Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Student Theodore Todorov Joins Young Research Fellowship

First-year aerospace engineering student, Theodore Todorov, has been selected as a CFSA-SOURCE Young Research Fellow at Syracuse University. For the next two years, he’ll work with assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, Pankaj K. Jha, and his team in the Quantum Technology Laboratory on classical and quantum optics projects.  

Quantum optics involves studying the nature of light and how it interacts with matter. For decades, researchers have used quantum optics to better understand quantum mechanics, the study of how atomic particles interact with each other. This research has led to numerous technological developments that have now become known as the quantum revolution, or Quantum 2.0, and with his team, Professor Jha has continued conducting research on quantum technology in his lab.  

Offered by Syracuse University’s Center for Fellowship and Scholarship and the Syracuse Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Engagement, the Young Research Fellows Program supports students passionate about research. With guidance from their faculty mentors, this fellowship gives students practical experience in early research and creative inquiry development. 

Some of Jha’s research focuses on novel materials that can be thinned down to a single layer of atoms and used to build extremely sensitive photodetectors that can detect light at the level of single photons. In the fellowship, Todorov’s projects will involve studying and characterizing these photodetectors and photon counting for space applications, including quantum communications, imaging distant objects, and extending the range of clear air turbulences.   

Todorov first discovered his passion for writing abstracts, collecting data, and drawing conclusions through a research course he took in high school. His fascination with telescopes, quantum optics and space exploration also piqued his interest in aerospace engineering, and following his arrival at Syracuse University, he desired to connect with other students and faculty who had similar interests – this made the fellowship program at Syracuse University more than ideal for him. 

“I’m happy to be a part of the Young Research Fellows Program and the community that this program wants to foster,” Todorov said.  

“Quantum optics and photonics for space applications is exciting research, and we are delighted to have Theodore join our team,” Jha added.  

The fellowship hasn’t stopped Todorov from pursuing other projects this summer. He’s currently working with Syracuse University’s Center of Excellence in Environmental Energy Systems on research, creating sensor boxes so the team can position them around campus and measure air quality.  

In the upcoming fall, he also plans to study the principles of classical and quantum optics and get trained in the Quantum Technology Laboratory in various experimental techniques and equipment, including lasers, single-photon detectors, and counters. He’ll focus on understanding and conducting classical and quantum interference experiments at the single photon level, analyzing the data, and writing a research paper by the end of the semester to present his work at a conference the following spring.