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Quantum Public Lecture Series

The Quantum Public Lecture Series is a public lecture series hosted by the Institute for Quantum Science and Technology in the Faculty of Science. Taking place once a year, the lectures bring in best-in-class speakers to Calgary to strengthen our science community and to increase scientific knowledge and awareness of quantum science.

Donna Strickland

Generating High-Intensity, Ultrashort Optical Pulses

Presenter:  Dr. Donna Strickland, Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Waterloo 
and Nobel Laureate (Physics 2018 )
Date: June 17, 2024
Time: 7:00 - 8:00 pm
Location:  Calgary Central Library

With the invention of lasers, the intensity of a light wave was increased by orders of magnitude over what had been achieved with a light bulb or sunlight. This much higher intensity led to new phenomena being observed, such as violet light coming out when red light went into the material. After Gérard Mourou and I developed chirped pulse amplification, also known as CPA, the intensity again increased by more than a factor of 1,000 and it once again made new types of interactions possible between light and matter. We developed a laser that could deliver short pulses of light that knocked the electrons off their atoms. This new understanding of laser-matter interactions, led to the development of new machining techniques that are used in laser eye surgery or micromachining of glass used in cell phones.

Donna Strickland is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo and is one of the recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 for developing chirped pulse amplification with Gérard Mourou, her PhD supervisor at the time. They published this Nobel-winning research in 1985 when Strickland was a PhD student at the University of Rochester in New York state. Together they paved the way toward the most intense laser pulses ever

Strickland was a research associate at the National Research Council Canada, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a member of technical staff at Princeton University. In 1997, she joined the University of Waterloo, where her ultrafast laser group develops high-intensity laser systems for nonlinear optics investigations.

Strickland was named a Companion of the Order of Canada. She is a recipient of a Sloan Research Fellowship, a Premier’s Research Excellence Award and a Cottrell Scholar Award. Strickland served as the president of the Optical Society (OSA) in 2013. She is a fellow of OSA and SPIE, the Royal Society of Canada and the Royal Society. She is an honorary fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering as well as the Institute of Physics. She is an international member of the US National Academy of Science.

Strickland earned a PhD in optics from the University of Rochester and a B.Eng. from McMaster University.

Registration will open soon!

Jun Ye

Quantum science and atomic clocks

Presenter:  Dr. Jun Ye, JILA, National Institute of Standards and Technology and University of Colorado
Date: November 16, 2023
Time: 7:00 - 8:00 pm
Location:  Telus Convention Centre, Calgary

This is an in-person event and the presentation will not be recorded.

Join Dr. Jun Ye as he discusses quantum state engineering, many-body physics, and innovative laser technology and how these research areas are revolutionizing the performance of atomic clocks and metrology, providing opportunities to explore emerging quantum phenomena and probe fundamental physics. Recent advances include precise control of atomic interactions to achieve high accuracy, determination of gravitational time dilation across a few hundred micrometers, and employment of spin entanglement for clock comparison.  

Jun Ye is a Fellow of JILA, a Fellow of NIST, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. His research focuses on the development of new tools for light-matter interactions and their applications in precision measurement, quantum science, and frequency metrology. He has co-authored over 400 scientific papers and delivered 600 invited talks. Among his many awards and honors are N.F. Ramsey Prize (APS), I.I. Rabi Award (IEEE), I.I. Rabi Prize (APS), and W.F. Meggers Award (OSA).  His recent 2022 honors include Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, Niels Bohr Institute Medal of Honour, Herbert Walther Award, and Vannevar Bush Fellowship.


A Taste of Quantum: A Quantum Leap in Quantum Information

Building Quantum Computers and Quantum Simulators with Cold Atoms and Ions

Presenter:  Peter Zoller, University of Innsbruck and Scientific Director at IQOQI Innsbruck
Date: October 11, 2022
Time: 5 - 9 p.m.

  • 5:00 - 6:30 p.m. - Quantum Sandbox Open 
  • 7:00 p.m. - Keynote Presentation with Dr. Peter Zoller

Location:  Atrium, Telus Spark Science Center, Calgary

Leap into the quantum realm and enjoy an evening of learning and immersive exploration. Spend time in the Quantum Sandbox. Enjoy a tasty quantum treat. Learn what harnessing the microscopic realm of quantum physics means for our society. 

This year's lecture is part of the University of Calgary's 2022 Alumni All Access programming, and is hosted in partnership with the Institute for Quantum Science and Technology, the department of Physics and Astronomy, and the Faculty of Science. 

On a microscopic scale our world is governed by quantum physics. Apart from fundamental the questions and ‘mysteries’, learning how to control this microscopic world provides exciting opportunities for new capabilities and quantum technologies—potentially more powerful than their non-quantum technology counterparts.

In this public lecture, we explore recent progress in building quantum computers and quantum simulators. We’ll look at quantum optical systems in which atoms and ions are manipulated by laser light, showing how quantum systems can be controlled on the level of single quanta. From trapped ions as a universal quantum processor to digital and analog quantum simulation, we will seek to understand what harnessing the microscopic realm of quantum physics means for our society.

Peter Zoller is a Professor for theoretical physics at the University of Innsbruck, and Scientific Director at IQOQI Innsbruck. His research interests include atomic physics and theoretical quantum optics, and many-body quantum physics with quantum gases, and quantum information, in close collaboration with experiment. Since 1981 he has trained 34 PhD students and hosted 57 Postdocs. Future ESQ Postdocs can develop their research profile benefiting from atomic physics and quantum optics, in particular quantum many-body physics at the interface to condensed matter physics and high energy physics, and quantum information.

Alán Aspuru-Guzik

Quantum algorithms for near-term quantum computers

Presenter:  Alán Aspuru-Guzik, University of Toronto
Date/Time: October 22, 2019 at 7:00 pm
Location:  ICT 102, University of Calgary
Event poster

I will present quantum algorithms for the current era of near-term intermediate-scale quantum computing, with potential applications to simulating quantum chemistry and quantum materials and usher in quantum machine learning.

Alán Aspuru-Guzik is the Canada 150 Research Chair in Quantum Chemistry and professor at the University of Toronto and a CIFAR Artificial Intelligence Chair at the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence. He works to integrate robotics, machine learning and high-throughput quantum chemistry to develop material acceleration platforms, which could accelerate scientific discovery for clean energy and optoelectronics. Alán also develops quantum computer algorithms for quantum machine learning and has pioneered quantum algorithms for the simulation of matter. Alán received the Google Focused Award in Quantum Computing and was named in the MIT Technology Review 35 under 35, as well as having held Sloan and Camille and Henry Dreyfus Fellowships. Alán is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society. He is a co-founder of Zapata Computing and Kebotix, two early-stage ventures in quantum computing and self-driving laboratories respectively.

Michael Roukes

Can we reverse-engineer the brain?

Presenter:  Michael Roukes, California Institute of Technology
Date/Time:  June 6, 2017 at 7:00 pm
Location: Science B 103, University of Calgary
Event poster

Although our understanding of the properties of individual neurons and their role in brain computations has advanced significantly over the past several decades, we are still far from elucidating how complex assemblies of neurons – that is, brain circuits – interact to process information. In 2011, six U.S. scientists from different disciplines banded together, outlined a vision [1,2], and managed to convince the Obama administration of the unprecedented opportunity that exists to launch a coordinated, large-scale international effort to map brain activity. This culminated in the U.S. BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies), which was launched in 2013. Our perspective was predicated, in part, on the current level of maturity of diverse fields of nanotechnology and silicon very-large-scale integration (VLSI) that can now be coalesced to create unprecedented tools for massively parallel interrogation of brain activity. We will outline the immense complexity of such pursuits, the hopes we articulated, survey the existing technological landscape for assembling the requisite instrumentation, and then focus upon our collaborative efforts toward tools enabling multi-physical interrogation of brain activity. We believe this technology will engender a spectrum of new possibilities for neuroscience and clinical neuromedicine.

[1] Alivisatos A.P., Chun M., Church G.M., Greenspan R.J., Roukes M.L., Yuste R., The Brain Activity Map project and the challenge of functional connectomics. Neuron 74, 970-974 (2012).

[2] Alivisatos A.P., Chun M., Church G.M., Greenspan R.J., Roukes M.L., Yuste R., A National Network of Neurotechnology Centers for the BRAIN Initiative. Neuron 88, 445-448 (2015).

Michael Roukes is the Robert M. Abbey Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He is renowned for his ground-breaking research in nanoscience and nanotechnology, and its application to neuroscience.

Prof. Roukes earned his Ph.D. in physics from Cornell University in 1985, where his graduate advisor was Nobel Laureate Robert Richardson. His thesis research revealed new physical effects that are relevant to the operation of nanoscale devices at the forefront of modern electronics technology.

In 1992, after seven years at Bell Communications Research (formerly Bell Labs), Prof. Roukes moved to the California Institute of Technology he where pioneered the field of nano-electromechanical systems (NEMS). His leadership contributed to the founding of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI) at Caltech in 2002. More recently he has advocated for large scale investment in neuroscience research, resulting in the BRAIN Initiative launched by the US government in 2013. His research accomplishments at Caltech include detection of mass with zeptogram accuracy, coupling of mechanical oscillators to superconducting qubits, nanomechanical mass spectroscopy of single molecules, and many more landmark studies of nanoscale systems.

Among his many honours, Prof. Roukes was awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director's Pioneer Award in 2010, was named Chevalier (Knight) of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the Republic of France in 2012, has contributed images from his research to the Museum of Modern Art, and has organized popular TEDxCaltech events on the Brain (2013) and on Richard Feynman’s continued influence on technology (2011).

Paul Corkum

A molecule takes a selfie while creating the world's shortest light pulses

Presenter:  Paul Corkum, University of Ottawa
Date/Time:  November 24, 2016 at 7:00 pm
Location:  MacEwan Ballroom, University of Calgary
Event poster

Paul Corkum started his career as a theoretical physicist but changed to experiment when he arrived as a Post doctoral Fellow at NRC in 1973. At NRC he concentrated first on laser physics but with the revolution in laser technology, intense laser pulses are now being applied in every discipline. Dr. Corkum anticipated their impact. He is best known for introducing many of the concepts in strong field atomic and molecular science. In the early 1990's a number of new, seemingly unconnected, phenomena were discovered in strong field atomic physics. Two of the most important of these are high harmonic generation and correlated double ionization (a phenomenon in which an atom absorbs 100's of photons and emits two electrons). Dr. Corkum developed a comprehensive theory of all of these phenomena. He then demonstrated its validity. This work is the foundation on which all subsequent research in this area has been built.

Canada Research Chair in Attosecond Photonics, Dr. Corkum is the Director of the Attosecond Science Program at NRC and a Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Ottawa. Over the years, Dr. Corkum has received several distinctions in recognition of his ground-breaking research. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (1996) and the Royal Society of London (2005) and an elected member of the US Academy of Science (2009).

Among his most prestigious prizes are the Canadian Association of Physicists' Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Physics (1996), the Royal Society of Canada's Tory Award (2003), the Optical Societies Charles H. Townes Award (2005) and the IEEE's Quantum Electronics Award (2005). In 2006, he has received the Killam Prize for natural sciences, and was awarded the American Physical Society's Arthur L. Schawlow Prize for Quantum Electronics. In 2007, he was inducted as an Officer to the Order of Canada and received NSERC's prestigious Polanyi Award in 2008.

In 2013, Dr. Corkum received two very prestigious international awards, the Harvey Prize from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology and the King Faisal International Prize for Science. The Optical Society of America (OSA) awarded him the Frederic Ives Medal in 2014 and in 2015, Dr. Corkum was named Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate, reserved for researchers who are "of Nobel class" and likely to earn the Nobel someday.

William D. Phillips

Time, Einstein and the Coolest Stuff in the Universe

Presenter:  William D. Phillips, University of Maryland and NIST Fellow. Nobel Laureate in Physics
Date/Time:  March 15, 2016 at 7:00 pm
Location:  B 142, University of Calgary (interactive video lecture broadcast from University of Alberta)
Host: Quantum Alberta
Event poster

Dr. Phillips is a Fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute, a NIST Fellow, and Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park. In 1997, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Steven Chu and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji for the development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.

Seth Lloyd

Teleportation, Time Travel and Escape from Black Holes

Presenter:  Seth Lloyd, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Date/Time:  November 18, 2015 at 7:00 pm   
Location:  MacEwan Ballroom, University of Calgary
Event poster

Dr. Lloyd received a Ph.D. in Physics from Rockefeller University, under the supervision of Professor Heinz Pagels. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the High Energy Physics Department at the California Institute of Technology, where he worked with Professor Murray Gell-Mann on applications of information to quantum-mechanical systems. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he worked at the Center for Nonlinear Systems on quantum computation. Since 1988, Dr. Lloyd has also been an adjunct faculty member at the Santa Fe Institute. He has performed seminal work in the fields of quantum computation and quantum communication, including proposing the first technologically feasible design for a quantum computer, demonstrating the viability of quantum analog computation, proving quantum analogs of Shannon's noisy channel theorem, and designing novel methods for quantum error correction and noise reduction. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and has just been appointed as the inaugural Nam P. Suh Professor in Mechanical Engineering. He wrote a book titled "Programming the Universe".

 Dr. Shohini Ghose

Seeing the invisible: Journey into the quantum world

Presenter:  Shohini Ghose, Wilfrid Laurier University
Date/Time:  June 11, 2015 at 5:00 pm      
Location:  ICT 121, University of Calgary
Event poster

From atomic structure, to the composition of stars, to teleportation, quantum physics has led to amazing discoveries over the past century. Understanding the microscopic world of atoms and photons has also led to modern technologies like lasers and computers that have transformed our everyday lives. Yet the quantum world remains a mysterious place full of bizarre phenomena such as entanglement and quantum uncertainty. This is the story of my voyage into this weird and wonderful invisible world, and the surprising lessons I learned about physics and about being a physicist.

John Clarke

The SQUID at 50: from cosmology to medicine

Presenter:  John Clarke, University of California, Berkeley 
Date/Time:  October 2, 2014 at 7:00 pm
Location:  MacEwan Ballroom, University of Calgary
Event poster

Professor John Clarke received his B.A. (1964), Ph.D. (1968), and Sc.D. (2005) from Cambridge University. After a postdoctoral fellowship at UC Berkeley, he joined the Physics faculty in 1969. He received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1983. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of London, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Institute of Physics (UK). He has been a Sloan Foundation Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow and a Miller Professor. In 1987, he was named California Scientist of the Year and was awarded the Fritz London Prize for research in low-temperature physics. In 1998, he received the American Physical Society's Joseph F. Keithley Award for Advances in Measurement Science and, in 1999, the National Academy of Sciences' Comstock Prize for Physics. He was awarded the Hughes Medal of the Royal Society in 2004, and was the UC Berkeley Faculty Research Lecturer in 2005.

Paul Davies

Time travel: can it really be done?

Presenter:  Paul Davies, Arizona State University 
Date/Time:  September 20, 2013
Location:  MacEwan Hall A & B, University of Calgary
Event poster

Professor Davies made seminal contributions in the area of "quantum field theory in curved space-time" and is an author of numerous best selling popular science books. His prestigious awards include the Kelvin Medal, the Faraday Prize and the Templeton Prize.

Alain Aspect

From Einstein's LichtQuanten to Wheeler's delayed choice: wave particle duality for a single photon

Presenter:  Alain Aspect, Institut d'Optique, Palaiseau 
Date/Time:  April 26, 2012 at 7:00 pm
Location:  ICT 102, University of Calgary
Event poster

Since the early days of quantum mechanics, and still in Feynman's lectures on physics, interference between spatially separated trajectories of a single particle has not ceased to fascinate physicists. I will present a realization in optics of that GedankenExperiment, realized with a true single photon source. It has even allowed us to implement Wheeler's delayed choice experiment, emphasizing the weirdness of wave particle duality for a single particle.

Alain Aspect is an internationally acclaimed physicist at the École Polytechnique in Paris. He is a pioneer in the foundations of quantum physics, including celebrated demonstrations of quantum non-locality (sometimes referred to as Einstein's spooky action at a distance). He received the 2010 Wolf Prize in Physics, which is one of the world's top science awards. In addition to his beautiful, convincing experiments, Dr. Aspect is famous for the clarity and general appeal of his presentations.

Sir Peter Knight

Quantum Technologies for the 21st Century

Presenter:  Sir Peter Knight, Kavli Royal Society International Centre and Imperial College London
Date/Time:  September 22, 2011 at 7:00 pm
Location:  ICT 102, University of Calgary
Event poster

Professor Sir Peter Knight FRS is Principal of the Kavli Royal Society International Centre and holds an emeritus position at Imperial College London. He has made numerous contributions to quantum physics, which have been recognized through prestigious awards including the Thomas Young and the Glazebrook Medals of the U.K. Institute of Physics, the Ives Medal of the Optical Society of America, the Royal Medal of the Royal Society and being knighted by the Queen in 2005. Until last year, Sir Peter was Chair of the Defence Scientific Advisory Council at the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence and continues as a science advisor to the U.K. Government.

 Jacob Bekenstein

The Limits of Information and Black Holes

Presenter:  Jacob Bekenstein, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Date/Time:  June 2, 2010 at 7:00 pm
Location:  ICT 102, University of Calgary
Event poster

Professor Bekenstein will tell us the absolute limit to information storage in any region of space and time by thinking of our world as a boundary for a larger-dimensional universe.

Professor Bekenstein was John Wheeler's doctoral student at Princeton University and is now Polak Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Hebrew University. He is a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and a recipient of the Israel Prize. He discovered the theory of black hole thermodynamics, which resulted in the famous Bekenstein-Hawking theory of black-hole radiation.