New quantum technology projects receive funding boost

Monday, March 4, 2019

Detecting chemicals in water with quantum sensors and developing new materials to enable topological quantum computing are among the goals of eight projects recently supported by the Quantum Quest Seed Fund (QQSF).

Awarded by Transformative Quantum Technologies (TQT), the fund encourages new ideas and uncovers new opportunities from diverse fields outside the scope of researchers working day-to-day with quantum devices, and supports TQT’s mission to accelerate the development and deployment of impactful quantum devices. To date, 22 projects have been awarded, and $2.2 million in funding distributed.

Quantum sensors to keep our water clean

Kevin Musselman, assistant professor in the Faculty of Engineering, is leading a project to develop next-generation chemical sensors. He aims to create new functionalized quantum dots of 2D materials for the sensing of four highly-toxic heavy metal pollutants: arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury.

 “The zero-dimensional nature of quantum dots leads to unique properties that make them very promising for fluorescence-based chemical sensing. These properties include strong absorption, strong fluorescence, solubility, and stability,” said Musselman. His proposed multimodal sensing platform can be used in the field, overcoming a barrier of existing techniques that are currently not suitable for on-site analysis of water contamination.

Enabling topological qubits for quantum computing

An ideal quantum computing system allows for easy coupling of qubits and strong decoupling of qubits from noise and dissipation.  “However, in nearly all proposed qubit systems, these two attributes are often found in inverse relationship to each other,” explained funding recipient Zbigniew Wasilewski, Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) associate and professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

In collaboration with IQC researchers Jonathan Baugh and François Sfigakis, Wasilewski is developing materials for Majorana-based topologically protected qubits on a computing platform that can be readily scaled to logical qubit devices.

Quantum Quest Awardees

The following projects have received more than $400,000 in funding since the first two rounds:

Cycle 3

  • Chiral quantum antenna based on multilayer metasurface
    Michal Bajcsy, Electrical and Computer Engineering

 Cycle 4

  • Combined momentum- and real-space photoelectric probes of dimensionality-tuned Weyl semimetals*
    Adam Wei Tsen, Chemistry
  • Novel High-Speed SPAD Arrays for Quantum Communication**
    Thomas Jennewein, Physics and Astronomy
  • Zero-dimensional quantum materials for the next generation of highly-selective chemical sensors
    Kevin Musselman, Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering
  • Free-space polarization-selective micro-cavity based on chiral meta-surfaces
    Michal Bajcsy, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Three additional projects received funding from the TQT Grand Challenge and Technology Development streams:

  • Inverse Photoemission Spectroscopy of Quantum Materials
    David Hawthorn, Physics and Astronomy
  • Quantum computational resources in the presence of symmetry***
    Joseph Emerson, Physics and Astronomy
  • Materials for Majorana-based topological qubits
     Zbigniew Wasilewski, Electrical and Computer Engineering

* Joint project with the University of British Columbia.
** Joint project with Université de Sherbrooke.
*** Joint project with Université de Sherbrooke and the University of British Columbia.

Read more about Collaborative Quantum Projects Announced in Joint Research Initiative by Université de Sherbrooke, University of British Columbia and the University of Waterloo.

TQT is funded in part thanks to the Canada First Excellence Research Fund (CFREF).