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New Master’s Programme in Quantum Information Technologies Opening at HSE MIEM

Konstantin Arutyunov, Professor at the School of Electronic Engineering of HSE Tikhonov Moscow Institute of Electronics and Mathematics, discusses what the new programme offers its students and why the future lies with quantum technologies.

When Classical Physics Doesn’t Work

The devices that allow information to be transferred, stored, and processed require constant upgrades and improvements, but this process has its limitations. Some of these restrictions can be overcome using certain tricks, such as multiplexing and parallel signal processing. But all of the world’s top experts in the field of micro- and nanotechnologies are of the opinion that very soon – according to certain forecasts, in 2017-2018 – it will no longer be possible to further increase the level of integration of commercial nanoelectronics.

One of the reasons for this is more fundamental. When certain sizes are achieved, the current flow in subminiature components no longer follows the laws of classical physics, and the qualitatively newer quantum phenomena that break the device’s normal working mode start to play a role. A typical example of such quantum phenomena is the decrease in electrical conductivity before being moved to an insulating state. But the same ‘quantum’ characteristics can be used to develop qualitatively new principles for electronic systems – for example, to build new-generation quantum logical elements like qubits, which are based on information transfer, processing, and storage principles that are qualitatively different from classical principles.

Quantum information science is a newer discipline that is growing rapidly. This affects both the number of specialists capable of teaching it, as well as the level of preparation students are able to achieve in undergrad. But we have found a solution to these problems

The basis of such devices is formed by the laws of quantum physics, laws that open up completely new opportunities in fields such as information science, telecommunications, metrology, and computer engineering. Quantum information technology also opens up new horizons for fundamental research in a wide array of disciplines that until recently were considered to have nothing in common with one another – linguistics and quantum cryptography and neurosurgery and quantum informatics.

Our students will gain the knowledge and skills needed to conduct this kind of research. In addition, we have intentionally made this an English-taught programme, as this is the language that the natural sciences and engineering sciences ‘speak.’ Our graduates will be able to fully carry on professional conversations and scientific discussions as they present the results of their work to their colleagues all over the world.

How Learning Takes Place

The programme includes core classes and electives covering fields such as micro- and nanoelectronics, quantum mechanics, photonics, metamaterials, superconductivity, information networks and systems, and more. Particular attention will be paid to applied math, which students need in order to use specialised mathematics devices.

Quantum information science is a newer discipline that is growing rapidly. This affects both the number of specialists capable of teaching it, as well as the level of preparation students are able to achieve in undergrad. But we have found a solution to these problems. On the one hand, we have come up with a set of introductory courses that allow students who completed a basic undergraduate programme to effectively prepare for more complex, specialised disciplines. On the other hand, invited lecturers, who are leaders and top researchers in their fields, teach the specialised courses.

A significant portion of the programme consists of practicums connected with the technology used to prepare and microscopically analyse nano-sized systems. These classes will take place in the laboratories of the joint faculties and HSE MIEM’s partner research organisations.

Our ‘ideal applicant’ is someone with a bachelor’s degree in the natural sciences who has taken core courses in physics and higher mathematics. In addition, they should be motivated to learn from not only the thick textbooks that still don’t really exist in our discipline, but also first-hand from world-renowned specialists in the field

Our students will have access to the resources and equipment of the Quantum Optics and Telecommunications Joint Department with Skontel, the All-Russian Research Institute for Optical and Physical Measurements joint department, the Research Institute of Communication and Control Systems (NIISSU), the Rocket and Space Corporation Energia, and the laboratories of the Kapitza Institute for Physical Problems.

What Kind of Students Should Apply

We were happy to see radio and computer hardware engineers and designers; engineers from the radio-electronic systems, information technology, and security systems services; and specialists from laboratories in the fields of nanotechnology, cryptography, metrology and informatics.

But overall, our ‘ideal applicant’ is someone with a bachelor’s degree in the natural sciences who has taken core courses in physics and higher mathematics. In addition, they should be motivated to learn from not only the thick textbooks that still don’t really exist in our discipline, but also first-hand from world-renowned specialists in the field.

We also hope that the programme appeals to international students as well. We are confident in our ability to offer students from all over the world – the CIS, Far East, India, and Southern and Eastern Europe – a top-notch education at a competitive price. After studying here, it is certain that they will be able to find a job at an international company.

What Happens After the Master’s Programme

The trajectory of the Quantum Information Technologies master’s programme will allow graduates to find work at a broad array of research organisations, including the academic institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the international research centres CERN and EASA, and national research organisations such as CNRS (France) or DFG (Germany). And, of course, we would love for our master’s students to stick around the Higher School of Economics for a while longer to go on into a PhD programme.

But our students will also be able to embark on a professional career trajectory as well. Their knowledge and skills will be sought after by research and design organisations in Russia’s defence, aerospace, radio-electronic, and nuclear industries, as well as by large international companies working on information technologies, D-Wave Systems and Google being just two examples.

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