Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR
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e eDge OF tECH 40 FEBRUARY/MARCH 2015 www.vanguardcanada.com next-generation quantum technologies c anada has an enviable his- tory of strength in photon- ics research and technology development, with an in- ternational reputation and advanced research facilities that continue to at- tract some of the brightest minds. Ottawa is the birthplace of several groundbreaking communication tech- nologies, including fibre Bragg grat- ings (FBGs) and the foundations of coherent optical communication. It is home to more than 100 area companies across the optics and photonics value chain, and hosts a strong cluster of researchers and laboratories including the University of Ottawa's Advanced Research Complex, the National Research Council of Canada's (NRC) Quantum Photonics Labora- tories, and their Joint Attosecond Science Laboratory. Ottawa's roots in optics, sensing and communications research can be traced back to World War II when the now Defence Re- search and Development Canada (DRDC) and Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) were part of NRC. NRC conducted research on behalf of National Defence, developing among other things, an extensive program for radar systems. In 1941, CSEC was created as The Examination unit of NRC, the government's main unit for cryptography. Research at NRC on radio wave propagation also advanced and ultimately spun out into the Communications Research Centre Canada. Post-war research at NRC in optical physics and chemistry was led by Gerhard Herzberg, who assembled a world-class technical team and was awarded the Noble Prize in chemistry for his work. Major advances were made in spectroscopy, optics, laser, plasma, solid-state, and ultrafast physics. On this combined legacy is built NRC's current advanced capa- bilities in quantum photonics, with state-of-the-art research facili- ties and staff. However, it is the potent combination of this govern- ment capability with the Canadian photonics industry and academic leadership in quantum information that positions the country for a new generation of global success in quantum photonics. a long-term plan As conventional photonics reach their performance limits, NRC is looking 10 years ahead to help ensure the future competitiveness of the Canadian industry. NRC's new Quantum Photonics Sens- ing and Security (QPSS) research program will develop a platform to help advance the technology readiness level (TRL) of quantum technologies so Canadian companies can commercialize market- leading solutions. Only a handful of organizations in the world are in a position to do this as effectively. The platform will focus on technology validation and development for the sec- tors that are anticipated to be the early adopters of quantum technologies: in- formation and communications tech- nologies (ICT), defence and security, and energy and environment. With increased information network usage and simultaneous increased ad- versarial computing power, current en- cryption and information security techniques are rapidly becom- ing vulnerable. Guaranteed "quantum-secure" communications and data storage, built by combining novel devices that utilize quantum physics to improve measurement and communications, will be addressed in the quantum cyber-security thrust. Opportu- nities include provably secure quantum key generation and distri- bution for future-proof encryption, allowing secure high-speed communications. The program will focus on the implementation of quantum random number generators, quantum repeaters, on- demand quantum photonic sources, and other quantum devices. The defence and security sector has a need for faster and more accurate remote hazard sensing technologies. Laser-engineered optical fibre solutions will enhance perimeter security applications such as the protection of major infrastructure. The safe detec- tion of hazards at a distance will be ensured by nonlinear optical approaches to detect trace chemicals on surfaces, highly nonlin- ear approaches to standoff detection of chemical threats based on high power femtosecond duration lasers, and highly sensitive spectrometers for trace chemical analysis. high return Quantum advances are expected to impact one in four photonics technologies in 10 years, and Canada is leveraging its unique posi- tion to exploit this opportunity. The capital investment required to stay at the forefront of these technologies is often too risky a challenge for Canadian companies with limited R&D resources. But for Canada, it is too risky not to invest in this future platform. By sharing the risks, partners and clients of the QPSS research program will tap into the critical infrastructure and expertise needed to advance quantum photonics systems and bring them to market so that Canadian companies can develop and grow global market leadership. As NRC embarks on this quantum journey with its partners, they will no doubt envision and take on more research in this emerging field. Applications for quantum photonics are vast – making this a truly disruptive technology. Dr. Benjamin Sussman is the program leader for the Quantum Photonic Sensing and Security research program at the National Research Council of Canada.