After a successful 17 years at IBM, it was not an obvious choice to continue my scientific quest in Korea. In fact after 5 years here, the curiosity about my choice remains consistent. Please let me tell you why I came, what we at QNS have accomplished so far, and where we’re headed.

Why I came to Korea and what I came here to do

My personal and scientific life in California were perfect, results were good, we made award-winning wine as a hobby, and my wife was a successful entrepreneur. But when we looked at staying where we were for the rest of our lives, we still wanted to be tested and grow. After conducting a worldwide search, I concluded that the most exciting and enticing opportunity was with the Institute for Basic Science in Korea. It was a surprising choice for those unfamiliar with the institution and the country, but after 5 years I am even more convinced of this opportunity than when I signed the contract. Why? To begin with, Korea is fast, dynamic, and embraces change. Our state-of-the-art facility alone could not have been built with the pace and quality in the US or Europe. I came here as the pioneer of quantum spins on surfaces, but my aspiration was to become a powerful force in the emerging field of quantum nanoscience. To accomplish this I started by gathering leading scientists from around the world to help me define the field, the result was to sharpen the focus on quantum coherence. By holding events and writing a seminal paper, other leading researchers from seemingly disparate fields now recognize themselves as part of this common field of quantum-coherent nanoscience.

What we’ve accomplished

To continue my answer of ‘why Korea’, I point to the pace and scale of what our start-up research center has been able to accomplish in terms of both speed and excellence. Combining these with exposure to IBM’s world-class scientific culture has resulted in achievements that are nothing short of remarkable.

Where we’re headed

I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished scientifically, and with our instrumentation, facility, and outstanding team we are just ready to really start taking off. We fully believe that our ambition to be one of the leading research centers in quantum nanoscience in the world will be successful. Of course, getting to this point has been enormously challenging. There are also enough potential threats in the environment that success is far from guaranteed. However, as an early mentor once told me, ‘In Korea nothing is possible and everything is possible’. Our team at QNS is united in engineering the quantum future by creating the foundational basic scientific knowledge that will enable Korean leadership in the dawning quantum era. In this way, I can attempt to repay Korea, IBS, and Ewha Womans University for the faith placed in me and our future together.

Director, Center for Quantum Nanoscience

Andreas Heinrich