“An investigator is linked to the planet, to history, space and time”


We talked to Enrique Solano, PhD. from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, head of the research group “Quantum Technologies for Information Science (QUTIS)”, at University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain, and graduated from our academic program in Physics.

Tell us about your educational and research path.

I pursued the Master Program in Physics, partially, in Pierre and Marie Curie University, in France, and I finished it at PUCP. I made my doctoral thesis in quantum optics in the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. I worked as an investigator for several years at Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, in Garching, and at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany. Moreover, I have been a visiting professor at Macquarie University, Australia, Technical University of Munich, Germany; Shanghai University, China, and I was rewarded with an Honorary Doctoral Degree by Universidad Ricardo Palma, Peru. Since 2008, I am the head of research group “Quantum Technologies for Information Science (QUTIS)”, www.qutisgroup.com, at University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain.

 Could you make a summary of your current research?

Our lines of research evolve over the years, from quantum optics and quantum information to quantum simulation, quantum computer science, quantum artificial intelligence, quantum biomimetics and quantum technologies in general. QUTIS is a highly creative and proactive research group, with collaborations in five continents. Likewise, we have a great impact by our original ideas on bigger academic and technological laboratories of the planet. QUTIS is a renowned think-tank worldwide with very influencing results in the major quantum computer science laboratories such as Google and IBM.

What is a quantum computer and/or quantum computer science?

A quantum computer is a computer machine that substitutes the classic data item, i.e. bit, for a quantum bit or qubit (quantum bit). The bit may acquire the value of “0” or “1”, while qubit allows coexistence of both of them with different weights in probability amplitudes. To have access to quantum computer science with these qubits, it is necessary to tame the microscopic world of atoms and photons, which are quantum particles of light. Finally, there have been other physical supports for quantum computer science which are more complex, but, at the same time, improve the necessary conditions; I mean, superconductive circuits that need to work at temperatures close to absolute zero. My research group leads these pioneer platforms that are receiving care and millionaire investments from big technological companies such as Google, Intel and IBM worldwide.

What does quantum supremacy mean?

Quantum supremacy is the possibility that one day, possibly very soon, we can make a calculation, a computation or a scientific discovery using quantum computers, so that neither all classic supercomputers of the planet can reproduce it. On that occasion, we would have changed history of science, knowledge and computer science. Simply, quantum computers will open a path to new sources of knowledge which might have never been obtained otherwise. This is exciting, as in the best science fiction movies, but in reality. And the most wonderful is working every day since decades ago accompanying, discovering and creating on these issues. This is a dream that comes true every single day that goes by, it is the life of an investigation from 21st century.

What are the applications and/or their significance? What would them allow?

Quantum computer science is the tip of the iceberg of quantum technologies including quantum simulation, quantum communication and quantum metrology. We are working at all of them in parallel and my group is pioneer in other merger of quantum computer science and artificial intelligence and artificial life. We work in order to combine biological and intelligent behaviors with the foundations of quantum physics. We want to solve significant problems in chemical design of new materials and drugs; we want to create simulators of high-energy and nuclear physics problems that avoid expensive experiments; establish quantum communication mechanisms with highly safe cryptographic methods; solve problems associated with computational complexity in economics, turbulence, fluid mechanics, design and in many other unexplored fields.

About PUCP and the School

What do you appreciate more about your knowledge gotten from the undergraduate studies in the School of Science and Engineering?

I remember with affection my courses of quantum physics, electromagnetism and special and general relativity. Also, my courses of mechanical engineering before changing to physics. For instance, the courses of statics, dynamics and material resistance were very hard, but I achieved to perceive the art of design, capture of complexity through the model simplicity and many wonderful and creative discussions with my colleagues. I always remember myself walking by the campus at PUCP, guessing, proposing, designing and creating every time possible. I remember me as if I were in a bubble where only I and the aesthetic and physical universe around me existed, history of science and great minds of humanity. I remember everything like in an Aleph of Borges, everything with a certain mystical aura and, inside me, an infinite curiosity, a creative voracity and a need of expressing myself aesthetically and scientifically that I only feel to grow over the years.

What was the most valuable thing learned here, which facilitated you to develop abroad?

I learned many things at PUCP, which were valuable for my intellectual and professional development abroad. Firstly, the competitive capacity; secondly, emotional resilience and, finally, high level of scientific and creative education. Also, there were important things I did not learn or I could not learn for lack of maturity. The rest is done by the individual, his family, friends, dreams and fantasies. I have said it a few times or, simply, I am ignored when I say it, but I have always felt like an artist, then a scientist and, finally, an entrepreneur. The latter is slowing moving to the business world with huge progress in quantum technologies, but each thing had its time and evolution. Finally, I took abroad something many Peruvians have in excess, and this a creative response to adversity.

What advice could you give to students who are interested in research?

Each investigator and each creative mind is unique and special. To discover our talents, it is necessary to display them to other more experienced investigators. For this, it is necessary to join creative groups both at PUCP, in Peru and the world. Research is the discovery and design of things that do not exist, is very similar to art, and competition is worldwide and historical, not local. An investigator is linked to the planet, history, space and time; he has to work and wish to be the first one, the most original creator, the best innovator, the first one in everything that is produced. If the research play is not accepted with those variables, notwithstanding it sound selfish and childish, it is better to begin because people will not go so far and competition never rests.