The University of British Columbia

UBC Institutes for Global Research Excellence: Quantum Materials and Future Technologies

The University of British Columbia (UBC) has established an outstanding theoretical and experimental quantum materials research group over the past two decades. The UBC Quantum Matter Institute has become a global hub of research excellence, with the potential to spur a new technological revolution in computing, electronics, medicine and sustainable energy.

The Canada First Research Excellence Fund investment will enable UBC to build on the work of its internationally recognized team of leading researchers. The funding will allow the university to attract and retain the brightest minds in quantum matter research, expand new and existing international partnerships, especially the prestigious Max Planck-UBC Center for Quantum Materials, and train the next generation of quantum matter researchers.

The funding will support the entire research lifecycle. This includes expanding on the research team’s existing core strength of investigating and understanding the fundamental properties of new quantum materials. It will also let the team increase their emphasis on controlling quantum materials and engineering devices that can serve as starting points for applied research and technology development. Ultimately, it will lead to translating these discoveries, with industrial partners and spin-off companies, into new applications and products that generate social, environmental and economic impacts.

Quantum materials have a wide range of astonishing electronic and magnetic properties that evoke the most profound scientific questions challenging condensed matter physics. While classical physics describes the normal behavior of matter and energy at the larger, macroscopic scale, quantum physics explains unusual phenomena that take place at the atomic level.

Quantum effects are more obvious under extreme conditions, such as at low temperatures, but can also be enhanced by restricting layers of material to single atoms in thickness, and examining what happens at the interfaces between materials constructed layer-by-layer with atomic precision.

By controlling quantum materials, researchers could reduce MRI scanners from the size of a garden shed to the size of a laptop, develop super-efficient electrical grids, or economize on superconductive materials like the ones used in magnetic levitation trains, among other applications. These materials could also lead to a wide range of more efficient and powerful computing and electronic devices, such as high-performance batteries and supercapacitors, ultra-low power / high-speed transistors, new computing architectures, and ultrasensitive biosensors.

In the same way silicon was the basis of the microelectronics era and the rise of Silicon Valley as an economic power, the far richer set of properties emerging in quantum materials has the potential to completely revolutionize current technologies.

The Fund investment in the Quantum Matter Institute—a team already acknowledged as a global leader in its field—will enhance UBC and Canada’s role as an originator and innovator in this revolutionary field, and will help foster a high-tech quantum materials research epicentre around UBC with benefits to local, national and global communities.

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Global Research Excellence Institutes