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Mike + Ophelia Lazaridis QNC Brings Together Quantum Computing and Nanotechnology

Recently, businessman Mike Lazaridis encouraged those present at the opening ceremony of the Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre (QNC) to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Referencing the well-known Star Trek TV series seemed altogether fitting as the facility will inspire exploration and enable cutting-edge research. But researchers won’t need to go to a galaxy far, far away to access the facility. The Quantum-Nano Centre is located conveniently in Ontario, Canada, on the main campus of the University of Waterloo.

The Centre will bring together the two disciplines of quantum computing and nanotechnology under one roof, creating a facility that is the first of its kind in the world. Both disciplines involved the study of matter on a minute scale. The goal is that combined research will lead to breakthrough discoveries in industries ranging from energy to health care.

Advanced research in such fields as quantum computing, theoretical physics and nanotechnology has historically led to some of the greatest advances in our fundamental understanding of the universe and matter, including advances in materials sciences. These advances hold the promise of transforming virtually every high-tech industry from advanced manufacturing to life sciences, to information technology. Unlocking and harnessing its potential requires four essential elements:

1. Great and ambitious science.

2. World-class research infrastructure.

3. Skilled workers.

4. And supportive government.

Investors who choose Ontario have access to all of that – in a positive climate that helps businesses grow and succeed.

“Breakthrough science is advancing at a dizzying speed today, with quantum physics at atomic and sub-atomic scale,” said Lazaridis, founder of QNC and co-founder of Research in Motion, makers of the now ubiquitous BlackBerry smartphone. “Simultaneously, rapid movement is happening in nanotechnology, where fabrication of materials, devices and systems 100 nanometres or smaller is being explored. This critical nexus of quantum computing and nanotechnology brings the world closer to the cusp of previously unimagined solutions and insights.”

The state-of-the-art $160-million centre was made possible by a $100-million donation from Lazaridis, as well as funding from the federal and Ontario provincial governments. Ontario, a centre for advanced scientific research and innovation, is a priority destination for entrepreneurs and industries who want to create world-class research facilities.

The 26,010-square-metre, five-storey Quantum-Nano Centre will become home to the Institute for Quantum Computing, the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology and the university’s undergraduate program in nanotechnology engineering. The state-of-the-art facility was designed to attract world-class talent.

The Quantum Nano-Centre is, in fact, the latest in a number of major investments in research centres that are driving innovation.

In 2011, the new Stephen Hawking Centre opened at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, and the MaRS Discovery District (a convergence centre that accelerates innovation and the commercialization of new discoveries) started a major phase of expansion aimed at more than doubling its size in Toronto.

Each discipline will occupy its own building, joined by a six-storey central atrium with informal gathering space. Lounges, offices and meeting rooms are positioned around the edge of the atrium to foster collaboration and the exchange of ideas between scientists. White boards cover many of the walls to accommodate unexpected flashes of insight.

Equipped with controls for vibration, temperature fluctuation and electromagnetic radiation, the Quantum-Nano Centre was designed to meet strict scientific standards.

One of the signature features of the facility is a clean room area that was created to keep out particles of air and skin so researchers can manipulate atoms one by one and make very precise materials. The clean room contains less than 100 particles, whereas a standard room contains about two billion particles.

The QNC also has on-site fabrication facilities that will give scientists and students the tools to create quantum nanodevices. Because the fabrication can be done on-site, it will allow for faster development and revision than is possible in other research facilities.

With this unique facility, a new frontier of research and innovation is about to begin in Ontario.

Quick Facts

Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre

  • •The Quantum-Nano Centre will accommodate a total of 400 academics in quantum computing and nanotechnology.
  • A hexagonal honeycomb lattice of structural steel distinguishes the exterior of the building; the pattern was inspired by the stable hexagonal carbon structure of the nanotube.

Canada’s Technology Triangle Inc.

  • Canada’s Technology Triangle (Waterloo Region; also abbreviated “CTT”) derived its name from the longstanding reputation the region has for innovation, established by resident businesses. Canada’s Technology Triangle came to be used in the 1980s and the global recognition of its high technology cluster in the 1990s validated the name.
  • Companies in the region include RIM (BlackBerry), OpenText, DALSA, COM DEV, Christie (digital projection) and Toyota’s first, outside-Japan, luxury class car production.


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