December 9, 2019

Mihir Pendharkar

Mihir Pendharkar is a young researcher from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). He received his PhD in Electrical Engineering at UCSB in 2019. Mihir joined UCSB in Fall 2011 and started working with the Chris Palmstrøm group, in Spring 2012, on low temperature VIS-IR spectroscopy and transmission spectroscopy of various III-V semiconductors. As part of his PhD, he has been working on MBE growth of low dimensional narrow band gap III-V semiconductors (quantum wires and wells). His current work emphasizes on growth of superconductor-semiconductor heterostructures for topological quantum computing.

Mihir Pendharkar has received UCSB’s University Award of Distinction (2018), Ovshinsky Student Award from the American Physical Society’s Division of Materials Physics (2018) and Young Scientist Award from the Conference on Physics & Chemistry of Surfaces & Interfaces (2018) among other awards.

Mihir’s research interests are Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) growth of III-V semiconductor-superconductor heterostructures, Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) and topological quantum computing.

Pendharkar’s PhD thesis was based on the device heterostructure design, MBE growth and preliminary low temperature electrical characterization of superconductor-semiconductor hybrid systems hosting predicted Majorana Zero Modes (MZMs). Majorana fermions are a unique class of particles which are their own anti-particles. This concept is realized in MZMs, which are quasi-particles bound to zero energy, with no measurable charge and mass. These quasi-particles are predicted to exhibit non-abelian braiding statistics, allowing them to “remember” whether they were moved clockwise or counterclockwise around each other, forming a braid in time and position. Being their own anti-particles, fusion or annihilation of a pair of MZMs is expected to lead to a different outcome based on how they were braided, making a pair of MZMs the simplest quantum bit or ‘qubit’, forming the basis of topological quantum computation. Pendharkar’s PhD thesis focuses on addressing some of the materials aspects of this challenge.