Seed fund backs $2.8M in new quantum ideas at the University of Waterloo

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Improving thermal medical imaging of the eye with a new quantum camera and new class of semiconductor quantum materials are among the goals of six projects recently supported by the Quantum Quest Seed Fund (QQSF).

Awarded by Transformative Quantum Technologies (TQT), thanks in part to the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, QQSF encourages new ideas and applications for quantum technologies, supporting TQT’s mission to accelerate the development and deployment of impactful quantum devices. The fund also aims to leverage new opportunities with researchers who don’t normally work with quantum devices and encourage innovation in the field. To date, 28 projects have been awarded across the University of Waterloo, and $2.8 million in funding distributed.

Improving thermal medical imaging of the eye with a new quantum camera

Michael Reimer (Engineering), Kostadinka Bizheva (Department of Physics and Astronomy), Karim Karim (Engineering) and Peter Levine (Engineering)

Non-invasive imaging of the retina allows ophthalmologists to diagnose potential blinding diseases like macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Current cameras based on classical materials have limited resolution to visualize the cellular and sub-cellular tissue structure of the eye due to their low sensitivity.

Michael Reimer and his colleagues will develop a line scan camera based on a novel quantum material based on the results of an earlier QQSF project with a high sensitivity to enable sub-micrometre resolution when imaging the retina. With such a high level of detail, the new device will non-invasively provide images of comparable resolution and contrast to invasive procedures like histology. Physicist Kostadinka Bizheva will implement and test the new infrared camera for use in optical coherence tomography to image the eye with sub-micron resolution. The quantum sensor nanowire array itself will be developed by Reimer’s group and integrated into a CMOS sensor with Profs. Karim and Levine.

Tuning Spin-Exchange Interactions in Low-Dimensional Metal Halide Perovskites: A New Class of Semiconductor Quantum Materials

Pavle Radovanovic (Department of Chemistry)

A promising nanocrystalline compound has received much research interest for its applicability in photovoltaic cells, light emitting diodes, photodetectors and lasers. However, instability caused by organic groups within the compound has limited its commercialization potential. Chemist Pavle Radovanovic aims to develop a new class of quantum materials based on a similar nanocrystal structure with the organic groups replaced by inorganic compounds.

These new materials will be low-dimensional diluted magnetic superconductors with tunable coupling between charge and spin degrees of freedom. The complex electronic structure of these materials will also allow researchers to address a variety of quantum states using an external magnetic field. Ultimately, this approach could enable manipulation of the interactions between these quantum states as a potential pathway to quantum information processing and quantum computing. In addition to fundamental studies laying the groundwork for the application of these new quantum materials, Professor Radovanovic will seek to develop prototype quantum information processing devices.

Together, all six projects received a total of $583,000 in seed funding from cycles five and six. The other funded projects funded were:

  • Quantum Material Multilayer Photonic Devices and Network (Na Young Kim, Engineering)
  • Advanced Microwave Electronics Enabling Quantum Technologies (Raafat Mansour and Christopher Wilson, Engineering)
  • Towards Large Area, Resonant Quantum Tunneling Diodes by Continuous Langmuir Transfer of Exfoliated 2D Materials (Michael Pope and Na Young Kim, Engineering)
  • A Reformulation of Quantum Game Theory (John Watrous, Math)