In this interview, we talk to Alan Salari authors of the book, Microwave Techniques in Superconducting Quantum Computers. We discuss the motivation behind writing the book, the target audience, the most useful aspects of the book, the challenges of writing the book, and advice for other engineers who are considering writing a book.
Alan Salari is an experimental quantum physicist and microwave engineer actively involved in developing cutting-edge technologies. He has worked in various fields: superconducting qubits, ultra-cold atomic gases, pixel detectors for the Large Hadron Collider, microwave plasma generators, and radar and satellite communication systems. Alan is a senior member of IEEE, the Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C), and the MidAtlantic Quantum Alliance. Notably, he has been honored with numerous awards from esteemed organizations such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) Chicago, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (EXIST Gründerstipendium), and Siemens AG.
1.What was your main motivation behind writing your book?
Quantum technologies will revolutionize our lives like never before, and they require a highly specialized, multidisciplinary workforce. This technology has also created numerous opportunities, especially for hardware engineers in microwave and embedded hardware engineering areas.
The talent gap in quantum technologies has been challenging, requiring more educational resources, investments, and public awareness. While there has been much focus on training the workforce for developing quantum algorithms and software, there is a shortage of dedicated resources for understanding and implementing quantum hardware. This motivated me to write this book as the first book on this topic on the market and leverage over a decade of my experience in both microwave and quantum engineering to bridge the gap in the literature. My goal is to provide a resource for microwave engineers and physicists that covers the principles of operation and practical techniques for implementing superconducting quantum processors.
2. Who is the main target audience for your book and what will they appreciate the most about the book?
With clearly outlined learning objectives, coherent explanations of intricate concepts, and practice-oriented techniques for quantum hardware implementation, this is a reference for a wide spectrum of professionals, including microwave and quantum engineers, technical managers, technical sales engineers in quantum computing and microwave companies, as well as newcomers entering the field of quantum computing hardware. The technical knowledge acquired throughout this book equips the reader with essential skills to succeed in the demanding industries and research settings surrounding quantum technologies.
3. What do you see your book being most useful for?
This book serves as a guide for those aiming to understand the critical cryogenic and room-temperature microwave techniques to implement quantum processor hardware.
This book provides practical insights into quantum and microwave engineering, offering a comprehensive understanding of the principles of quantum mechanics and quantum computing necessary for operating a quantum computer.
Readers will delve into the intricacies of superconducting quantum processors, gaining knowledge on how to operate such processors. The book further explores the design of microwave systems, introducing essential components for both room temperature and cryogenic setups. Building on these fundamentals, subsequent chapters synthesize the discussed concepts, guiding readers on the assembly of a functional superconducting quantum processor.
Lastly, the book addresses the operational principles of dilution refrigeration, offering a holistic perspective on the cryogenic aspects crucial to the quantum computing process.
4. How did you find the writing of the book? Do you have a specific process or are you quite methodical in your writing approach?
Writing this book posed significant challenges due to the intricate nature of developing and implementing quantum hardware, which demands a profound understanding of various disciplines such as quantum mechanics, quantum computing, microwave engineering, and cryogenics. The process involved several key steps: identifying the essential skillsets required by a quantum hardware engineer, structuring them into chapters, and subsequently selecting crucial topics for each chapter. For each topic, I began by documenting all the information I deemed important. The subsequent steps included multiple rounds of curating the content.
5. What challenges did you face when writing the book and how did you overcome them?
Being the first of its kind, the initial challenge involved compiling a list of topics to address the critical skillsets necessary for the field of superconducting quantum hardware development. Leveraging my educational and professional background in both quantum and microwave engineering played a crucial role in overcoming this obstacle.
Given the multidisciplinary nature of this field, a delicate balance had to be struck from the beginning to make the content accessible to both physicists and microwave engineers. This endeavor presented a considerable challenge, requiring the inclusion of details that might be apparent to one group but not to the other. Despite these complexities, my aim has consistently been to present the material in a clear and engaging manner, ensuring accessibility and relevance for all readers involved in this dynamic intersection of science and engineering.
Subsequently, I confronted the demanding constraint of a tight timeline, necessitating intensive daily writing commitments over more than a year, all while managing a full-time job, adding an extra layer of difficulty. I was able to overcome this challenge through effective time management and consistency, which are the keys to success.
An integral part of the process was sharing my work with colleagues and incorporating their valuable feedback. I was fortunate to have exceptional colleagues and mentors from renowned industry and academia, among them is David DiVincenzo, a pioneer in the field of quantum computing who, for the first time, established the criteria for building a quantum computer.
6. What advice would you give to other engineers who are considering writing a book?
Since my early days of delving into electrical engineering, my fascination with real-world applications led me to the invaluable resources provided by Artech House books. Working with Artech House exposed me to an exceptional team comprising technical, editorial, and marketing experts. So, the initial step is to carefully select the publisher that best suits your book.
Before embarking on the writing journey, it’s crucial to define how your book will carve its unique identity amid existing works. What aspects of the subject have not yet been explored in other books?
Another critical consideration is acknowledging the substantial energy and time investment required. Crafting a book demands sustained effort over a considerable duration. Authors must grasp the challenges inherent in the process while recognizing the ultimately rewarding impact it can have on their careers and beyond.
7. What are you working on next?
In my professional journey, I am currently focussed on the design and implementation of scalable microwave control hardware for superconducting qubits.
At the same time, I am actively involved in workforce development in both microwave and quantum engineering by offering practice-oriented and IEEE-certified online courses accessible on Quaxys Academy (https://quaxys.com). Additionally, I share concise insights on my YouTube channels—RF Wisdom Series and Quantum Wisdom Series (https://youtube.com/@quaxys_academy?si=qWc5vZoIs1MJwFV3)—where I delve into intricacies and provide practical insights on both microwave and quantum engineering topics. This initiative aims to make valuable knowledge in these domains accessible to a diverse group of learners.
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