Jacques Carolan

Jacques Carolan

Quantum Engineer

Science Communicator


I am a researcher at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, developing photonic technologies to accelerate quantum and classical computing.

Previously, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Quantum Photonics Lab and a PhD student at the University of Bristol Centre for Quantum Photonics.

​I have been awarded a Marie-Skłodowska Curie Global Fellowship, attended the 66th Landau Nobel Laureates Meeting and was a UK finalist in FameLab.


My research develops new methods to accelerate computing through a combination of photonics, quantum algorithms and machine learning; with equal emphasis on hardware development and applications.

Programmable Photonics

Universal optical processors are photonic devices that can be reprogrammed to implement a variety of transformations, all on a single chip. Such programable photonics may enable breakthroughs in quantum computing, artificial intelligence, imaging and signals processing.

Quantum for AI & AI for Quantum

I’m fascinated by the intersection of machine learning and quantum mechanics; both in terms of how we can use quantum processors to accelerate machine learning and how we can leverage techniques from machine learning to help control and verify large-scale quantum systems.

Quantum Photonics

I develop large-scale quantum photonic processors in which information is encoded in quantum states of light and controlled on-chip via state-of-the-art photonic integrated circuits (PICs). In parallel, I’m developing a new suite of quantum protocols specifically designed for photonic hardware.


I’m a passoinate communicator with experience in standup and improvised comedy; stage and screen science outreach; and writing. If you would like to collaborate on a project please reach out.


I’m an improv comedian and standup comic, and have performed across New England and Old England.

Confessions of a Clumsy Scientist

Confessions of a Clumsy Scientist brings together totally true, anonymous stories of monumental mess-ups by real life scientists.


I was a UK Finalist and Wales Winner in the international science communication competition FameLab.

Sir Antony Gormley

I interviewed Turner prize winning artist Sir Anthony Gormley for Bloombergs ‘Brilliant Ideas’.

South West Futurists

I gave a talk at the South West Futurists explaining how to build a quantum computer using light.

Tom Scott

I spent some time explaining the principles of quantum computing to YouTube science personality Tom Scott.


In a former life I studied Philosophy. Now, in collaboration with some great friends — Karim Thébault and Dominik Hangleiter — we’ve been giving a philosophical treatment to the emerging field of analogue quantum simulation. The arXiv paper can be found here, which we are turning into a book to be published by Springer in 2021. This project is the culmination of a chance meeting, unlimited enthusiasm and many, many Skype meetings. I’m deeply grateful to my collaborators for allowing an annoying experimentalist to join for the ride.

Analogue quantum simulation: A philosophical prospectus

“This paper provides the first systematic philosophical analysis of an increasingly important part of modern scientific practice: analogue quantum simulation. We introduce the distinction between ‘simulation’ and ‘emulation’ as applied in the context of two case studies. Based upon this distinction, and building upon ideas from the recent philosophical literature on scientific understanding, we provide a normative framework to isolate and support the goals of scientists undertaking analogue quantum simulation and emulation. We expect our framework to be useful to both working scientists and philosophers of science interested in cutting-edge scientific practice.”


I developed the class How to Program a Quantum Computer for MIT’s Independent Activity Period. The class explores fundamental concepts in quantum computing through a series of hands-on tutorials, where participants interactively learn by programming a quantum simulator. We introduce state-of-the-art quantum algorithms, leading approaches to quantum hardware and an overview of error mechanisms alongside techniques for error correction. The course culminated in a group project where participants could run their own quantum algorithm on an actual quantum computer!

The course was open to everyone, especially those with no prior experience in quantum information. The lecture slides can be found here and the code to run the tutorials can be found on my GitHub, which can be easily launched via MyBinder.


How to verify that quantum chips are computing correctly

MIT News features Variational Quantum Unsampling

Variational Unsampling

Nature Review Physics features Variational Quantum Unsampling as a research highlight

​One Small Optical Chip, One Giant Leap for Quantum Computing

Vice Motherboard features Universal Linear Optics

Quantum processing scales up and bursts out from theory to reality

My Marie Skłodowska-Curie project ‘VLS-QPP’ was featured on the European Commission website Cordis.

​Integrated solution for quantum technologies

Interviewed by Nature Photonics News and Views on integrated quantum technologies

The Best of the Physics arXiv

MIT Technology Review highlights Quantum Optical Neural Networks as one of the week’s most though provoking papers.