Université de Sherbrooke today launched an ambitious project which reaffirms its position as a world leader in large research partnerships. A project that will undoubtedly be one of the great industrial revolutions of the 21st Century: From Quantum Science to Quantum Technologies.
To propel this initiative, the Government of Canada has awarded a remarkable investment of $33,5million over seven years to Université de Sherbrooke, in the first inaugural competition of the Canada First Research Excellence Fund. The Université de Sherbrooke is one of only five Canadian universities selected for the largest research fund in Canadian history, demonstrating the excellence and quality of its world-class research.
“This is the most important research grant in the history of Université de Sherbrooke. This national and international recognition confirms the quality of our research teams and the adequacy of our partnership approach with companies”, explains the President, Professor Luce Samoisette. “The UdeS deploys a broad strategy to propel innovation, multiply partnerships and intensify entrepreneurship. Today’s announcement is the first major funding of this action plan”, she added.
More specifically, this major initiative will support research focused on the interface of quantum materials and quantum information science. The meeting point of these two fields has an immense potential for discovery and innovation. Under the leadership of Professor Alexandre Blais, from the Faculty of Science, the project brings together a team of world-renowned physicists, while relying on the expertise of researchers from the Faculty of Engineering, especially in micro-nanofabrication. “Our collaboration with worldwide high-tech companies, like Google, IBM and Microsoft, research centers and innovative start-ups such as Anyon Systems pushing the limits of quantum-based research strategically positions us to broaden our reach on the global stage” explains Jacques Beauvais, Vice-President Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Quantum-based technologies, in particular quantum computing, will play an important role in tomorrow’s information technologies. “While we have in-house experts on experimental and theoretical aspects of quantum information processing, Professor Blais’ team’s detailed theoretical understanding of superconducting quantum circuits is bringing unique and invaluable expertise to our efforts”, says Dr Masoud Mohseni, Senior Research Scientist at the Google Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
Université de Sherbrooke’s knowledge mobilization strategy will provide a business friendly ecosystem that will stimulate and increase collaboration with industry. It will foster entrepreneurship, and thus boost discoveries, competitiveness and productivity in strategic socio-economic sectors such as information technology, manufacturing, energy and health. “The quantum information science’s innovation potential is phenomenal and it already stimulates entrepreneurial spirit not only of our professors and collaborators, but also to our students,” says Professor Blais.
The potential of quantum science
Université de Sherbrooke has recognized early the potential of quantum science to generate transformative technologies, says the Dean of the Faculty of Science, Serge Jandl. “With substantial investments in this area over the last 40 years, we consider quantum science as one of our most promising research themes”.
Quantum physics is strange. It predicts that atoms can be at two places at once and that, in the right conditions, the electrical current in a wire can flow simultaneously in two opposite directions. Despite this, physicists and engineers have learned in the last century to use the less peculiar aspects of this theory to develop the technological basis of modern society: the transistor and the laser. Without quantum physics there would be no internet and computers would fill entire buildings rather than fit comfortably in your pocket. The power of quantum physics to surprise and to transform society is however far from being exhausted. It is now recognized that exploiting its strangest aspects will lead to new transformative quantum technologies.
A team of key researchers
The project “From Quantum Science to Quantum Technologies” will mobilize a team of internationally recognized from the Faculty of Science. The team includes key researchers and professors Alexandre Blais, Patrick Fournier, Ian Garate, Michel Pioro-Ladrière, David Poulin, Bertrand Reulet, David Sénéchal, Louis Taillefer and André-Marie Tremblay.
The world-renowned expertise of researchers from the Faculty of Engineering will add to the strength of the research team, including professors François Boone, Serge Charlebois, David Danovitch, Dominique Drouin, Jean-François Pratte and Julien Sylvestre.
About the Canada First Research Excellence Fund
Launched in December 2014, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund will invest $1.5 billion over 10 years to propel Canadian research at universities and colleges from world-class to world leading in areas that create long-term economic advantages for Canada.
The Fund helps institutions:
compete with the best in the world for talent, for partnership opportunities, and to make breakthrough discoveries;
seize emerging opportunities and strategically advance their greatest strengths on the global stage; and
implement large-scale, transformational and forward-thinking institutional strategies.