Researchers will create quantum materials that could lead to the development of the first quantum computer in a new laboratory at the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC.)

The lab houses a unique deposition tool to grow materials that could form the building blocks of quantum technologies. Deposition systems ‘deposit’ layers of materials, a nanometer to several micrometers thick, to create materials for use in a wide range of technologies.

Quantum materials are building blocks

Quantum materials hold the promise of bringing quantum devices out of the lab and bringing the possibility of a quantum computer and other quantum devices one step closer.

The innovative $5 million deposition tool, built by Oxford Instruments Omicron NanoScience, features an Ultra High Vacuum (UHV) multi-chamber design to grow high-quality thin films and layered structures. Thin film structures are at the heart of today’s electronics, from computer chips to micro sensors.

Equipment that will produce quantum technology

This new tool, located in Professor Cory's lab will be used to produce quantum materials. 

The unique aspect of the new tool is the range of materials that can be grown within it - from oxides and metals to superconductors and topological insulators – a novel type of material exhibiting unique quantum behaviour. Contrary to typical deposition systems, this lab will have the ability to grow magnetic materials, superconductors and topological insulators within the same system without breaking vacuum.

“New materials are not conventional, so we need to take an unconventional approach to this research,” said Professor David Cory, Canada Excellence Research Chair and deputy director, research at IQC. “The Institute for Quantum Computing has made a significant investment in quantum materials research and the most promising direction for building quantum devices is quantum materials.”

The new tool features a combination of molecular beam epitaxy and sputtering, two well-developed deposition techniques, to grow these materials. Researchers hope this innovative regime will provide a new direction for the development of quantum materials.

Advancing quantum technologies

“The Institute for Quantum Computing is proud to be the home of this world-leading research,” said Professor Raymond Laflamme, Executive Director of IQC. “David Cory’s work in quantum materials, and the research of his colleagues here at IQC, are accelerating the pace of advancement in the quantum revolution.”

This new lab further extends Cory’s research program, which now totals over $40 million, and is an essential tool for fellow IQC Professor Guo-Xing Miao's  research on quantum materials and spintronics – a new generation of electronics that also harnesses the spin, the intrinsic magnetic moment, of an electron to carry information.

"The future of technology rests in the quantum world,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo. “The research happening here at the University of Waterloo and the Institute for Quantum Computing builds on our international reputation for research excellence and we expect that the results will trigger a quantum revolution to replace the digital age.”

The Government of Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Research Fund, industry partners and others helped fund the new lab