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Sussex quantum physicist recognised for public engagement

Professor Winfried Hensinger (pictured) and his team of physicists took their pop-up quantum computing laboratory to Spitalfields Market in London.

A Sussex scientist has been recognised for his team’s work to engage the public with their research on quantum physics.

Winfried Hensinger, Professor of Quantum Technologies and Director of the Sussex Centre for Quantum Technologies, was highly commended by the South East Physics Network (SEPnet) for the installation last summer of an innovative pop-up lab.

The lab was created to educate the public about a large-scale quantum computer being developed by Professor Hensinger and his team of physicists.

Visitors were able to see the four key elements that make up this incredible machine, which is set to be the most powerful computer in the world. They were also treated to a widescreen video projection of the quantum computing laboratory at Sussex, accompanied by an immersive soundscape.

In July the pop-up lab was taken to London’s Spitalfields Market, and during the British Science Festival in September it was located on the University’s Falmer campus.

Lead organiser of the project was Sarah Ross, Head of Campaigns in the Communications and External Affairs division at Sussex. The Widening Participation team were on hand to show school students that physics can be cool.

One visitor said: “My five-year-old son loved the exhibits, especially the one where a ping‑pong ball was used to demonstrate how charged particles are trapped.”

Another member of the public added: “The lab was fascinating. I really enjoyed finding out what the computers of the future might look like.”

As a result of this public outreach, Professor Hensinger and the project team were highly commended for the Communication Award in the SEPnet Public Engagement Awards and were also shortlisted for the Project Innovation Award.

And the SEPnet judges were so impressed with the Sussex initiative, Professor Hensinger was invited to give a presentation about it at the awards ceremony on 29 November.

He says: “It was brilliant to be able to speak to such a wide cross-section of society about our plans to build a quantum computer.

“I had some fascinating conversations, there was a lot of excitement and we were able to help people understand this technology that could have a massive impact on our lives in future.”

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Posted on behalf of: Department of Physics and Astronomy
Last updated: Friday, 18 May 2018

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