Stephanie Simmons renamed Canada Research Chair in Silicon Quantum Technologies

June 02, 2022

When Stephanie Simmons was 16 years old she asked for, and received, a copy of Nielsen and Chuang’s Quantum Computation and Quantum Information for Christmas.

Today she is a world-leading expert in the development of quantum technologies, silicon spin-photon interfaces, condensed matter spin dynamics and control, silicon integrated photonics, and quantum optics. Her work has garnered multiple honours, including a Physics World Top Ten Breakthrough of the Year award in 2013 and 2015, and has been covered by the CBC, BBC, Wired Magazine, Scientific American, the New Scientist, and the New York Times.

Simmons joined SFU in 2015 as a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Quantum Nanoelectronics, and along with professor emeritus Michael Thewalt, leads SFU’s Silicon Quantum Technology Lab, where she is working to achieve her goal of producing a network of quantum computers  able to solve difficult problems beyond the capability of today’s supercomputers.

“For a lot of problems that we’re trying to solve with computers today, things get difficult really quickly,” she says, “In classical computing, large-scale computational challenges – like chemical simulations, material simulations, and cryptography and breaking codes – the computing work grows significantly with each addition to the dataset. Quantum computing brings a whole new approach to this class of computational challenges which cannot be addressed sufficiently today.”

For certain kinds of applications, quantum technology has the potential to provide exponentially faster computing than is possible today, opening the possibility for new means of drug discovery, finding new sustainable materials, and communicating more securely, if researchers can develop the quantum systems to make it a reality.

In the race to develop scalable quantum technologies, Simmons believes that the unique properties of silicon make it the best possible material to produce the long-lived qubits necessary for quantum computing, as well as telecommunications-band photons suitable for quantum networking.

Her research is showing promising results. Recent work demonstrates stable memory and powerful communications capabilities of silicon quantum technologies. “SFU, and the Canadian government’s investment in quantum computing has allowed Canada to punch above our weight globally, and we look forward to continuing our leading research.”  

Simmons’ Canada Research Chair position at SFU, fittingly renamed to Silicon Quantum Technologies, is being renewed for a second term. In addition to her lab in the Department of Physics, Simmons works collaboratively with the Quantum Algorithms Institute (QAI), hosted at SFU, and with the federal government’s Quantum Encryption and Science Satellite (QEYSSat) mission on quantum communications networks in space. She was recently appointed to the Council of Canadian Academies Expert Panel on Quantum Technologies and she is the Chief Quantum Officer at Photonic Inc. In 2022 she was awarded a prestigious NSERC Arthur B. McDonald Fellowship.