Professor Biercuk is an internationally recognized young leader in the development of quantum control. He is an Experimentalist with experience in condensed matter and atomic physics platforms, currently leading a cutting-edge research program using trapped atomic ions (skills developed working with 2012 Nobel Laureate, David Wineland). Biercuk has expertise building and leading large collaborative research program and is an active leader in public audience discourse on science and science policy.

Major funding support

To date Professor Biercuk has been awarded nine external peer-reviewed research grants from the USA and Australia and six internal grants at the University of Sydney, with total funding exceeding $55M since 2010. Professor Biercuk is Primary Investigator (lead/ administering investigator) of two US Army Research Office Grants totalling US$4.3M, a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems and an ARC Discovery Project, Chief Investigator on an ARC Linkage partnership with Australian SME MOGLabs, and Chief Investigator in the US IARPA MQCO Program. Associate Professor Biercuk has secured $500k in private philanthropic support for his research team.

Mentoring and research training

Professor Biercuk’s group integrates students and junior scientists in cutting-edge experiments. He has supervised eight postdoctoral fellows, five PhD students (two nearing completion), two MSc students (thesis submission 2015), three visiting PhD students, and eight Honours students (six completions, H1). Three postdoctoral researchers have successfully transitioned to permanent research positions in the USA, UK, and Australia. If you are interested in working or studying with Professor Biercuk, please contact him.

PhD, Harvard University, USA (2005)
AM, Harvard University, USA (2003)
BA, University of Pennsylvania, USA (2001)
Research Facilities: 
Quantum control with trapped ions

Grand challenge - To realise new capabilities through the development of a comprehensive and flexible quantum control toolkit

The discipline of control engineering provides extraordinary capabilities to the modern engineering community – producing systems that are stable and which can even gain new capabilities through the application of ideas from this field.

A beautiful demonstration of this power comes in the form of a 1980s experimental aircraft. The X-29, an American airplane that was designed like a dart being thrown backwards, was able to fly because of major advances in a discipline called control engineering that were able to stabilise the airplane.

This technological example has served as a major inspiration for our work in the newly emerging field of quantum control engineering. Our EQuS research program is interested in how similar concepts can play a role in bringing quantum technologies to reality. If control engineering can turn an unstable dart into a high-performance fighter jet, the potential to transform today’s sensitive quantum systems into next-generation quantum technologies is extraordinary.

Error robust multiqubit gates

Grand challenge - To realise new capabilities through the development of a comprehensive and flexible quantum control toolkit

This work addressed a problem of fundamental physical and technological significance – suppressing error in entangling quantum logic gates. Entangling logic operations is of tremendous importance to the field of quantum information, which attracts broad interest in the physics community. Moreover, dealing with error is a significant hurdle in the development of quantum technologies and has attracted significant attention in the community.

Programmable quantum simulation

Grand challenge: Realise new and otherwise inaccessible regimes of physics through the construction of hybrid quantum systems.

Our primary focus in this project for 2014 has been on the development of advanced hardware systems which will provide unique capabilities in quantum simulation. A major area for development this year has been the construction of a new high-optical-access Penning ion trap for quantum simulation experiments with two-dimensional ion crystals. Postdoctoral researcher Karsten Pyka and PhD student Harrison Ball have led this hardware development, producing an exciting and technically complex system which will provide the ability to trap, manipulate, and measure up to approximately 1000 trapped ions in regular triangular lattices. The system has been specifically designed to permit the integration of high-power Raman laser systems at angles sufficient to generate long-range, high-fidelity entanglement. 

Current Supervision

Honours project - Principal Advisor

Doctor Philosophy - Principal Advisor

Doctor Philosophy - Principal Advisor

Doctor Philosophy - Principal Advisor

Doctor Philosophy - Principal Advisor

Undergraduate project - Principal Advisor

Doctor Philosophy - Principal Advisor

Doctor Philosophy - Principal Advisor

Doctor Philosophy - Principal Advisor

Completed Supervision

Undergraduate project - Principal Advisor

Honours project - Principal Advisor

NMI Prize for Excellence in Measurement Science (Winner)


International Collaboration in Quantum Control

DVC International/IPDF Grant (2015)

New techniques in quantum simulation

DVC Research/International Research Collaboration Award (IRCA). (2015)

Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year (Finalist, award TBA)


Frequency standards with breakthrough performance: Engineering immunity to LO instabilities using dynamical error suppression

ARC Discovery Projects (2014)

Foundation technology for quantum measurement, sensing and computing

ARC Linkage Project (2014)

Australian Innovation Challenge (Finalist - also 2011, 2013)


Ultimo Science Festival Einstein Lecturer


Australia-China Group Mission in the Control of Quantum Systems

Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (Fed)/Australia China Science and Research Fund - Group Missions (2012)

Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Innovation in Computer Science (Finalist)


Sydney Morning Herald “Sydney’s Top 100 Most Influential People”


Research Selected “#8 World Changing Experiment,” BBC FOCUS


Modular Universal Scalable Ion-trap Quantum Computer (MUSIQC)

Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA)/Research Support (2011)
Last reviewed 23 July 2015

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Major funding support

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