"Daniel is brilliant, friendly, and a great researcher, who’s always coming up with insightful new ideas. His strong background has given him a unique and highly valuable perspective on quantum hardware R&D. It is great having Daniel on the team — he’s wonderful to get along with, quick to smile, and is a great problem solver and communicator."

Stephanie Simmons, Assistant Professor

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Postdoc Profile: Daniel Higginbottom

Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Applied Science

October 01, 2020
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My research passion is inventing photonic quantum technologies that can be deployed to solve critical real-world problems. I completed my doctoral research in 2018 with the quantum optics groups of Prof. Ping Koy Lam at the Australian National University and Prof. Rainer Blatt at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, world leaders respectively in the fields of optical quantum memories and ion-trap quantum computing.  My doctoral research encompassed quantum optics  experiments with two very different platforms: I have developed photon sources and memories for quantum networks with both electrically trapped ions and optically trapped cold-atom ensembles, with high impact results and performance records in each field including record single-photon soure purity, record quantum memory efficiency, novel stationary light schemes and quantum memories for images.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

The Silicon Quantum Technology (SQT) lab at Simon Fraser led by Profs. Stephanie Simmons and Mike Thewalt is world recognized for identifying and characterizing spin qubits in silicon, including a Physics World 2013 Top Ten Breakthrough of the Year for room temperature silicon qubits, and recently for embarking upon an entirely new area of research: silicon spin-photon hybrid quantum computing. My single-photon research experience across multiple photonics platforms complements the silicon spin expertise of SQT. We are now pioneering  silicon-native spin-photon devices for new quantum computing architectures.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH AND/OR PROGRAM.

Devices that harness the surprising properties of quantum systems at scale hold the possibility of revolutionary advances in information technology by the distribution and control of entanglement—fragile quantum correlations.  A message on a quantum network may be ‘teleported’ between two parties without passing through the intervening space and a quantum network can distribute provably secure one-time pads for cryptographically coding messages impenetrable to any eavesdropper. Known algorithms for quantum computers can solve some problems exponentially faster than any current or future computer relying solely upon the laws of classical physics.  Examples include prime factorization (critical for cryptography) and outstanding problems in chemistry with the potential to transform industrial and agricultural processes, such as elucidating an efficient, room-temperature alternative to Haber-Bosch fertilizer synthesis.

The scope and potential of future quantum technologies is immense: it is no less historically significant than electrification or the transistor, but at this moment  the capacity of the real-world quantum devices is rudimentary. Cutting-edge results span a dozen competing physical qubit platforms including superconducting circuits, photonic circuits, trapped atoms, and spins in crystals such as diamond and silicon. The eventual architecture(s) of useful quantum information technology will be determined by research work happening today. Building transformative quantum devices that can be deployed in the real world requires robust technologies that operate at scale. In this respect silicon is uniquely suited for scalability because it unifies mature microelectronic semiconductor fabrication processes, integrated photonics and existing telecommunications infrastructure.

I'm developing the essential elements of a silicon spin-photon quantum information architecture. Silicon hosts some of the longest-lived solid state qubits, and is one of the dominant platforms for integrated photonics including photonic quantum computation. Because light interacts only weakly with its environment, it is a natural and robust means of distributing entanglement with an exquisite degree of control. I identify chemical defects in silicon with long-lived and optically controllable spins as novel qubits and develop them as quantum spin-photon interfaces that combine the complemetary capabilities of silicon spin memories and integrated photonic networks.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

SFU has a close-knit community of researchers that fosters cross discipline research and discussion. This is exactly the environment that's needed as quantum computing breaks out of the lab.

Contact Daniel: daniel_higginbottom@sfu.ca

Website: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Daniel_Higginbottom