The power of quantum

Message from the Chair of IQC's Advisory Board

Mike Lazaridis Chair of IQC's Advisory BoardThe unique principles of quantum mechanics make possible new applications, materials and transformative technologies that are simply impossible under classical rules. The pursuit of these opportunities is what led us to establish at the University of Waterloo and the other partner organizations in the Quantum Valley. It is this same pursuit that drives the growing number of outstanding researchers at IQC to continue in their research and development efforts.

With access to state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge tools (many of which are first of their kind), IQC researchers continue to advance our fundamental understanding of quantum information science and continue to develop new quantum technologies that will have broad societal value. These efforts are also driving the establishment of a quickly growing number of quantum startup companies in Canada, as more and more global industry players recognize the unique capability of our quantum researchers and entrepreneurs.

I am pleased to announce two new faculty who are joining our roster of world class researchers. Firstly, a former postdoctoral fellow, theorist David Gosset, is returning to IQC as an Associate Professor after working at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Centre. David’s fundamental algorithmic research will refine quantum algorithms guided by quantum computers. Secondly, Joel Wallman has been working at IQC since 2013, first as a postdoctoral fellow, then as a Research Assistant Professor. Today, he is an Assistant Professor whose research focuses on simulating quantum systems.

Powered by people, some recent advances by IQC researchers include:

  • A quantum sensor that outperforms existing technologies and promises significant advancements in long-range 3D imaging and monitoring the success of cancer treatments (Michael Reimer’s group);
  • A broadband, two-phase grating interferometer technique, paving the way for advances in imagining, material sciences and quantum research (Dmitry Pushin and David Cory’s groups);
  • Research that shows certain error correcting codes turn complex coherent errors into much simpler ones. This innovation makes it possible to determine error rates and thresholds and optimize recovery in real-world quantum computers (Raymond Laflamme’s group);
  • Techniques to allow for direct measurement of entanglement on picosecond time scales, crucial for both understanding the unique features of time-entangled photons and for achieving high-resolution quantum-enhanced measurement in space and time (Kevin Resch’s group);
  • Research that shows a class of algorithms that outperforms any classical algorithms and is suitable for near-term quantum devices as the circuit depth is constant (David Gosset); and
  • New quantum material that shows an extremely large response to a magnetic field and relevant to engineering of quantum technologies (Wei Tsen’s group).

Our theorists and experimentalists continue to push towards the development of general purpose quantum computers here at IQC. Our two ion trapping labs, led by Crystal Senko and Rajibul Islam, are successfully up and running. This is the first exciting step in building out quantum simulators and eventually quantum
computing applications.

To strengthen innovation and development in this research, matching funds from the University of Waterloo and industry partners including Quantum Valley Investments has resulted in IQC’s $140 million Transformative Quantum Technologies (TQT) effort led by Professor David Cory. Key to this has been the defining of a new innovation cycle specifically for quantum and establishing the infrastructure to enable it. With support of CFREF, UW, CFI and industry, TQT has built a resource that provides a complete implementation of tools for design, fabrication, testing and deploying quantum technology. This infrastructure attracts quantum researchers, making IQC a growing center for academic and industrial quantum R&D. A new initiative, and key part of the innovation cycle, is the building of quantum simulators. These provide testbeds for understanding both quantum materials and the engineering of quantum devices. Three simulators are currently being deployed and will become shared resources.

The result of these advances is a growing number of exciting new quantum businesses, that in one way or another are connected to IQC. These businesses continue to gain traction with global industry and attract investment from both strategic investors from around the world and the international venture capital community.

With all of the progress that is being made, it’s almost hard to believe that we are only just scratching the surface in terms of what we believe is possible with quantum. There is no doubt that there will be exciting developments in the coming year and in the coming decade for quantum mechanics in a large number of fields. I am both pleased and very proud that IQC and its Quantum Valley partners continue to play a leadership role in this new and exciting global industry.