Hideo Mabuchi, 28
California Institute of Technology
Consider two facts: 1) Hideo Mabuchi is the only Caltech graduate student in physics in the last decade to be offered a professorship before he received his doctorate; 2) Nobelist David Baltimore, president of Caltech, says: "Make no mistake: Professor Mabuchi’s sights are set at nothing less than changing the world."
Mabuchi’s plan to change the world leads through the quantum computer. A small but growing group of physicists hope to manipulate the quantum effects that govern the world of atoms to build powerful computers and communications devices. One hurdle to building even simple quantum devices is that experimentalists have been forced to observe quantum effects in tightly controlled systems, counting themselves lucky if they can catch even a fleeting glimpse of these phenomena. Mabuchi is working to change that.
He has conceived and performed experiments that measure quantum effects in real time in an open system, creating what he calls "realtime movies" of the interaction of an atom and photon. In his next experiments, he will try to control quantum interactions using this real-time feedback. That kind of control could be a first step toward making quantum devices a reality.