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Past Winner
2010 NSERC NSERC Howard Alper Postdoctoral Prize

Victoria M. Kaspi

Astrophysics

McGill University

Victoria M. Kaspi
Victoria M. Kaspi

As electronics and telecommunications devices continually get smaller and faster, components such as transistors and lasers are fast approaching size limits imposed by the basic laws of physics. Quantum information processing—a way of storing and processing information by exploiting the laws of quantum mechanics that apply to materials at the atomic level—has emerged over the past decade as a technology that will allow even smaller and faster devices. It could revolutionize 21st‑century technologies the same way transistors and lasers changed 20th‑century electronics and communications. However, using current quantum technologies for mass production poses challenges because the existing devices are still too bulky.

Alex Hayat, winner of NSERC’s 2011 Howard Alper Postdoctoral Prize, is combining recent advances in optics and condensed matter physics to develop an entirely new, unconventional approach to quantum technologies. He uses the interaction of quantum light with materials whose particles are in a “collective” state. Similar to the behaviour of photons in a laser beam, collective states of matter feature a large number of particles acting in unison in a single quantum state (or “condensate”) instead of individual particles moving randomly. Superconductors, widely used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, are one example of a condensate.

If all goes according to plan, the research project will develop compact, highly-efficient quantum devices based on unique combinations of semiconductor quantum photonics with matter condensates such as high-temperature superconductors.

Dr. Hayat’s unconventional approach may pave the way to the widespread use of quantum technologies. Besides information technology applications, the research could positively impact fields such as biomedical devices and energy harvesting. Such a breakthrough would position Canada as a global leader in the development and exploitation of quantum technologies.

Alex Hayat
Alex Hayat
Alex Hayat
Alex Hayat
Alex Hayat
Alex Hayat

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