6 November 2020 Nouvelles UdeS
High-level competition from NSERC and UK Research and Innovation

Université de Sherbrooke’s expertise in the quantum field recognized with a first Canada-UK partnership

Left to right : Julien Camirand Lemyre, founder of Nord Quantique; Michel Pioro-Ladrière, deputy director of Institut quantique; David Roy-Guay, founder of SB Quantum; Dominique Drouin, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Photo : François Lafrance UdeS

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) have recognized the expertise of  Université de Sherbrooke for the industrial development of quantum technologies. At the conclusion of a highly competitive process, the two national funding agencies have created a consortium that will allow start-ups based in Sherbrooke to continue developing cutting-edge products and basic components quantum sensors and for quantum computing. The Government of Québec, through Prompt, is also contributing to the funding of this project, which has an overall budget of more than $1 million over the next three years.

Michel Pioro-Ladrière, professor at the Department of Physics and deputy director of the Institut quantique (IQ), is the project lead. He will work with M. Yann Beilliard adjunct professor and Dominique Drouin, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering both members of IQ, to accelerate the transition to commercial exploitation of quantum technologies as well as their large-scale development. In addition to the UdeS, the consortium will bring together, among others, Oxford Instruments, SB Quantum, Nord Quantique, Professor Paul Barclay of the University of Calgary and Professor Lilian Childress of McGill University. This international collaboration is intended to complement Canada’s and the United Kingdom’s ecosystems by sharing their expertise, manufacturing capabilities, and infrastructure.

Professor Pioro-Ladrière sees this partnership as an opportunity to train the next generation :

“The project offers excellent training prospects. Developing a highly skilled workforce is one of the main challenges in our field. The consortium will help train the scientists and engineers of tomorrow who will accelerate the development of quantum technologies.”


A Large Consortium

This unique partnership accelerates fundamental research on complex hybrid systems composed of superconducting circuits and spin qubits. The goal is to form the next generation of quantum devices in Sherbrooke and in collaborating institutions in Canada.

The Vice-President Partnerships and Knowledge Transfer at Université de Sherbrooke, Professor Vincent Aimez, is delighted with this large-scale project which will enable the sharing of expertise between leaders in the field:

“The possibilities in the quantum sphere are maximized when the best international university research teams join forces and partner with a renowned industrial player as well as with young and growing companies. With the financial support of various governments, they create very favourable conditions for the development and commercialization of advanced technologies. This synergy, which is the source of many successes in terms of partnerships at Université de Sherbrooke, is a key component of this project. I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the people involved in it.”


A Fruitful Partnership

For SB Quantum (SBQ) and Nord Quantique, two young Sherbrooke start-ups in quantum sciences, this partnership not only gives them the chance to provide information on their respective needs, but also to benefit from the cutting-edge facilities of Oxford Instruments.

This golden opportunity will give SBQ a head start in perfecting its diamond-based quantum magnetometer into a smart, high-precision compass that better understands its surroundings. This will allow more efficient mining exploration and deployment of autonomous vehicles in situations where the GPS signal is absent or degraded.

“The project will further miniaturize the technology and increase its accuracy to combine multiple magnetic field measurements in a single device, to unlock magnetic intelligence. This capability is central to SBQ: it will lead to high precision navigation in all environments and climatic conditions using the Earth’s magnetic field and its local variations.”

– David Roy-Guay, founder of SB Quantum

For Nord Quantique, these favourable circumstances will allow it to move from the traditional fabrication of superconducting quantum circuits to improve the lifespan of qubits and thus gain a competitive edge in the development of the quantum computer.

“This collaborative project directly supports the start-up phase of Nord Quantique by co-developing processes that will serve both researchers and the development of our prototypes. The industrial processes which will engineered will also contribute to the deployment and scale-up of our technology in the years to come.”

– Julien Camirand Lemyre, founder of Nord Quantique

Extend Quantum Technologies

In practical terms, the research project will lead to new processes, which will guide the future development of quantum sensors and the manufacturing of superconducting qubits, two strategic sectors in both Canada and the United Kingdom. In Quebec, this project will fully benefit from the Chaine d’Innovation intégré ecosystem involving the Institut quantique (IQ), the Institut interdisciplinaire d’innovation technologique (3IT) and the Centre de collaboration MiQro Innovation (C2MI). In addition, it will help support the growth of quantum ecosystems and continue to strengthen their presence in this nascent industry.

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