ICFO MACIEJ LEWENSTEIN QUANTUM SCHOOL FOR TEACHERS

Spark your secondary school students’ interest
in physics and quantum technologies

 

Quantum physics is the foundation of many technologies we use every day, such as lasers and LEDs. These came from the first quantum revolution in the 1960s. We are now at the beginning of a second quantum revolution that promises to provide new technologies that will benefit all of society. Despite this, most people still see quantum physics as something esoteric and hard to understand.

ICFO has created and collected tools and materials for secondary school teachers to spark the new generations’ interest in this fascinating world.

 

In 2017, ICREA Professor at ICFO Maciej Lewenstein received the Spanish Royal Society of Physics (RSEF) – BBVA Foundation Physics Prize. He decided to donate the entire prize to a project to educate the new generations about the wonders of quantum physics and the promising technologies that may shape their lives in the future.

That’s how the ICFO Maciej Lewenstein Quantum School for Teachers was born.

ICFO Maciej Lewenstein Quantum School for Teachers is free and accessible through this website at any time.

Explore the four course modules to learn more about quantum physics and the technologies that come from it. Access tools that will help your students understand them.

Many of the materials are in video format, so you can stop or replay them every time you want.

Contact us at outreach@icfo.eu if you have any doubts or to send us your questions or ask for information about the training sessions for secundary school teachers.

 

teachers in a classroom learning how to use a polarizer

1. Introduction to quantum physics

To understand quantum technologies, we must first grasp the basic principles that govern the world at the scale of atoms and molecules. Below we propose various materials to discover superposition, entanglement and other concepts that are the foundations of the new quantum technologies.

1a. ANIMATIONS

These animations explain the basic principles on which the new quantum technologies are based in an understandable, visual way. There is no need for prior knowledge of the subject.

Click on the items below to see the content.

Superposition

You can try this experiment yourself with the interactive Mach-Zehnder interferometer co-designed by ICFO. You can find it  in the Kósmos section of the permanent exhibit of CosmoCaixa Barcelona.

Measurement

Entanglement

Bell test

1b. VIDEOS

In these videos, some of the people working at ICFO go a little deeper into the issues touched on by the animations.

 

click on the items below to see the content.

Squeezing

Entanglement

Bell's Theorem: Drama in four acts

1c. Reading materials

The Quantum sense series of articles is an interesting way to learn about quantum physics with a literary touch.

 

2. Introduction to quantum technologies

Although quantum physics describes the behaviour of very small objects, it can have effects on larger scales and we can use it to create technologies that benefit society. In this module, we will find out about emerging technologies based on quantum physics that promise to benefit society in many different fields, such as communications and computer security.

We already have many technologies based on the first discoveries of quantum physics, such as lasers and LEDs. Technological advances now allow us to control quantum properties almost at the level of individual particles. This opens the door to new applications: we are at the beginning of a second quantum revolution. Watch the following videos to better understand what the emerging quantum technologies are.

Drawing of scientists looking at quantum technologies

2a. Quantum technologies in 5 minutes

2b. Quantum communications

Click on the items below to see the content.

Quantum technologies: communications

Quantum cryptography

2c. Quantum sensors

Click on the items below to see the content.

Quantum technologies: metrology

Quantum technologies: sensing

2d. quantum simulators

2e. quantum computing

Click on the items below to see the content.

Quantum technologies: computing

Basic concepts

Computació quàntica en 5 minutinos de ná (in Spanish)

Computadoras cuánticas en 5 minutos (in Spanish)

3. Quantum technologies at ICFO

With more than half of its research groups working in these fields, ICFO is a leading research centre in the field of quantum physics. It is pooling its efforts with groups from other research centres and companies, playing an active role in networks at the local (QuantumCAT) and international level (European Quantum Flagship). Their aim is to accelerate the use of these technologies by society.

cold atoms cloud in a quantum physics lab at ICFO

3a. quantum physics LABORATORy

In the Experimental Lab section of the Quantum Tour you can see a 360º photo of one of our labs. Click on the different items in the 360º photo for more information.

Drawing of people working in the lab

3b. comics and research

This comic is part of the Recercòmics collection developed by the Catalan Government Department of Research and Universities. It briefly explains the technology being developed by Quside, one of the companies that focuses on quantum technologies created by ICFO. 

3c. flash talks

People who do research at ICFO talk about their work in the field of quantum physics in 5-minute knowledge pills. These talks are in Spanish.

 

Click on the items below to see the content.

Enfriando átomos a golpe de láser para crear materia cuántica

Luz y comunicación: hacia un internet cuántico

Quside y criptografía cuántica

Antoni Gaudí y la simulación cuántica analógica

The talk about quantum simulation and Gaudí is also available in a shorter and more entertaining format. With this version, Javier Argüello Luengo won The Science Club Monologue competition 2021 organised by FCRI. You can see Javier’s monologue at minute 40:45 through the following link.

3d. research projects

These slightly more technical videos present some of the projects being carried out at ICFO to develop new quantum technologies. .

Click on the items below to see the content.

entangled quantum memories for a quantum repeater: a step closer to the quantum internet

new quantum microscope improves sensitivity avoiding photodamage

The Quantum Communications Infrastructure

CiViQ: Quantum Key Distribution to secure our communications

2D-SIPC: Scalable Quantum Networks

QRANGE: generating quantum random numbers

QIA: A Quantum Internet Alliance

macQsimal: Preparing the next generation of quantum sensors

4. Quantum physics in the classroom

We have prepared activities and materials to help you spark the new generations’ interest in the fascinating world of quantum physics.

4a. decide game: quantum technologies

One of the best ways to introduce a new topic to a group of people is through a Decide Game, an interactive and dynamic group activity based on PlayDecide. ICFO has developed one to introduce quantum physics and the technologies derived from it to people with no prior knowledge of the subject: Decide Game: Quantum technologies. It is a good way to break the ice and make initial contact with the quantum world with your students.

students talking around a table while playing the Decide Game

The instructions on how to organise a Decide Game with your students can be found through the link below.

The same document also provides links to access the materials you need to organise the activity.

If you want to organise it with us, contact us  or check the activity schedule to see if Decide Game sessions are available for groups.

4b. quantum cryptography

Quantum cryptography is the most mature quantum technology and the easiest to explain: we have prepared a set of activities you can use to introduce it in the classroom.

4c. Quantum tour

Many of the materials in the preceding modules come from Quantum Tour, a digital platform created by ICFO to make emerging quantum technologies known through videos, animations and other interactive elements.

4d. research projects for students

We regularly offer practical activities in which the most motivated students can come to ICFO and try to build an optical setup to perform the first quantum cryptography protocol, BB84. View the activity schedule to find out about the next available sessions.

Contact us if one of your students has questions about quantum physics: we can arrange a meeting (virtual or in-person) to answer them.

Through this link you can see some of the quantum physics research papers presented at previous editionsof the Young Photonics Congress, a scientific congress organised each year by ICFO, where high-school students present their photonics projects.

further information

The ICFO Maciej Lewenstein Quantum School for Teachers is designed to take the first steps in the world of quantum technologies. There are many other materials available to learn more about the subject. Below are some proposals for further research.

If you need to learn a bit of mathematical language, you can go to the Quest section of the QplayLearn webpage and click on Learn in each item. We also recommend the Six Quantum Pieces book by Valerio Scarani.

You can go deeper into quantum computing and even test your algorithms on a quantum computer on the IBM Quantum website.

The Quantum Game by Quantum Flytrap is a game to learn quantum physics through simulations and puzzles. In Virtual Lab you can find simulations of important experiments in the field of quantum physics.

If you want to know how to do citizen science with quantum physics, see the BIG Bell Test (designed and coordinated by ICFO) or the Science at Home project.

You can find more resources like these to introduce quantum technologies in the classroom in the QTEdu website.

On the Quantum Flagship or QuantumCAT website you can find information about research projects that are being conducted with the quantum technologies of the future.

 

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