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Student Spotlight: PhD Candidate Invents a Safer Lock

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, PhD candidate Erica Grant is the subject of a spotlight this week. When Grant was an undergraduate physics major, she volunteered with the safety-awareness nonprofit Help Save the Next Girl. Her interest in security piqued, she watched seminars from a DEF CON hacker convention in Las Vegas and saw demonstrations of just how insecure smart locks can be.

Grant’s research goes along with her invention of a new security system for hotels and manufacturing facilities. “Quantum Lock,” uses quantum computing to develop a lock keyed to batches of random numbers from a central hub.

In Knoxville’s Innov865 Startup Day, Quantum Lock won the $3,000 Crowd Favorite prize. Grant also pitched at the Raising & Rising Event and the Innovation Crossroads Showcase during Knoxville’s Startup Week.

In the 2020 Collegiate Inventors Competition run by the US Patent and Trademark Office, Grant was selected as one of five graduate student finalists, and on October 27 and 28 she competed in a virtual format. Unfortunately, she did not win. “It was a huge honor to be a part of the competition,” she said. “It’s been two years of hard work.” In another milestone, she received a patent for Quantum Lock on October 6, and two weeks ago successfully defended her PhD dissertation.

Read more about Erica Grant in an Engineering and Technology article on UT’s News & Information page.