Rice physicist earns NSF CAREER Award to revolutionize quantum technology

Yonglong Xie

Yonglong Xie, assistant professor of physics at Rice University, has been awarded a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The $888,555 grant over five years will support Xie’s research into harnessing magnons, quantum mechanical wavelike objects in magnetic materials, to create synthetic matter and develop next-generation quantum devices and sensors.

Yonglong Xie
Yonglong Xie

The CAREER program offers NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of early career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education. Xie’s project focuses on exploring the possible quantum phenomena that can be engineered using magnons as building blocks with a goal of advancing the understanding of fundamental quantum science.

“Magnons display fundamentally different characteristics than electrons, and their collective behavior in solids remains largely unexplored,” Xie said. “By better understanding magnons, we aim to create synthetic matter not found in nature and develop quantum devices and sensors with unprecedented functionalities.”

Xie’s research will utilize graphene, a sheet of carbon atoms, placed in a strong magnetic field as a platform to efficiently launch and detect magnons. This research has the potential to lead to technological applications in ultra-low-power electronics, information transfer, computing, sensing, energy conversion and more.

“This award is a tremendous honor and will enable us to pursue important research at the intersection of physics, materials science and quantum technology,” Xie said. “I am grateful for the trust and support of the NSF and Rice University and excited to continue this critical work.”

In addition to his research, Xie will also lead education and outreach programs for high school, undergraduate and graduate students, connecting materials education with the growing societal demand for quantum technology.

Xie joined the Rice faculty in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in July 2023. Prior to joining Rice, he was a Harvard Quantum Initiative Prize Postdoctoral Fellow working in Amir Yacoby’s group at Harvard University in close collaboration with Pablo Jarillo-Herrero’s group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in physics in 2019 under the supervision of Ali Yazdani at Princeton University and holds an M.S. from Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris.