Do you know that everything around us has wave nature, too and matter at its fundamental level exists only as a probability? Well, this is just one of the facts from Quantum Physics. Quantum Physics is considered one of the most challenging and bizarre fields of science where the results are so counter-intuitive that even the greatest of scientists, like Albert Einstein, struggled with it. If you love to study such counter-intuitive ideas and aspire to become a Quantum physicist, this blog is for you.
In this blog, we will discuss the following:
- What is Quantum Physics?
- What does a Quantum Physicist do?
- Path to follow
- Scope of QM in India
What is Quantum Physics?
Quantum physics is a branch of physics that studies the behaviour of matter and energy at a molecular and subatomic level. It is an emerging and exciting field of study, with potential applications in various areas ranging from quantum computing to renewable energy. Its applications include quantum computing, communication, sensors, materials, and optics. It can potentially revolutionise many fields, from cryptography to drug discovery and our understanding of the universe. Its principles, applications, and potential are crucial for shaping the future of technology and scientific research.
The development of quantum mechanics, or quantum theory, began in the early 20th century. It was first formulated by Max Planck in 1900, who proposed energy transfer in “quanta,” or packets of energy, rather than in a continuous flow. This radically different approach to physics was further developed by Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, and others over the following decades.
What does a Quantum Physicist do?
A quantum physicist specialises in studying the behaviour of matter and energy at the atomic and subatomic levels. These professionals use theories and principles of quantum mechanics to understand the universe’s nature better and create new technologies and applications that rely on quantum properties. They conduct experiments and use advanced mathematical models to analyse and interpret the data they collect. They may work in academic institutions, government agencies, research laboratories, or private industries. Some industries employ quantum physicists to develop quantum technologies, including computing and telecommunications, materials science and engineering, finance, healthcare, and aerospace.
Quantum physicists may collaborate with other scientists, engineers, and technicians to design and execute complex experiments, share findings and data, and develop applications that leverage the principles of quantum mechanics. In short, quantum physicists play a critical role in advancing the understanding of the universe and developing technologies that have the potential to transform our world.
Path to Follow
To become a quantum physicist, you must first earn a Bachelor’s degree in Physics. After finishing your XII, you can pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from a recognised university. There are many such institutes in India:
- Indian Institute of Science (IISc)
- Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs)
- National Institutes of Technology (NITs)
- Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER)
- National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER)
- Delhi University (DU)
- Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS)
- Harish-Chandra Research Institute (HRI)
You must excel in the fundamentals of classical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, linear algebra, calculus, statistics and probability. After completing your Bachelor’s degree, you can pursue a Master’s degree in Physics or a related field such as Quantum Physics, Theoretical Physics, Materials Science, or Nanoscience. This program will provide you with deeper insights into quantum physics’s theoretical and experimental aspects, which will be essential as you progress in your career. Some institutes also offer integrated BS-MS, which is usually for five years.
Mathematics is a fundamental requirement for mastering quantum mechanics. You need to be strong in calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, and probability theory. Therefore, it is crucial to take as many courses in mathematics as possible, both during your Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Quantum Physics requires heavy computational tools (like FORTRAN, MATLAB, MATHEMATICA, etc.) to solve complex mathematical equations. You must improve your programming as well as computational skills. You can join various online courses or can learn through YouTube.
To become a quantum physicist, it is vital to engage in research. You can apply for various summer Internships where you can work with a mentor or professor in a research laboratory or on a specific project. This will help you gain hands-on experience in conducting experiments, analysing data, and publishing research papers. You can also attend scientific conferences and discuss your research with other physicists in your field. If you want to know more about internship programs and their procedures, check out our other blogs.
PhD in Quantum Physics allows you to explore the subject in-depth and focus on a specific area of research related to quantum physics. During your PhD program, you will work on your own research project and further advance your knowledge in quantum physics. You can apply to the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Indian Institute of Science (IISc), International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS), etc. After completing your PhD, you can gain experience in academia or industry. In academia, you can pursue postdoctoral research positions and become a research scientist or faculty member at a university/institute. You can choose any institute listed above. You can work in areas such as quantum information technologies, telecommunications, energy, healthcare, and more in industry. These companies include QuNu Labs, Qrypt, and Quantum Motion Technologies.
Scope of Quantum Physicists in India:
A quantum physicist can pursue a career in academia as a professor or a researcher. They can work in prestigious institutions such as the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), and many other universities and research institutes. In academia, a quantum physicist can conduct cutting-edge research, teach and mentor students, and publish research papers in top journals. Salaries in academia depend on experience and qualifications but typically range from INR 8-15 lakhs per annum for an assistant professor, INR 15-25 lakhs per annum for an associate professor, and INR 25-50 lakhs per annum for a professor.
Quantum physicists are also in high demand in industries that require expertise in quantum technologies, such as quantum computing, quantum communication, and quantum cryptography. Companies such as IBM, Google, Microsoft, and Accenture have established research centres in India and are hiring quantum physicists to work on their research projects. In addition to these multinational companies, several Indian startups, such as QNu Labs and Quantica Computacao, are also developing quantum technologies and hiring quantum physicists. Salaries in the industry depend on experience and qualifications but typically range from INR 10-20 lakhs per annum for a junior research scientist to INR 50-80 lakhs per annum for a senior researcher or team leader. Some specific job roles that a quantum physicist can pursue in India include:
- Quantum computing researcher: developing algorithms and software for quantum computers.
- Quantum communication engineer: developing protocols and devices for secure communication using quantum technologies.
- Quantum cryptography expert: developing secure communication protocols using the principles of quantum mechanics (quantum entanglement).
- Quantum information scientist: studying the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics and their applications in information theory and computation.
- Quantum materials researcher: studying the properties of materials at the quantum level and developing new materials for quantum technologies.
Overall, becoming a quantum physicist requires a significant amount of dedication and hard work. Starting from your Bachelor’s degree to research, earning a PhD, and building a foundation in mathematics, are all steps that will build you up for a successful career in quantum physics. Pursuing the field of quantum physics in India can be a rewarding experience for those passionate about exploring the complexities of nature and who enjoy finding solutions to the unknown. Still, exploring such opportunities in foreign research institutions is a good idea.
If you are interested in astronomy and want to pursue it as your career, check out our other blogs.
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