Dr. Kamyar Ilkchy receives Governor General's Gold Medal

June 01, 2015

Dr. Kamyar Saeedi Ilkhchy is being recognized with the award of the Governor General's Gold Medal for having achieved the highest academic standing in a PhD. On behalf of SFU, we congratulate Dr. Ilkhchy. 

According to MIT News, the best way to predict technological innovation is through an engineering formula called Moore’s Law. Or, you could just keep an eye on physics PhD graduand Kamyar Saeedi Ilkhchy.

Dr. Ilkchy's doctoral research into quantum computers has not only earned him international headlines but was recently honored with a Governor General’s Gold Medal, awarded for achieving the highest academic standing in a PhD program.

His research broke the previous two-second world record for sustaining a quantum state in a solid-state device by a whopping 39-minute margin. Quantum states are the building blocks of quantum-information systems that may one day be used to develop computers that can process information trillions of times faster than today’s most powerful machines. These states could also be applied to create quantum-based currency that is impossible to counterfeit.    

“I believe that the result at the heart of his research project and thesis represents the highest- impact result that has been achieved by my group in my 35 years of research,” said his supervisor, Professor Michael Thewalt.

Physics World magazine touted Ilkhchy’s research as one of the top 10 physics breakthroughs of 2013.

Despite making one the field's most widely heralded contributions, Ilkhchy didn’t spend his entire doctoral program in the lab. He devoted countless hours to promoting appreciation and understanding of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) among young learners by volunteering for outreach programs such as Lasers in Action, Girls Exploring Physics and Let’s Talk Science.

“I want others to experience the same passion and wonder I feel when I'm exploring science,” says Ilkhchy.

He is continuing to push the frontiers of quantum information systems through a postdoctoral fellowship at the FELIX lab at Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. The FELIX laboratory houses lasers that can produce wavelengths in the far infrared region and may provide new insights into quantum computing.   

“This field is constantly changing, and I feel very excited to be part of it and to help create a future that is beyond anything we can imagine,” he says.

by Jackie Amsden

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