Jonathan Simon

Dept. of Physics, James Franck Institute, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, and the College

Jonathan Simon
GCIS E-207
Google Scholar}


Jon grew up fascinated with electronics, programming, simulating the world, and soccer. He went to Montgomery Blair for highschool, where he was captain of the game programming club and the chess team. As an undergraduate at Caltech, he led the Beavers to a 1-63 record (seriously- they were terrible) over his 3 seasons on the NCAA DIII soccer team, all while learning physics and building electronics. As a graduate student and postdoc at MIT & Harvard, Jon focused primarily on cavity QED and synthetic quantum matter in optical lattices, while achieiving the distinction of coming in dead last in the Head of the Charles Regatta Club 8's. On weekends he kitesurfed on the cape.

As faculty at UChicago, Jon's passions for light, simulation, and circuits have combined in the study of quantum & classical matter made of light. In his spare time he grapples @ Valko BJJ, flies drones, and trains his cat Emmy to perform tricks.


Jon's group focuses on exploring synthetic quantum matter using the unique tools available through quantum and classical optics. We typically think of photons as non-interacting, wave-like particles. By harnessing recent innovations in Rydberg-cavity- and circuit- quantum electrodynamics, the Simonlab is able to make photons interact strongly with one another, mimicking collisions between charged electrons. By confining these photons in ultra-low-loss metamaterial structures, the teams "teach" the photons to behave as though they have mass, are in traps, and are experiencing magnetic fields, all by using the structures to tailor the optical dispersion. In total, this provides a unique platform to explore everything from Weyl-semi-metals, to fractional quantum hall puddles, to Mott insulators and quantum dots, all made of light.

The new tools developed in this endeavor, from twisted fabry-perot resonators, to Rydberg atom ensembles, Floquet-modulated atoms, and coupled cavity optical mode converters, have broad applications in information processing and communication. Indeed, we are now commissioning a new experiment aimed at interconverting optical and mm-wave photons using Rydberg atoms inside of crossed optical and superconducting millimeter resonators as the transducer.

Selected Publications

News & Highlights