Eric Holland makes and studies artificial atoms. Considering the field he is in (quantum computing and quantum optics), that’s a pretty basic description. He is a doctoral candidate at Yale University, in a department that has produced four Nobel Prize winners. He hopes that his work will eventually lead to the development of a much faster computer than the ones we have today.
Quantum optics is the study of a small number of atoms “talking to each other and doing things that have no classical explanation.” Quantum computing is an attempt to use atoms to create computers that can transition more quickly.
Experiments have shown promising results but no one has been able to build the most essential part of a quantum computer yet. A quantum computer should be fully realizing its potential within the next 50 years, Holland believes.
Holland finds this field exciting because he is able to test systems that are profoundly simple and yield truly quantum results. In essence, he can test the thought experiments that were being argued about 80 or so years ago. He works in the lab of Rob Schoelkopf and is thrilled to be a part of such extensive and innovative research.
Holland chose Saint Anselm because he believed it had a good mixture of athletics and academics. Coming in as a freshman he had no idea that physicists even existed. After one season on the football team he realized it was time to hang up his cleats and see what else was out there. He thought about transferring, but the faculty were inviting and interesting so he decided to stay. After his first physics course Professor Schnick reached out to him to start a summer discussion about famous lectures in physics. That moment changed Holland’s career trajectory completely.
Holland credits Saint Anselm for teaching him how to network. “I learned how to find and utilize the resources available to help me achieve what I wanted,” he says. He believes it is up to the student to use what Saint Anselm has taught them to make valuable connections in the real world and in their field.
Holland is always on the move. This past summer he went to Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. He also competed in his first triathlon last year, and loves swimming. He enjoys short story writing and is working on a screenplay. He also would love to get certified to skydive solo.
Holland has many dreams and isn’t quite sure where he will end up. He may want to take a postdoc in Europe or apply to be a professor. Either way, the possibilities are endless for this quantum physicist.
Read more Spotlights on Physics