Charles M. Marcus

University of Copenhagen

Primary Section: 13, Physics
Secondary Section: 33, Applied Physical Sciences
Membership Type: Member (elected 2018)


Charles Marcus is an experimental condensed matter physicist known for contributions to mesoscopic physics, quantum Hall effects, and connections to quantum chaos. His work also spans spin transport, and spin qubits, and more recently hybrid semiconductor-superconductor structures with connection to topological matter and topological quantum computing. Marcus was raised in Sonoma, California. He attended Stanford University as an undergraduate, and received his PhD from Harvard University in 1990, where he was also an IBM postdoctoral Fellow from 1990 to 1992. He was on the Physics faculty at Stanford University (1992-2000) and Harvard University (2000-2011). At Harvard he was also director of the Center for Nanoscale Systems (2006-2011). Marcus moved to the Niels Bohr Institute in 2012 and currenly serves as director of the Center for Quantum Devices, a basic research center sponsored by the Danish National Research Foundation. He is also director of Microsoft Quantum Lab – Copenhagen, part of a Microsoft sponsored effort to understand and build a topological quantum information processing device.

Research Interests

Charles Marcus has spent his career investigating quantum coherent phenomena in mesoscopic electronics. Early work, following a PhD on the unrelated topic of neural networks, focussed on ballistic conductance fluctuation and quantum chaos. this system, the shape of the structure, rather than disorder, is responsible for the chaotic trajectories of electrons and can be controlled by confinement. The role of decoherence—how classical emerges from quantum in chaotic system—was emphasized. In the following decade, Marcus’s focussed on spin physics in open mesoscopic structures and few-electron quantum dots. These small spin systems realized spin qubits, following the theory of Loss and DiVincenzo. In spin qubits, a principle source of decoherence is coupling of individual electron spins to ensembles of nuclear spins in the host material. Around this time, Marcus became connected to Microsoft research, and investigated possible non-Abelian excitations in the fractional quantum Hall effect. Upon moving to NBI in Copenhagen in 2012, Marcus continued investigating emergent non-abelian modes in the solid state, focusing on superconductor-semiconductor systems, including nanowires, 2D semiconductor heterostructures, and recently selective area grown hybrid materials.

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