Institute for Quantum Computing

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Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC)
IQC logo
Type Research institute
Director Raymond Laflamme
Location Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Coordinates: 43°28′44″N 80°33′17″W / 43.478865°N 80.554853°W / 43.478865; -80.554853
Affiliation University of Waterloo

The Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) is an affiliate scientific research institute of the University of Waterloo in located in Waterloo, Ontario with a multidisciplinary approach to the field of quantum information processing. IQC was founded in 2002[1] primarily through a donation made by Mike Lazaridis and his wife Ophelia whose substantial donations have continued over the years.[2] The institute is now located in the Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre and the Research Advancement Centre at the University of Waterloo.

It is led by founder and physicist, Raymond Laflamme with researchers based in 6 departments across 3 faculties at the University of Waterloo. In addition to theoretical and experimental research on quantum computing, IQC also hosts academic conferences and workshops, short courses for undergraduate and high school students, and scientific outreach events including open houses and tours for the public.


The IQC seeks to harness quantum mechanics to develop transformational technologies that will benefit society and become a new engine of economic development in the 21st century. It aims to develop and advance quantum information science and technology at the highest international level through the collaboration of computer scientists, engineers, mathematicians and physical scientists.[3]

The institute's three strategic objectives have been stated as:

  1. To establish Waterloo as a world-class centre for research in quantum technologies and their applications.
  2. To become a magnet for highly qualified personnel in the field of quantum information.
  3. To establish IQC as the authoritative source of insight, analysis and commentary on quantum information.


The Institute for Quantum Computing was officially created in 2002, sparked by Research In Motion co-founder Mike Lazaridis and then-president of the University of Waterloo, David Johnston, for research into quantum information. Since inception, Lazaridis has provided more than $100 million in private funding for IQC. The institute is a collaboration between academia, the private sector, and the federal and provincial governments. Raymond Laflamme is the founding executive director.[4]

At its establishment, the institute was composed of only a handful of researchers from the Departments of Computer Science and Physics. Ten years later, there are more than 200 researchers across six departments within the Faculties of Science, Mathematics, and Engineering at the University of Waterloo.

In 2008, IQC moved into the Research Advancement Centre 1 (RAC I) in the University of Waterloo's Research & Technology Park. In 2010, research operations expanded into the adjacent building, Research Advancement Centre 2 (RAC II).

In 2012, IQC expanded into the Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre. The 285,000-square-foot facility is shared with the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, and is built to stringent standards (controls for vibration, humidity, temperature, and electromagnetic radiation) for quantum and nanotechnology experiments. The building was designed by Toronto-based firm Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects (KPMB).[5]


Research at IQC focuses on three main applications of quantum information science and technology using the physical sciences, mathematics and engineering from both theoretical and experimental perspectives. The three applications are quantum computing, which encompasses the manipulation and storage of quantum information; quantum communication, which is related to the transmission of quantum information; and quantum sensing, which is used to detect signals or stimuli that are present in the nanoscopic world.[6]

Areas of research currently studied at IQC include:

In collaboration with the University of Waterloo, IQC offers research positions and advanced courses in the foundations, applications, and implementation of quantum information processing for graduate students. In addition, IQC also offers an interdisciplinary graduate program in Quantum Information which leads to MMath, MSc, MASc, and PhD degrees.[7]

Research Breakthroughs[edit]

IQC researchers have frequently made novel theoretical discoveries or performed novel experiments within their respective fields.


  • First step in generating entangled photon triplets in a solid state system.[8]
  • First violation of Bell’s inequality in a photonic nanostructure with enhanced light extraction efficiency.[9]
  • New causal structures only found in the quantum world.[10]
  • First violation of the Leggett-Garg inequality on a three-level quantum system.[11]
  • Demonstration of area law scaling of entanglement entropy in a real quantum fluid for the first time.[12]
  • New method for measuring the length of an optical cavity without any initial calibration.[13]
  • New etching and bonding technique to isolate superconducting circuits from environmental interference.[14]
  • Development of an inexpensive, simplistic and portable LED-based spectrophotometer.[15]
  • Creation of single photon generator able to shape photons on-demand to increase efficiency in quantum communications.[16]
  • First observation of genuine three-photon interference.[17] Later named a Top Ten Breakthrough of 2017 by Physics World.[18]


  • First transmission of a quantum key securely from a source on the ground to a receiver on an aircraft[19]
  • Development of new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits.[20]
  • Experiment achieves the strongest coupling between light and matter ever recorded.[21]
  • The first time that the IBM Quantum Experience was used as a classroom educational tool was June 7 at IQC.[22]
  • First available software to evaluate the security of any protocol for Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) developed. [23]
  • Novel, universal method to manipulate quantum systems while minimizing their exposure to noise developed.[24]
  • First experiment to break time-reversal symmetry in quantum walks.[25]
  • The colour and bandwidth of ultrafast single photons converted for the first time using a room-temperature quantum memory in diamond.[26]
  • Successful integration of an on-demand light source in a silicon-based chip, the first fully integrated quantum optics approach that is compatible with current technology in the semiconductor industry.[27]
  • "Surrealistic" quantum trajectories demonstrated in a lab.[28]


  • First source of on-demand time-bin entangled photon pairs using quantum dot developed.[29]
  • First theoretical demonstration that it is possible to detect a single nuclear spin at room temperature.[30]
  • First demonstration that orbital angular momentum (OAM), a wave property of neutrons, can be controlled.[31]
  • Strong loophole-free test of local realism.[32]


  • Invention of Magnetic Resonance Force Microscopy (MRFM).[33]
  • Contextuality theoretically confirmed as necessary resource for achieving the advantages of quantum computation.[34]
  • First demonstrated distribution of three entangled photons at three different locations (Alice, Bob and Charlie) several hundreds of metres apart.[35]
  • Demonstration that an untrusted server can implement a universal set of quantum gates on encrypted qubits without learning any information about inputs, while the client, who knows the decryption key, can easily decrypt the results of the computation.[36]


  • IQC researchers propose quantum walk-based computing model.[37]


  • New form of three-particle entanglement based on the position and momentum properties of photons.[38]
  • Blind quantum computing implemented in cloud computing experiment in collaboration with IQC theoretical researchers.[39]
  • New type of ultra-sensitive detector for oscillating magnetic fields demonstrated.[40]
  • Quantum teleportation over a record-breaking distance of 143 kilometres through free space.[41]
  • Quantum entanglement demonstrated between particles that exist at different points in time.[42]


  • The trajectories of photons that travelled through the double slit experiment to form an interference pattern experimentally depicted for the first time.[43]
  • Coherent control of two nuclear spins using the anisotropic hyperfine interaction.[44]


  • First direct generation of photon triplets.[45]


  • Feasibility of universal computation using quantum walks demonstrated.[46]
  • Equivalence of two collections of computational problems called QIP and PSPACE proved.[47]


  • New, better method of interferometry with chirped laser pulses inspired by quantum entanglement.[48]


  • Research suggests that quantum tunneling, one of several phenomena associated exclusively with the quantum level, may also occur with larger and dynamic systems.[49]
  • First experiment to observe a geometric operation on a solid state quantum bit.[50]


  • Long-standing world record for universal control of largest number of quantum bits (12) set by an IQC-led team of researchers.[51]


  • Heat-bath algorithmic cooling in a solid-state nuclear spin system implemented.[52]

Scientific outreach[edit]

IQC's scientific outreach activities include annual workshops, short courses, public lectures, tours, open houses and science centre and museum exhibits. IQC shares many of these special events, including lectures and special interviews, with the online public through its YouTube channel, Instagram feed, and Twitter feed.

Science centre and museum exhibits[edit]

QUANTUM: The Exhibition[edit]

QUANTUM: The Exhibition is the first-ever travelling show on quantum information science and technology. Throughout 2017, visitors to science centres and museums across the country can explore how researchers are merging quantum mechanics and information technology to create the technologies that will revolutionize and redefine the 21st century—and how many Canadian researchers are leading the way. This exhibition was selected as part of the Signature Initiative of the Government of Canada's sesquicentennial celebration, INNOVATION150, which celebrates 150 years of Canadian innovation.

The Exhibition began its cross-Canada tour with an invitation-only premiere on October 13, 2016 at THEMUSEUM in downtown Kitchener, Ontario, and will continue on to at least five other cities on its journey including Vancouver, Saskatoon, Calgary, Halifax and Ottawa.[53]

LIGHT Illuminated[edit]

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly named 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015). In order to celebrate and educate the public on the physics of light, a group of graduate students from the University of Waterloo Student Chapter of the Optical Society (OSA) created LIGHT Illuminated, an exhibition featured at THEMUSEUM in downtown Kitchener, Ontario, from October 2015 to March 2016. PhD students from the Institute for Quantum Computing along with a Master’s student from the University of Waterloo Department of Physics and Astronomy created and curated the exhibition. Over 40,000 visitors passed through THEMUSEUM during the exhibit’s display.[54]

Conferences and workshops[edit]

IQC has played host to many notable conferences and workshops including:

Public lectures[edit]

IQC has presented public lectures by notable researchers including David Cory, Joseph Emerson, Raymond Laflamme, Michele Mosca and Bill Unruh.[64]


The Undergraduate School on Experimental Quantum Information Processing (USEQIP) is an annual two-week program held in May and June designed for undergraduate students completing the third year of their undergraduate education. The program aims to introduce 20 students to the field of quantum information processing through lectures on quantum information theory and experimental approaches to quantum devices, followed by hands-on exploration using the experimental facilities of IQC.[65]


The Quantum Cryptography School for Young Students (QCSYS) is an annual one-week summer program for 40 high school students aged 15 and older. The program is run by IQC in conjunction with the University of Waterloo. The selected students attend specialized lectures on quantum physics and cryptography, visit local research institutes, meet renowned researchers in these fields, and take a tour of quantum computing and quantum cryptography experiments.[66]


IQC currently has offices and laboratories in both Research Advancement Centre I and II, located in the University of Waterloo’s David Johnston Research & Technology Park.

On 9 June 2008, Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis, together with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, University of Waterloo President David Johnston, and other guests officially broke ground on the project which will consist of three areas: one to house IQC, one for the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, and a clean fabrication and metrology suite to be shared between the two institutes.[67] It will house offices, laboratory space, and areas for collaboration among researchers. The QNC opened September 21, 2012.[68]


Raymond Laflamme presents a boomerang to Stephen Hawking at IQC
Stephen Hawking visits IQC on 21 June 2010 where Raymond Laflamme presents him with a boomerang to commemorate their work together.

As of 2017, IQC’s research team consists of 27 faculty members, 2 research assistant professors, over 30 postdoctoral fellows, and more than 120 students.[69] The institute has expressed intentions to expand to include 33 faculty members, 50 post-doctoral fellows, and 125 students.[70]

IQC faculty members have appointments in the departments of Physics & Astronomy, Combinatorics & Optimization, Applied Mathematics, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Chemistry, and the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo. IQC faculty and postdoctoral fellows account for 10 of the 31 members of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research’s Quantum Information Processing Program. In addition, 3 faculty members have associate membership at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and 11 are affiliate members.

Currently, 2 IQC faculty members hold Canada Research Chairs in various aspects of quantum information and 1 faculty member holds a Canada Excellence Research Chair.


  • Michal Bajcsy
  • Jonathan Baugh
  • Raffi Budakian
  • Kyung Soo Choi
  • Richard Cleve
  • David Cory—Canada Excellence Research Chair in Quantum Information Processing
  • Joseph Emerson
  • Kazi Rajibul Islam
  • Thomas Jennewein
  • Na Young Kim
  • Raymond Laflamme—Canada Research Chair in Quantum Information
  • Debbie Leung—Canada Research Chair in Quantum Communications
  • Adrian Lupascu
  • Norbert Lütkenhaus
  • Hamed Majedi
  • Matteo Mariantoni
  • Guo-Xing Miao
  • Michele Mosca
  • Ashwin Nayak
  • Vern Paulsen
  • Kevin Resch
  • Michael Reimer
  • Crystal Senko
  • Adam Wei Tsen
  • John Watrous
  • Christopher Wilson
  • Jon Yard
  • Christine Muschik


The following major awards have been won by IQC researchers for significant contributions to their fields:

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship

  • Adrian Lupascu, 2011
  • Matteo Mariantoni, 2013

American Physical Society

  • David Cory, Fellow, 2015
  • Thomas Jennewein, APS Outreach Mini-Grant program, 2015
  • Raymond Laflamme, Fellow, 2008

Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC)

  • David Cory—CERC, Quantum Devices, 2010

Canada Research Chair (CRC)

  • Raymond Laflamme—CRC, Quantum Information, 2009
  • Debbie Leung—Tier II CRC, Quantum Communications, 2005
  • Michele Mosca—Canada Research Chair, 2002
  • Kevin Resch—CRC, Optical Quantum Technologies, 2014

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee

  • Ashwin Nayak, 2015 - Scholarship
  • Michele Mosca, 2013 - Medal winner
  • Raymond Laflamme, 2005 - Medal winner

Royal Society of Canada Fellowship

  • Richard Cleve, 2011
  • David Cory, 2015
  • Raymond Laflamme, 2008[71]

Polanyi Prize

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship

  • Jean-Philippe MacLean, 2015
  • Tomas Jochym-O'Connor, 2014
  • Kent Fisher, 2012
  • Deny Hamel, 2010
  • Gina Passante, 2009[74]

Notable visitors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "What Great Philanthropy Can Do". Institute for Quantum Computing. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  2. ^ no by-line.--> (2015). "Quick facts About the Institute". University of Waterloo. University of Waterloo. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  3. ^ "Strategic Direction". Institute for Quantum Computing. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  4. ^ "About the Institute". Institute for Quantum Computing. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "University of Waterloo Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum Nano Centre". Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "Faculty & Research". Institute for Quantum Computing. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "Graduate Studies". Institute for Quantum Computing. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  8. ^ "Photon triplets pave way for multi-photon entanglement". Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  9. ^ "Violating Bell's inequality with nanoscale light sources". Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  10. ^ "New causal structures only found in the quantum world". Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  11. ^ "Pushing the upper bounds of a long-standing test". Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  12. ^ "From black holes to helium and beyond". Retrieved 4 April 2017. 
  13. ^ "A new calibration-free cavity measurement technique". Retrieved 4 April 2017. 
  14. ^ "Scalable quantum computers within reach | Institute for Quantum Computing". Institute for Quantum Computing. 2017-09-18. Retrieved 2017-12-28. 
  15. ^ "New device offers simple and affordable way to identify optical coatings in the lab | Institute for Quantum Computing". Institute for Quantum Computing. 2017-10-02. Retrieved 2017-12-28. 
  16. ^ "Shaping photons on-demand | Institute for Quantum Computing". Institute for Quantum Computing. 2017-11-09. Retrieved 2017-12-28. 
  17. ^ "Experiment lays foundation for applications in quantum communication | Institute for Quantum Computing". Institute for Quantum Computing. 2017-04-10. Retrieved 2017-12-28. 
  18. ^ "Experiment named a Top Ten Breakthrough of 2017 | Institute for Quantum Computing". Institute for Quantum Computing. 2017-12-11. Retrieved 2017-12-28. 
  19. ^ "Researchers successfully demonstrate prototype for space-based quantum-secured communication". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  20. ^ "Realism is for people who can't handle their nonlocality". Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  21. ^ "New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  22. ^ "USEQIP students take on the IBM Quantum Experience". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  23. ^ "Computing a secret, unbreakable key". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  24. ^ "Handle with quantum care". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  25. ^ "First experiment to break time-reversal symmetry in quantum walks". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  26. ^ "Changing the colour of single photons in a diamond quantum memory". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  27. ^ "Advancing quantum technologies one chip at a time". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  28. ^ "Realism is for people who can't handle their nonlocality". Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  29. ^ "Experiment looks to increase security in quantum communication". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  30. ^ "Researchers theoretically demonstrate the detection of a single nuclear spin at room temperature". Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  31. ^ "A twist for control of orbital angular momentum of neutron waves". Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  32. ^ "Strong loophole-free test of local realism". Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  33. ^ "A new way to look at the building blocks of nature". Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  34. ^ "Researchers find weird magic ingredient for quantum computing". Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  35. ^ "Experiment opens the door to multi-party quantum communication". Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  36. ^ "IQC researchers publish paper in Nature Communications Journal=17 February 2017". 
  37. ^ "IQC researchers propose quantum walk-based computing model". Retrieved 4 April 2017. 
  38. ^ "Extending Einstein". Retrieved 4 April 2017. 
  39. ^ "International team achieves breakthrough in secure quantum computing". Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  40. ^ "IQC researchers demonstrate an ultra-sensitive magnetic field sensor". Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  41. ^ "Quantum teleportation goes the distance". Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  42. ^ "Quantum connections span space — and time". Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  43. ^ "Observing the unobservable: IQC researcher and colleagues achieve a physics first". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  44. ^ "Coherent Control of Two Nuclear Spins Using the Anisotropic Hyperfine Interaction". Retrieved 4 April 2017. 
  45. ^ "IQC-led research team achieves quantum optics breakthrough". Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  46. ^ "Universal Computation by Quantum Walk". Retrieved 15 February 2017. 
  47. ^ "QIP = PSPACE". Retrieved 15 February 2017. 
  48. ^ "Cover-worthy Interference". Retrieved 15 February 2017. 
  49. ^ "Tunneling between a Tremble and a Swing". Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  50. ^ "Observation of Berry's Phase in a Solid-State Qubit". Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  51. ^ "12-Qubits reached in quantum information quest". Retrieved 15 February 2017. 
  52. ^ "IQC researchers have paper published in Nature". Retrieved 15 February 2017. 
  53. ^ "QUANTUM: The Exhibition". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  54. ^ "LIGHT Illuminated". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  55. ^ "Inaugural Women in Physics Canada Conference" (PDF). The Canadian Association of Physicists. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  56. ^ "Relativistic Quantum Information North Conference". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  57. ^ "NanoMRI Conference". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  58. ^ "Conference on Post-Quantum Cryptography". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  59. ^ "Post-Quantum Cryptography Summer School". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  60. ^ "CAM Conference". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  61. ^ "QCRYPT Conference". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  62. ^ "Quantum Innovators Workshop". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  63. ^ "Relativistic Quantum Information North Conference". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  64. ^ "Public Lectures". Institute for Quantum Computing. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  65. ^ "Undergraduate School on Experimental Quantum Information Processing 2012". Institute for Quantum Computing. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  66. ^ "Quantum Cryptography School for Young Students 2012". Institute for Quantum Computing. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  67. ^ "Groundbreaking for the Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre". Institute for Quantum Computing. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  68. ^ "Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre Grand Opening". University of Waterloo. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  69. ^ IQC website, "Our People", 2017.
  70. ^ IQC Communications & Outreach, "IQC Annual Report 2012", 2012.
  71. ^ "Faculty Award Recipients". Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  72. ^ "IQC postdoc earns prestigious Polanyi Prize". Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  73. ^ "Going beyond the limits of quantum". Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  74. ^ "Student Award Recipients". Retrieved 16 February 2017. 

External links[edit]