UO physicist receives prized NASA research grant

NASA has selected a research proposal by UO physics professor Brian Smith as one of eight it will fund to study technologies in the early stage of development.

Smith’s project, “Quantum Communication Links using Coherent Filter-Based Transmitter-Receiver Pairs,” will receive up to $650,000 in grants from NASA's Space Technology Research Grants program over three years. The funds will provide his research team both time and resources to study the development of quantum communications technologies.

“Quantum communications systems can provide unprecedented security as well as enable novel sensing and computational power distributed through a large quantum network, not possible with conventional communications technology,” Smith said.

His research team will develop methods to better communicate data using space-to-ground quantum links. To suppress background noise, the research team will use a filter developed by UO physics professor and co-investigator Michael Raymer to reduce background noise to the theoretical minimum, increasing the successful data rate.

The Space Technology Research Grants program is funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which supports the development of groundbreaking space technologies to enable future missions. The directorate is testing capabilities on the moon that will be critical for crewed missions to Mars, and Smith’s study of quantum communications may prove useful for deep-space optical communication.

To read more about Smith’s project and the other grant recipients, check out the NASA Space Tech webpage.

 –By Alyson Johnston, College of Arts and Sciences