Mikkel Heuck receives Villum Young Investigator Grant

Mikkel Heuck becomes Villum Young Investigator

Friday 22 Jan 21

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Mikkel Heuck
Senior Researcher
DTU Fotonik

About Mikkel Heuck

Mikkel Heuck is now saying goodbye to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he has been both postdoctoral fellow and research scientist. Because of the Villum Young Investigator grant, he is returning home to Denmark and DTU Fotonik, where he was both a PhD student and Postdoc. On 1 February, he will officially begin as senior researcher at DTU Fotonik.

Senior researcher at DTU Fotonik Mikkel Heuck receives a grant of DKK 6 million from The Villum Young Investigator Programme for his project "Nonlinear Photonic Devices for Quantum Networks". In this article, he answers five questions about his research.

Describe the research on which the grant is to be used?

Through both theory and experiments, we will design and test optical microchips that are capable of manipulating individual photons and control their interaction. The motivation is to harness the quantum properties of photons to form the basis for new applications such as quantum communication, sensing and computing. The exciting potential of these technologies is derived from the quantum mechanical behaviour of the constituent components, which enables e.g. unbreakable cryptography and exponential speedup of certain important computation tasks.

What does it mean for your research that you have now received the grant?

"This means fulfilling my ambition to bring my research back to Denmark"
Mikkel Heuck

First of all, it means that I will be able to return to Denmark from the USA, where I am currently working. This means fulfilling my ambition to bring my research back to Denmark and contribute to its very vibrant community of researchers working on developing quantum technologies. It also gives me the freedom to further pursue the research directions that I find most promising, relevant and exciting.

What do you hope to achieve from results and how can they be used for the benefit of society?

The devices we aim to develop through this project are intended as building blocks of quantum networks, that are able to distribute quantum information - as opposed to the internet we have today that has been very successful in distributing classical information. So you can say that it is an enabling technology, we are developing. Today, we have supercomputers and datacenters that are essentially networks of connected computers. Similarly, a quantum network will accelerate the development of quantum computers capable of supporting the discovery of e.g. new medicine in a way that current computers cannot. 

Read about the six other young DTU researchers receiving Villum Young Investigator grants for a total of DKK 46 million.

When do you expect the first results ?

On the theory side, I expect to see significant results within the first year. Experimentally, the plan is to be fully set up by the beginning of the second year and we should see results before the end of year two.

In November 2020, you received a Sapere Aude Research Leader Grant from the Independent Research Fund Denmark for your project "Nonlinear Photonic Devices for Quantum Networks". Isn’t that the same project? 

I applied for both of these grants by proposing this project to increase my probability of success. Being awarded both means I have to decide between them and the terms of the grant from the Velux Foundation are slightly more advantageous, so I am going with that.

Mikkel Heuck reacts to becoming Villum Young Investigator:  

 

About Villum Young Investigator

The Villum Young Investigator programme focuses on attracting and retaining talented young Danish and international researchers at Danish universities. The aim is to support the development of high-level international research environments in the universities. 

VILLUM FONDEN received 161 applications for the programme. The 19 researchers who made it through the eye of the needle have gone through a process of academic evaluation and interviews with the foundation’s scientific committee as well as final approval by the foundation’s board.

VILLUM FONDEN will open the next call for the programme 6 April 2021. Read more about the programme (in Danish).

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