One Company Coming out of Ontario’s ‘Quantum Valley,’ is Bringing Entangled Photons to the Mainstream

Photo by Michal Czyz on Unsplash

Flock of Seagulls

There’s very little surprise that TQD writes stories from quantum startups or initiative with roots in Canada. I mean, the country is arguably the best place to be on the planet right now if you’re pursuing a career in quantum information science (QIS).

The amount of fervent minds — both male and female — centred in one geographical location is mindblowing. Quantum Valley, the popular name for the area within the province of Ontario, stretching roughly from Waterloo to Toronto, is where it’s all at: quantum startups, incubators, accelerators, venture capitalists, research institutes — you name it, it’s there, though in all honesty it’s not just Ontario that’s doing amazing things in quantum tech in Canada: the provinces of British Colombia and Quebec have their fair share of activity, too; Alberta’s another one, but to a lesser extent than the others.

Putting this all together, you can see why experts and entrepreneurs are flocking to the country.

One good representative of everything that’s good about quantum in Canada can be seen at Universal Quantum Devices (UQD), a company located in Waterloo. It was set up in 2012 to assist the quantum optics community’s development by manufacturing and delivering ‘versatile and robust electronics for time-tagging and coincidence counting measurements’.

UQD

UQD’s main focus is on entangled photon sources, and the application of both terrestrial and satellite-based quantum cryptography systems, as well as photon correlation experiments with quantum dots.

The showpiece to UDQ’s IP is its logic correlation unit, the Logic16, which the team boasts was

designed to be the most versatile tool available for analyzing photon detection signals in multi-photon correlation counting and time-resolved signal analysis. It operates in two distinct modes for measurement flexibility: coincidence counting mode and time-tagging mode

Logic16

The Logic16 unit, empowered with support from German consultancy DotFAST, has helped definitive research in such scientifically challenging areas as quantum randomness generation based on non-projective measurements, time-bin and polarization superdense teleportation for applications in deep space, the generation of arbitrary classical photon statistics, and in certifying the presence of a photonic qubit by splitting it in two.

More, I’m sure, will come with time.

If all this has gone over the head of the reader, not to worry, for the UDQ founding team of Thomas Jennewein, Steve MacDonald and Raymond Laflamme really know what they’re doing.

 

CEO Jennewein has a Ph.D. from the University of Vienna, where he studied experimental physics and coincidentally won the Loschmidt-Prize by the Austrian Physical-Chemical Society for his work in teleportation experiments with entangled photon pairs. Since that time, he’s been an extremely busy man, as a consultant, postdoc researcher, co-founding UQD and quantum key distribution (QKD) startup QEYnet in 2018. An expert on single-photon detectors, quantum sources for quantum communications and quantum random number generators among other things, UQD leading man is the right man for the job.

Our products are driven and inspired by the cutting edge research and development that will lead to quantum technologies of the future

— UQD

Steve MacDonald is the company’s COO and UQD’s financial guru. With a business degree from Wilfrid Laurier University, MacDonald has working experience in research, financial services and transportation.

A Brief History of Time

With a Ph.D. from the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University under the direction of Professor Stephen Hawking, CSO Raymond Laflamme needs no introduction. A professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo and an associate faculty member at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Laflamme is now a Canada Research Chair in Quantum Information. The founding director of the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at Waterloo until 2017, he’s famous (or is that infamous) for changing Hawking’s mind on the topic that ‘time does not reverse in a contracting universe’. On that note, UQD can only hope Hawking’s — and subsequently Laflamme’s mojo — rubs off on the rest of the team, the quantum tech community in Canada and the wider world.

Raymond Laflamme

UQD, like other companies in the space, will surely make its mark in some way. If not for the potential of the Logic16 unit, then for the competence of the team on board.

James Dargan
James Dargan
James Dargan is a contributor at The Quantum Daily. His focus is on the QC startup ecosystem and he writes articles on the space that have a tone accessible to the average reader

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