Mehul Malik

2024 United Kingdom Award Finalist — Faculty

Mehul Malik

Current Position:
Professor of Physics, Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies

Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics

Recognized for: Advancing quantum communications through groundbreaking techniques that harness high-dimensional entanglement, a complex quantum physics phenomenon. Malik’s innovations enable the normally fragile entanglement to survive long distances and harsh conditions, laying the foundation for noise-robust and high-capacity quantum networks that securely transmit large amounts of information encoded on individual photons.


Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Quantum Physics, Quantum Photonics, Optics, Entanglement, Structured Light

Previous Positions: 

  • MS, University of Rochester, USA
  • PhD and Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of Rochester, USA (Advisor: Robert W. Boyd)
  • Marie Curie Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Vienna, Austria (Advisor: Anton Zeilinger)
  • Senior Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, IQOQI Vienna, Austria (Advisor: Marcus Huber)
  • Assistant Professor and Associate Professor, Heriot-Watt University

Research Summary:

While still in its infancy, quantum communication technology holds the promise of unprecedented levels of information security, positioning itself as the indispensable backbone for the future functioning of human society. Amidst the current wave of researchers implementing existing quantum communication techniques, Mehul Malik, PhD, stands out as a visionary, peering ahead to a time when these methods will inevitably encounter their capacity limits. He has pioneered groundbreaking technologies poised to overcome these limitations.

Malik’s work delves into the intricacies of a complex quantum physics phenomenon known as high-dimensional entanglement. In this phenomenon, two or more photons exhibit such a profound connection that measuring one photon instantaneously lets you know the state of the others, no matter how far apart they are. Breaking records in both the number of photons and quantum dimensions entangled, Malik has achieved the most complex forms of entanglement, to date. Crucially, he has also enabled the typically fragile entanglement to endure extended transportation distances and thrive in noisy real-world environments. This technology encodes significantly more information on individual photons and enhances security against specific errors and quantum attacks, as compared with current quantum communication techniques. This remarkable achievement garnered coverage from 145 news outlets globally.

Malik's contributions extend beyond mere physical breakthroughs. He has also developed practical quantum communication protocols leveraging the advantages of multi-photon high-dimensional entanglement and has demonstrated its unprecedented transport through a complex scattering medium. These protocols facilitate the secure transmission of massive amounts of information based purely on the laws of quantum physics, rather than a complex code that could be broken by a powerful enough computer. In essence, Malik has laid the foundation for high-capacity and noise-robust quantum networks of the future, offering exceptionally high data rates while maintaining unconditional information security.

“Quantum entanglement says something profound about the nature of reality, while also enabling exciting advances in technology. I find it incredible that I can go into the lab on any given day and entangle quantum particles of light in space and time!”

Key Publications: 

  1. V. Srivastav, N.H. Valencia, W. McCutcheon, S. Leedumrongwatthanakun, S. Designolle, R. Uola, N. Brunner, M. Malik. Quick Quantum Steering: Overcoming Loss and Noise with Qudits. Physical Review X, 2022.
  2. N.H. Valencia, S. Goel, W. McCutcheon, H. Defienne, M. Malik. Unscrambling Entanglement through A Complex Medium. Nature Physics, 2020.
  3. J. Bavaresco, N.H. Valencia, C. Klöckl, M. Pivoluska, P. Erker, N. Friis, M. Malik, M. Huber. Measurements in Two Bases Are Sufficient for Certifying High-dimensional Entanglement. Nature Physics, 2018.
  4. M. Malik, M. Erhard, M. Huber, M. Krenn, R. Fickler, A. Zeilinger. Multi-photon Entanglement in High Dimensions. Nature Photonics, 2016.

Other Honors: 

2023  Chair in Emerging Technologies, Royal Academy of Engineering
2023  International Quantum Technology Early Career Award (Highly Commended), Institute of Physics (IOP)
2021  RSE/Thomas Makdougall Brisbane Medal, Royal Society of Edinburgh
2021  Starting Grant, European Research Council
2020  Elected Member, Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy
2018  Early Career Fellow, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, UKRI
2016  Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting Delegate, Austrian Federal Ministry Scholarship
2013  Marie Curie Actions: International Incoming Fellow, University of Vienna, Austria
2012  Emil Wolf Outstanding Student Paper Award, Optical Society of America

In the Media: 

The Independent Research Paves Way for Communications That Cannot Be Hacked, Scientists Say

BBC NewsScientists Shed New Light on ‘Entangled’ Particles

Der StandardWiener Forscher Erzielten Robustere Quantenverschränkung

Phys.orgNew Study Could Hold Key to Hack-Proof Systems

New Scientist Twisted Light Beams a Greeting Over a Record Distance of 143 Km

La RechercheMultiplier Les Canaux D’information Quantique

Wiener ZeitungAuch Quanten Können Pirouetten Drehen