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Professor Elohim Becerra receives NSF CAREER Award

Departmental News

Prof. Elohim Becerra, CQulC, UNM

Posted: May 15, 2017

Dr. Elohim Becerra received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award for his proposal "Quantum Measurements for Optical Communications."

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is NSF’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the community. The NSF CAREER program is geared toward helping early-career faculty get strong starts on their academic careers.

Becerra is an assistant professor with The University of New Mexico (UNM) Physics and Astronomy Department. His research interests are in optics and experimental research in quantum optics, nonlinear optics and quantum information. Becerra is a faculty member in the new Quantum Optics track for the UNM Optical Science and Engineering program and leader of the Quantum Optics Research Group.

He is an experimental physicist with the Center for Quantum Information and Control (CQulC), funded by the NSF and co-located at UNM and the University of Arizona in Tucson. The quantum properties of physical systems have a large potential for enabling technologies with unprecedented capabilities. The Quantum Optics group's interests include the study of measurements with sensitivities beyond conventional limits of detection, and the study of quantum-state superpositions from the interaction of light and matter for quantum information and communication protocols. The group studies the technologies that can be enabled by these quantum systems and seeks to understand the limits of such quantum technologies. Applications of these studies include quantum and coherent communications, metrology, and quantum information processing.

Becerra has been the Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-PI for a number of published papers. (Google scholar profile)

Becerra Research Group

Quantum Optics Research Group

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Abstract for NSF CAREER Award Proposal

Optical communication enables high rates of information transfer over long distances. However, the amount of information that can be communicated is fundamentally limited by the intrinsic quantum noise of the states of light used as information carriers. This noise precludes any measurement from perfectly distinguishing different states and generates decoding errors. This project will investigate and experimentally demonstrate non-conventional measurements for coherent states of light, such as laser light, that exploit the properties of coherent states and single-photon detection to maximize the measurement sensitivity and enhance information transfer, and will develop methods to overcome noise, loss, and imperfections of real communication channels. These non-conventional measurements can in principle provide sensitivities beyond what is possible with current conventional technologies, and can be used to increase the rate of information transfer in optical communication. This project lies at the interface of optics, communication, and quantum information, and will provide an ideal environment for education of undergraduate and graduate students. The educational plan of the project will develop new experiments for laboratory courses at UNM that will strengthen the undergraduate and graduate curriculum. These new experiments will benefit undergraduate and graduate students in physics and optics including underrepresented minority students. Lab guides will be available online for use by students and instructors within and outside UNM.

Quantum measurements for the discrimination of non-orthogonal coherent phase states can achieve sensitivities beyond the quantum noise limit (QNL), which corresponds to the ultimate limit for ideal coherent (Gaussian) measurements, and can be used to approach the ultimate quantum limits of information transfer. The goal of this project is to investigate and experimentally demonstrate new capabilities of measurements based on non-Gaussian operations for the discrimination of non-orthogonal coherent states for applications in quantum and classical communications. These measurements utilize photon counting, displacement operations and optimized adaptive measurements to enhance sensitivities for the discrimination of multiple states at arbitrary input power levels while being robust under realistic noise and loss of communication channels. These optimized methods can be applied to enhance the rate of information transfer in communications, and experiments will aim to demonstrate measurements with capacities beyond what is achievable with Gaussian measurements using coherent states. This work will make optimized measurements achieving sensitivities beyond the QNL a more realistic alternative to enhance information transfer beyond what can be achieved with conventional communication technologies.


Dr. Francisco Elohim Becerra-Chavez received his M. S. in 2005 and his Ph.D. in 2009 in Physics at the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Avanzados, Mexico. He performed his Ph.D. research at the JQI at the University of Maryland with Profs. Luis Orozco and Steven Rolston in the area of quantum optics with atomic ensembles. In 2010 he joined the group of Dr. Alan Migdall at the National Institute of Standards and Technology as a Postdoctoral Researcher investigating single-photon technologies and quantum measurements. Dr. Becerra joined the University of New Mexico in 2013 as an Assistant Professor, where he performs experimental research in Quantum Optics, Nonlinear Optics, and Quantum Information.