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Sector Scoop: The Latest Quantum News from Waterloo

We're celebrating World Quantum Day by highlighting the latest quantum developments in Waterloo. Find out which people and organizations are driving Canada's quantum strategy forward in 2023.

April 14 is World Quantum Day, a day to promote quantum science and technology projects and practitioners around the world. It’s the perfect occasion to highlight some of the mind-bending developments that are happening close to home – right here in Waterloo.

With the potential to revolutionize industries such as healthcare, security and automotive, quantum computing uses the principles of quantum mechanics to solve complex problems that traditional computers can’t.

Nicknamed “Quantum Valley,” Waterloo has become a world-leader in quantum developing quantum technologies, including quantum computing, communication, security and sensing. We were already at the epicentre of the quantum revolution with these credits to our name:

  • 250 quantum researchers – the highest density of quantum tech researchers within a 1km/0.6mi radius in the world
  • 16+ companies specializing in quantum cryptography, software, communication and consulting, including Quantum Benchmark and ISARA
  • 2 of the world’s largest quantum and theoretical physics research centres, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo
  • The Quantum Valley Investment Fund which provides commercialization funding, expertise and support for quantum researchers

The situation escalated earlier this year when Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne came to Waterloo to launch a $360M National Quantum Strategy (NQS). The strategy, which will see major investments in quantum research, talent and commercialization, aims to strengthen Canada’s global leadership in quantum and create over 200,000 jobs.

The strategy wasn’t just born in Waterloo, it will also come to life here – with world-renowned quantum expert and founding director of IQC Dr. Raymond Laflamme joining co-chair Dr. Stephanie Simmons, founder and Chief Quantum Officer of Photonic, to lead the strategy’s Quantum Advisory Council.

" The National Quantum Strategy will support a resilient economy by strengthening our research, businesses and talent, giving Canada a competitive advantage for decades to come. "

François-Philippe Champagne

Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Top quantum stories from Waterloo

Since the NQS announcement in January, the quantum sector in Waterloo has been rumbling with activity and exciting developments. We’ve rounded up the top stories to show you just how quickly quantum is moving here.

A Programmable Structured Light Interferometer Has Shown Remarkable Advancements in Studying Disorders and Diseases of the Human Eye, April 12, 2023

Researchers from IQC, UWaterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science and the Center for Eye and Vision Research in Hong Kong have created a programmable structured light interferometer for studying macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in people over 60. The team used structured light beams to develop diagnostic tests for early detection of the disease, which currently has no cure, potentially improving the quality of life for millions worldwide.

QT’s Quantum Quest Seed Fund Awarded to Eight New Projects Spanning Quantum Materials to Quantum Dots, April 12, 2023

The Quantum Quest Seed Fund (QQSF) has awarded nearly $707,000 in funding to eight projects in its recent cycles. The QQSF, part of the Transformative Quantum Technologies (TQT) program, aims to accelerate quantum device development through innovative ideas and applications. Projects include research on 2D quantum materials, magnetic materials for quantum tech, quantum computing advancements and quantum dot applications for improved technology.

Canadian Quantum Graduate Students Connect in Waterloo, April 12, 2023

The Canadian Graduate Quantum Conference (CGQC) brought together graduate students involved in quantum technologies research for three days of keynote speakers, student presentations, lab tours, industry engagement and non-technical sessions. The conference, which focuses on quantum information, computing, communication, sensing and materials, aims to strengthen connections and share ideas among the quantum research community in Canada.

Using Quantum Technologies to Make Precise Early-Stage Diagnosis, March 29, 2023

Researchers at UWaterloo have received funding to develop quantum-based healthcare solutions, including a quantum diagnostic tool for early detection of macular degeneration using structured light patterns. The $10K funding will be used to apply for a patent and develop the project into a startup. Other funded projects include optical metamaterial detectors for clinical pathology and a real-time monitoring microfluidic platform for diabetes biomarker detection.

Mitigating Errors in Superconducting Quantum Circuits to Pave the Way for Future Quantum Computers, March 22, 2023

Researchers led by Dr. Matteo Mariantoni at IQC are studying the effects of defects called “two-level systems” (TLSs) on qubits in superconducting quantum circuits. Using resonators as probes, the team detected fluctuations caused by TLSs, which result in decoherence and loss of quantum information. The study revealed that TLS defects can impact qubit and resonator performance over time, leading to inconsistent results in quantum computation.

IQC Researchers Bring Theory to Reality with a New Experiment, March 14, 2023

Researchers at IQC have conducted the first experiment to activate vacuum zero-point energy using quantum entanglement. Using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to simulate a vacuum system, the experiment showed that energy could be extracted from a vacuum state through quantum energy teleportation by measuring auxiliary qubits. This has implications for quantum applications and our understanding of quantum theory, including insights into the black hole information paradox and improvements in quantum thermodynamics for quantum devices.

Connecting Canada and Europe Through Quantum Satellite Communication, March 6, 2023

Dr. Thomas Jennewein of IQC is leading HyperSpace, a three-year project to establish a quantum satellite link between Canada and Europe. The goal is to demonstrate secure quantum communication using entangled photons between ground stations. Research will focus on integrated quantum photonics and optical space communications. The HyperSpace satellite will be a double link node with two telescopes, investigating techniques for longer satellite links. The aim is to have the mission architecture ready for a potential EU-Canada quantum satellite mission by project’s end.

New Discovery May Be Key to Controlling Chemical Reactions, February 1, 2023

A study led by Dr. Alan Jamison from IQC and UWaterloo, in collaboration with MIT, has observed resonance frequencies between ultracold sodium-lithium molecules, challenging existing theoretical models. Resonance, where objects vibrate at the same frequency, has been observed for the first time between molecules, thanks to near-absolute zero temperatures allowing for quantum-level control. This has implications for understanding and manipulating the behavior of molecules in chemical reactions and opens new possibilities in the field of quantum chemistry.

University of Waterloo Receives Quantum Horizon Funding Award, January 26, 2023

UWaterloo has received a Quantum Horizon funding award from the U.S. Department of Energy to collaborate with other institutions on mitigating the loss of quantum information in quantum systems. The project will focus on developing high-quality niobium films to improve the performance of superconducting qubits. The collaboration aims to address decoherence using advanced material analysis tools and qubit foundries.

Next-generation Quantum Detectors Show Significant Promise in Medical Applications and Beyond, January 24, 2023

Researchers backed by TQT have developed quantum detectors with high efficiency and versatility for photodetection in applications like cancer treatment monitoring, fiber optics, quantum communications and retinal imaging. The detectors, based on semiconductor nanowire arrays, demonstrate near-unity detection efficiency across a wide wavelength range at room temperature, surpassing current commercial technologies.

Waterloo Professor to Lead Quantum Advisory Council Under New National Quantum Strategy, January 16, 2023

Dr. Raymond Laflamme, founding director of ICQ, was appointed co-chair of Canada’s National Quantum Strategy (NQS) Advisory Council. Dr. Laflamme, a renowned expert in quantum information, will work closely with fellow chair Dr. Stephanie Simmons of Photonic and IQC affiliate. The NQS seeks to mobilize quantum research for commercial applications, foster partnerships, and train a next-generation workforce to maintain Canada’s leadership in quantum science and technology.

Is quantum on your roadmap?

You’ll want to be in Waterloo. We’ll tell you more about the quantum ecosystem and how you can leverage a wealth of resources and support when you arrive here.