Wesley Campbell, associate professor of physics at UCLA, has been named a 2022 Moore Foundation Experimental Physics Investigator. He will receive $1.25 million over the next five years from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to develop quantum functional groups, customized molecule fragments that channel the quantum behaviors of atoms into predictable patterns. The technology could make quantum computers smaller, less energy intensive and more common.

The type of quantum behavior Campbell’s project seeks to stabilize in a functional group is known as optical cycling transitions, in which atoms stimulated by laser light emit photons that then decay to a ground state. Optical cycling transitions are used in a variety of ways for quantum information processing but run into a problem — once bound to other atoms in a molecule, the cycling behavior usually stops.

The Moore Foundation Experimental Physics Investigator awards provide an opportunity for scientists to pursue potentially transformative research following attainment of tenure. This funding allows physicists to concentrate on their research and build collaborative relationships that could lead to discoveries.