Nearly five million dollars in NSERC Alliance Grants support three McMaster Engineering quantum projects

Researcher working in the Engineering Physics optics lab.

Researcher working in the Engineering Physics optics lab.

Quantum research at McMaster University’s Faculty of Engineering is getting a boost thanks to a Government of Canada investment through the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Alliance Grants.

Five Department of Engineering Physics professors received a total of $4.7 million in grants to support three research projects underway in quantum technologies, an emerging area of specialization for the Faculty that is poised to revolutionize various fields, from computing and communication to sensing and cryptography.

Department Chair and grant recipient, Rafael Kleiman, will be working in partnership with SolidState AI to develop a hybrid superconducting-photonic platform for quantum computing.

“These hybrid superconducting-photonic circuits are a future version of the electronic-optical interfaces of our present computing and telecommunication architectures,” he says.

“They are very likely to become a critical part of the practical quantum computing infrastructure needed for its deployment.”

The work of Professor Chang-qing Xu, in partnership with OZ Optics Ltd. and Optiwave Systems Inc. and with co-applicant Thomas Jennewein from the University of Waterloo, will focus on the development of compact, efficient and robust quantum sources to improve quantum communication networks. Photonic integrated circuits that are designed using Optiwave’s software packages will be developed and fabricated at McMaster’s Centre for Emerging Device Technology and then prototyped in collaboration with OZ Optics.

The proposed quantum source integrates multiple devices into one single photonic integrated circuit chip, greatly reducing the size and complexity of the quantum source.

“The expected project results will not only enhance Canada’s competitiveness in the quantum communication industry but will also lead to a new class of product to be brought to the marketplace by our industry partners,” says Xu.

Assistant Professor Ryan Lewis, in partnership with Xanadu and with co-applicants Andy Knights and Ray LaPierre, both engineering physics professors at McMaster, will be investigating on-chip entangled photon generation and detection. They hope to develop a practical approach to direct growth of compound semiconductor materials on silicon photonics platforms, which could revolutionize quantum computing, telecommunications and solar cell technologies.

“These technologies could light up the next generation of internet data communication and drive the scale-up of optical quantum computers and quantum communications to power the quantum revolution,” says Lewis.

In 2023, McMaster Engineering launched a partnership with Xanadu to support the creation of educational materials to train McMaster students for future careers in quantum and developing and testing new quantum computing algorithms to fuel research projects.

“The Alliance Grants will bolster McMaster’s research capacity in quantum technologies and attract top-tier graduate student talent,” says John Preston, Associate Dean, Research, Innovation, and Partnerships.

NSERC launched Alliance grants in 2019 to encourage university researchers to collaborate with partner organizations from across the private, public or not-for-profit sectors.

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