I am enjoying how the research pushes me to use new tools and techniques when solving problems.

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Student Profile: Joshua Kanaganayagam

February 19, 2021
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Physics master's student in the Faculty of Science

I am a student who loves Math and Physics. I was very fortunate to have an international childhood; my family has lived in British Columbia, Hong Kong and England over the years. This has given me the opportunity to make friends around the world and experience a variety of different cultures. I studied at the University of Waterloo for my undergraduate degree, majoring in mathematical physics with a minor in pure math. During my summers I returned to BC to do research for the Silicon Quantum Technology group at SFU. I have now joined the SQT group for my master’s as well. My long term goal is to become a professor in either applied math or theoretical physics. I hope that my enrollment in this master’s program will help me achieve this goal.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

I chose to come to SFU due to the competitive research being conducted here. I really liked working with the SQT group during my undergrad research terms. This team at SFU shows great potential in the race to build a useful Quantum Computer. It was quite a natural choice to do my master’s here. My supervisor Stephanie Simmons has great ambitions for this team. I am very grateful for the guidance and wisdom she provides.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?

My research is in quantum computing. Quantum computers are similar to “classical” computers, which everyone is familiar with. Instead of using bits that are either 0 or 1, quantum computers use qubits, which can be in a superposition of 0 and 1 at the same time. Using properties of quantum mechanics like entanglement, it is possible for quantum computers to perform many calculations simultaneously. For some problems, quantum algorithms can execute exponentially faster than classical algorithms. This means that quantum computers can solve difficult problems beyond reach of the best supercomputers in the world. The race to build a useable quantum computer is underway. My project specifically revolves around a defect in silicon known as the T center. This center contains carbon atoms, a hydrogen atom and an electron. These particles come with quantum spins. We intend to use these spins within the T center as qubits in the quantum computer. It is my job to analyse the Hamiltonian of this T center, which determines how this quantum system evolves in time. Quantum computers will revolutionize our lives, similar to how classical computers have done so. Science and technology will advance due to the solutions obtained from quantum calculations.

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

Studying at SFU has been enjoyable thus far due to the dedicated community. Despite being unable to meet in person, the staff have gone out of their way to help us feel welcome. I am enjoying how the research pushes me to use new tools and techniques when solving problems.

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS? IF SO, PLEASE TELL US WHICH ONES AND A LITTLE ABOUT HOW THE AWARDS HAVE IMPACTED YOUR STUDIES AND/OR RESEARCH.

I am very grateful to have received the BC Graduate scholarship and Dean’s Graduate Fellowship. These awards allow me to focus on my courses and research, without having to spend time on additional sources of income.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE?

Before starting this program I have tutored students in math and physics. Teaching these concepts and helping people understand them is something I have really enjoyed.

 

Contact Joshua: jkanagan@sfu.ca