Prof Aditi Sen (De): Daughter of Bengal Gets the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award

It is rather rare for a women scientist to win India’s most prestigious science prize, the Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar award.  Since 1958, when the award was first given, only 16 of the 535 recipients have been women, and there had been none in the physical sciences. This however changed in 2019 when Prof Aditi Sen De, 44 yrs, from the Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad was awarded the prize for her work in quantum information and computation.

Prof Sen works on quantum computing a rather esoteric area of physics which has the potential for far-reaching changes by making computers millions of times more efficient than anything available today. However, the problem is that no one has actually been able to build a quantum computer as yet.  Current computers work on a system of silicon transistors that store information as bits – either in the state of 0 or 1 – on a binary logic analogous to an on-off switch. On the other hand, quantum computers use qubits – a proton or an electron – that can exist as 0, 1 or any or any superposition of any possible combination of 0 and 1. However, there is a small problem which is stopping quantum computing to become a reality and awaits physicist and mathematicians to resolve it. Today’s physical quantum computers are very noisy and quantum error correction is required, but as on date, the optimal quantum mechanical state has yet to be achieved. Some of the finest brains in the world are working to resolve this issue and amongst them is Prof Sen.

Prof Sen did her class X from Sarada Ashrama Balika Vidyalaya, New Alipore, Kolkata and her class XII from Sakhawat Memorial Government Girls High School, Elgin, Kolkata. She completed her B.Sc from Bethune College and M.Sc in Mathematics from Raja Bazaar Science College. She obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Gdansk, Poland with a seminal thesis on ‘Manipulations of Quantum States and their Non-Classical Applications’.

She has held postdoctoral positions in University of Hannover, Germany and The Institute of Photonic Sciences, Spain. She started her career in academics at School of Physical Sciences, JNU before moving to the prestigious Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad, which is home to some of India’s best Physicists including the celebrated Prof Ashoke Sen. Prof Aditi is married to Prof Ujjwal Sen an outstanding Physicist in his own right.

Branolia Chemical Works feels proud that this daughter of Bengal has got such an outstanding recognition for her work. Role models like Prof Aditi Sen will inspire many more girls to take up sciences and tackle some of the biggest scientific challenges faced by the world.

Branolia Chemical Works wishes Prof Aditi Sen all the success in the future endeavours and hope that Prof Sen leads India to the breakthrough that will make quantum computing a reality.

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