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2010 - Charles Herder

As long as engineers find ways to fit more transistors onto microprocessors, personal electronics will continue to shrink in size.  The smallest transistors possible today are one-quarter the width of a human hair, and chipmakers are still scrambling to find ways to mass-produce them.  So Charles Henry Herder III is looking beyond the limitations of today’s manufacturing technology to clear obstacles in the way of building quantum computers.



As sub-atomic size machines, quantum computers exist mostly in theory—until researchers can solve the problem of making and operating them.  For example, Charles is investigating ways to detect photon transmission without interfering in particles’ transit.  It’s a difficult task, when the energy produced by the process of detection can affect the particles being measured.  Charles’s interest in computing began with the video games he played in high school, when he used source code for the game Half-Life to modify play and eventually develop his own game.  The more he understood about how present-day computing works, the more he realized its limitations—which in turn has led him to breakthrough concepts such as quantum computing.
 


Charles received his Master’s degree from MIT in spring 2010, and plans to continue his research collaboration in the area of Quantum Computing.  He is just as passionate about a wide range of sports as he is about his research, playing lacrosse for MIT and water-skiing since the age of 3.