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KHMW graduation prize for research on superconducting qubits

Matthias Flór receives the KHMW Graduation Prize in Theoretical Physics for his master's thesis. His research on exotic superconductors at Leiden University and TU Delft struck a chord with the jury. The jury unanimously chose to award Flór noting that ‘he demonstrated impressive technical abilities.’

'My research is about so-called edge vortices in superconductors. This is an exotic quasi particle that behaves just like its antiparticle,' says Flór. That's something you might recognise from the better-known Majorana particles, or Majorana zero modes to be exact. The jury praises his work: ‘Your thesis is clearly written and effectively illustrated. This resulted in a solid, very mature product in the style of a research article. We congratulate you with this achievement.’

' I learned a lot during my research project and could try out many things'

The physics student was nominated for the prize by his supervisor Carlo Beenakker of the Leiden Institute for Research in Physics (LION). Beenakker praises his student: 'Matthias has shown a great level of independence. He made a lot of progress with just a few instructions and showed much intuition in optimising the code. He also grasped the different theoretical aspects of the project very quickly and contributed valuable ideas. That is why we rewarded his thesis with the highest possible grade, a 10.'

Flór receives the award

From solid-state physics to flying qubits

The edge vortices Flór studied are very interesting to physicists, says Flór. 'Unlike Majorana zero modes, you can move these vortices in the material along a route that you decide in your experimental setup. That could be very interesting for making a quantum computer. You might then be able to make a qubit that moves around: a flying qubit.' 

'In my thesis research, we wanted to discover whether such edge vortices could really exist if they were made within a short time,' says Flór. 'After a year of work, the answer was: yes, under certain conditions.'

For Flór, his master's research was a gratifying introduction to doing research. In fact, he liked it so much that he is continuing with a PhD in Sweden. 'I found it particularly fun and exciting to find out how things work and to really work together in a team. Because this was new territory for our research group, I learned a lot and could try out many things. I am very happy that my thesis has won an award and proud that the jury also thought this was an interesting subject'.

Multiple awardees among Leiden students

The  Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW) awards graduation prizes to outstanding students in all STEM fields. Flór receives prize money of 3,000 euros for his thesis 'Dynamical edge-vortex excitations: Injection, braiding and detection'. In addition, incentive prizes have also been awarded to nine first-year students from Leiden with the best results of their study programmes:

  • Nataliia Bagan - Artificial Intelligence
  • Lorenzo Costa - Biology
  • Femke Boxman - Pharmacy or (Bio)Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Rogier Lemaire - Computer Science and Technical Informatics
  • Jelle Oonk - Physics and Applied Physics
  • Luke Jansen & Sofie van Wezel (Leiden and TU Delft) - Chemistry
  • Joep Kraakman - Astronomy
  • Sibrand Op de Beek - Mathematics and Engineering Mathematics

The awards were presented on 27 November at KHMW's home base, the Hodshon House in Haarlem.

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