Joint Canada-UK funding boosts quantum technology projects

Friday, November 6, 2020

En français

Three Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) leads are among the recipients of a joint Canada-UK grant that brings together industry, government and academia to accelerate the development of quantum technologies.

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) announced the recipients of the funding at the UK National Quantum Technologies Showcase today.

Raymond Laflamme and Thomas Jennewein, faculty members at IQC and in the University of Waterloo’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Michele Mosca, faculty member at IQC and in the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization, will all receive funding for their projects.

Laflamme’s team will collaborate with researchers at the University College London (UCL) and with two start-up companies, UK-based Phasecraft and Kitchener, Ontario-based Quantum Benchmark, as part of a project to make noisy quantum processors practical for industry and research applications.

“We will develop robust implementations of quantum algorithms that can run successfully on today’s error-prone quantum computers,” said Michael Vasmer, a postdoctoral fellow in Laflamme’s group and at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. “Our work will speed up the demonstration of quantum advantage for industrial relevant problems such as the simulation of quantum systems.”

Jennewein’s team will collaborate with the Canadian Space Agency, UK-based aerospace company CraftProspect, and researchers at the University of Calgary, Strathclyde University and the University of Bristol to demonstrate the use of quantum technology for protecting commercial and national communications networks.

The project will implement a new approach and protocol that improves the integration and alignment of a quantum transmitter on a satellite.  The quantum key distribution technology developed in this project is targeted to fly onboard Canada’s Quantum Encryption and Science Satellite, extending the scope of the mission and demonstrating links to ground stations on both sides of the Atlantic.

“It is crucial that we combine and expertise from both sides,” said Jennewein. “Our UK partners are contributing their quantum key distribution source, while we will work with our Canadian partners to integrate that source for flight on QEYSSat. Both partners will conduct theory and experimental analysis for a new protocol that aims to simplify the satellite link.”

Mosca will work with IQC and physics and astronomy faculty member Norbert Lütkenhaus, combinatorics and optimization faculty member Douglas Stebila, Canadian companies QEYnet Inc. and Crypto4A, the Communications Security Establishment, the RHEA Group, UK-based company KETS Quantum Security, and the University of Bristol to build a standardized quantum-safe networking architecture.

The team will work to bring together quantum key distribution and post-quantum cryptography technologies and designs from both countries and combine them in order to develop a Canadian-UK secure network built on the security principles of quantum-safe technologies.

The funding will total $4,000,000 over three years, with a maximum of $400,000 per project, from NSERC. It will also include up to £2,000,000 in funding over three years, with a maximum of £300,000 per project, from Innovate UK.