Research in 60 Seconds: Quantum Physics for the Future of Tech

Whether it’s solving the world’s biggest problems or investigating the potential of novel discoveries, researchers at UCF are on the edge scientific breakthroughs that aim to make an impact. Through the Research in 60 Seconds series, student and faculty researchers condense their complex studies into bite-sized summaries so you can know how and why Knights plan to improve our world.

Name: Enrique Del Barco

Position(s): Pegasus Professor of Physics and associate dean of Research, Facilities

Why are you interested in this research?
Understanding how the microscopic world functions is almost bucolic, as the laws governing this world (quantum mechanics) are absolutely unimaginable from our classical world perspective but explain the most fundamental phenomena with unnumerable repercussions in our day-to-day lives.

Who inspires you to conduct your research?
My students. I reflect myself in my students, from high school to the Ph.D. level. They remind me of my youngest self, when I looked at the world with amusement and was looking to understand how everything works. I see this in my students’ faces when they are in the lab trying to unveil the next secret of the microscopic world.

Are you a faculty member or student conducting research at UCF? We want to hear from you! Tell us about your research at bit.ly/ucf-research-60-form.

How does UCF empower you to do your research?
UCF has offered me the opportunity to build an extremely competitive research laboratory and has continuously supported me during the years in basically every single need I have had while putting me in contact with an amazing population of brilliant students.

What major grants and honors have you earned to support your research?
I have received numerous grants from multiple external sponsors, including the U.S. National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Defense, that amount to over $12 million. This funding has been essential to support the research activities conducted in my group. As the main recognition that I have received from my colleague scientists was becoming fellow of the American Physical Society in 2017 for my accomplishments in nanoscale magnetism research.

Why is this research important?
Our research in nanoscale spintronics has strong potential to represent a breakthrough in technology. To provide an example, spintronics-based circuitry may end consuming one thousand times less energy than the most advanced electronic technology. Only this would represent a revolution, as currently energy consumption by electronic circuits (including computers) represents one of the most important expenses of energy in the world, contributing significantly to our climate change. Decreasing this by a thousand would be amazing!

How to Get Involved with Research at UCF

  • F-LEARN @ UCF: A living-learning community for STEM students entering UCF from high school that provides hands-on early research opportunity for academic success.
  • Getting Started Workshops: The Office of Research hosts workshops that inform students about how to get started in research and find a faculty member to work with and the first steps on getting started in research.
  • Honors Undergraduate Thesis: Over the course of two to four semesters, students work closely with a faculty committee to research, write, defend, and publish an original thesis that serves as an honors capstone product of their undergraduate career.
  • Introduction to Research and Creative Scholarship Opportunities (INTRO) Mentoring Program: A semester-long immersive, classroom experience offered in fall and spring semesters that provides students ways to get connected to research opportunities. This program is available in person or online.
  • Office of Undergraduate Research: OUR is dedicated to cultivating and supporting world-class research at UCF. Students can connect with the office for any questions they may have about research or to find opportunities.
  • Peer Mentoring: This program connects students with experienced undergraduate researchers who will provide guidance on how to get started and get support through research experiences.
  • Research Positions Database: This online resource allows students to discover research opportunities with UCF researchers across various disciplines. Please note faculty contact information is password protected, but students can gain access by attending a peer mentoring session, completing the Research Roadmaps webcourse, and through other engagement opportunities.
  • Research Roadmaps Webcourse: The is an online, non-credit, self-paced course that introduces students to research opportunities at UCF. It provides the same information as peer mentoring sessions or a workshop, but at your own pace. Completion of this course also provides you access to the Research Positions Database.
  • SONA: This is a research participation system that allows students who are looking to become participants in studies, usually in exchange for course credit, to find opportunities. The College of Health Professions and Sciences, College of Business and Department of Psychology are among some of the units at UCF that list opportunities here.
  • Summer Research Academy: A three-day event in July that’s designed to support UCF undergraduate students across all majors who are interested in participating in research and creative scholarship. This is an ideal opportunity for students who want to begin research in the fall.
  • T-LEARN @ UCF: A living-learning community for first-year, transfer students at UCF who have already earned an Associate in Arts degree. T-LEARN provides a select group of students interested in STEM hands-on learning experiences by helping them engage in research.

Are you a faculty member or student conducting research at UCF? We want to hear from you! Tell us about your research at bit.ly/ucf-research-60-form.


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