News Release – June 17, 2021
Montreal and Varennes, June 17, 2021 – Cybersecurity is a major issue in today’s connected society. Quantum technologies would provide a revolutionary solution to the need for secure communication, especially for the transmission of personal, banking and government data. National Institute for Scientific Research (INRS) professor Roberto Morandotti is leading this work. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has awarded him more than $800,000 in grants for two projects in quantum communication and quantum cryptography. The first project also benefits from a $215,157 contribution from Prompt and Quebec’s Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation.
The researcher’s first interest is quantum communication networks, composed of local nodes. These connection points generate photons that are used to transport information. The quantum properties of these light particles allow them to travel long distances through an optical fibre between local nodes.
Two major bottlenecks are holding back the development of this promising technology: photon loss and the lack of robust interconnection between local nodes. To overcome these obstacles, Professor Morandotti will collaborate with industry partner OptoElectronic Components Inc.
Together, they will develop robust, low-loss interconnections between integrated waveguide photonic chips, generating photons, and standard optical fibres. “This is a crucial step towards commercializing fibre-secure quantum communications that will help maintain Canada as a leading player in the field,” Professor Morandotti concluded.
The project also includes collaboration with British academic and industrial teams, who will develop photonic chips in parallel.
Another promising approach to secure communication is quantum cryptography. This method is based on the quantum characteristics of photons. Indeed, the quantum distribution of keys prevents the interception or copying of information photons and makes communications secure.
The use of on-chip photonic structures integrated with fibre optic networks offers several advantages. However, such devices often require a compromise between cost and performance. Professor Morandotti, with this quantum cryptography project, seeks to improve these photonic platforms, with OEC support. This project is also being carried out in collaboration with academic and industrial teams in the UK. In turn, these partners will develop source architectures for the development of miniature atomic clocks.
“These projects will benefit Canada by training highly qualified personnel in the interdisciplinary fields of integrated photonics and device design,” said Professor Morandotti.
The first project, titled “Connectorizing Integrated Quantum Photonics Devices,” received a $400,000 grant through NSERC’s call for joint Canada-UK projects on quantum technology, as well as a contribution of $215,157 from Prompt and Quebec’s Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation.
The second project, titled “Development of Highly Efficient, Portable, and Fibre-Integrated Photonic Platforms Based on Micro-Resonator,” also received $400,000 for the same program.
INRS is a university dedicated exclusively to graduate level research and training. Since its creation in 1969, INRS has played an active role in Quebec’s economic, social, and cultural development and is ranked first for research intensity in Quebec and in Canada. INRS is made up of four interdisciplinary research and training centres in Quebec City, Montreal, Laval, and Varennes, with expertise in strategic sectors: Eau Terre Environnement, Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications, Urbanisation Culture Société and Armand-Frappier Santé Biotechnologie. The INRS community includes more than 1,500 students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty members, and staff.
Prompt is a consortium that forges and funds high-impact industrial R&D partnerships. We help governments fund research and development (R&D). Our work creates university-industry R&D partnerships that increase the competitiveness of the information and communications technology (ICT) industry across Quebec.
Large global companies. Multiple ecosystems in the areas of health, 5G, AI, cybersecurity, UX, telecommunications, digital media, etc.
In the last year alone, Prompt approved 101 projects worth almost $80 million.