While their main goal is experimental realization of novel nonlinear photonic systems, techniques, and technologies, they also work on advancing the theoretical understanding of these systems as well as applying their solutions to real-life problems.

Watch Dr. Marandi's Earnest C. Watson lecture on the developments and outcomes of his research here.



2018 KNI-Wheatley Scholar Stevan Nadj-Perge

2017-2018 KNI-Wheatley Scholar

Stevan Nadj-Perge

Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science

Stevan Nadj-Perge was named the 2017 KNI-Wheatley Scholar in Nanoscience for his proposal to develop a novel nanofabrication technique to integrate atomic size objects, such as atomic chains, into superconducting interferometer devices. This research is a part of a broader effort in his lab to establish experimental protocols for controlling the so-called Majorana bound states (MBSs) formed in atomic chains that are placed on the surface of a superconductor, where the Majorana states refer the zero energy excitations localized at the edges of one-dimensional topological superconductors that are predicted to exhibit non-Abelian statistics upon exchange and are considered to be a starting point for realization of topological quantum bits (qubits).

The Nadj-Perge lab is interested in developing mesoscopic devices for applications in quantum information processing. Such devices also provide a playground for exploring exotic electronic states at (sub)-nano length scales. The primary experimental approaches for the research involve scanning tunneling microscopy and electrical transport measurement techniques at cryogenic temperatures.

Stevan Nadj-Perge gave an Earnest C. Watson lecture on his related work, entitled, "Opportunities in Atomic-Scale Legoland: From Novel Electronic Phases to Quantum Devices." Watch the full lecture here.



Andrei Faraon

2016-2017 KNI-Wheatley Scholar

Andrei Faraon

Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science

Andrei Faraon was named the 2016 KNI-Wheatley Scholar in Nanoscience for his proposal to study the disruptive potential of metasurfaces and their potential use in novel optical imaging systems. The research will be conducted in collaboration with researchers at Harvard, UCLA and Johns Hopkins. The topics that Faraon is studying include holographic microscopy, 3D microscopy, neural imaging and wide-field magnetrometry.

The Faraon Lab develops nano-photonic quantum technologies for devices that operate close to the fundamental limit of light-matter interaction. Quantum photonics applications include on-chip optical quantum memories, single optically-addressable quantum bits, quantum conversion of photons in different bands of the electromagnetic spectrum. Classical nano-photonics applications include micron-thick optical devices for free-space optics, ultra-fast optical beam steering, ultra-compact microscopy.

Andrei Faraon gave an Earnest C. Watson lecture on his related work, entitled, "Flat Metasurface Optics." Watch the full lecture here.