Science that matters: Master’s student researches noise fluctuations in superconducting devices used for quantum bits
Andree Coschizza’s research revolves around low-temperature physics for quantum computing applications. One of the main barriers in quantum computing is that the necessary two-level quantum systems only become prominent at very low temperatures (often below 100 mK).
As a Master of Science in Physics (Nanotechnology) student, in the lab, her team runs fridges that reach a base temperature of 45 mK through a combination of cryogenic liquids and pulse tube cooling systems. By connecting probes to micron-scale samples, they take electronic transport measurements that capture the behaviour of devices at different applied voltages, temperatures, and magnetic fields. With this, they can provide feedback to the fabrication team to optimize process parameters and improve their devices.
Coschizza’s main research project is in collaboration with D-Wave Inc., a quantum-computing company based in Burnaby, British Columbia. It’s focused on noise fluctuations in Josephson junctions – superconducting devices that can be used for qubits (quantum bits). These fluctuations are an extremely important consideration for quantum computing, as too much noise can cause a qubit to decohere, losing the information encoded.
What drew you to study in the Master of Science in Physics (Nanotechnology) program at Waterloo?
After completing my undergraduate degree in physics at the University of British Columbia, I was interested in pursuing an education focused on material growth, device fabrication, and low-temperature measurement techniques. The Physics - Nanotechnology program at the University of Waterloo allows me to blend these topics and meet students from other faculties with similar interests, all while incorporating a strong experimental physics component.
How did you choose your supervisor? And what is your working relationship like?
Before I chose Waterloo, I spent a long time chatting with potential supervisors from different universities about their mentorship and managerial styles. Selecting a graduate program is important, and I wanted to make sure I was choosing a team not only for their research, but for the opportunity to be mentored and guided throughout the experimental process. I was looking for a supportive, hands-on supervisor who would also give me the space to learn independently.
After much debate, I chose my supervisor, Dr. Jan Kycia, because he has a personalized approach to mentorship, is extremely knowledgeable in his field, and is always eager to share his advice with students. While he is busy, he is always available in person or through email and often recommends resources for further research and learning opportunities.
How are you enjoying Waterloo?
I really enjoy living in Waterloo! I have found a great community of friends and have joined the Mambo Club and the climbing gym at the Physical Activities Complex on campus. Outside of the university, there are so many things to explore. The arts and culture team at the City of Waterloo does a great job and puts on several events, festivals, and markets throughout the year!