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Perimeter founding faculty member Raymond Laflamme named to Order of Canada

Raymond Laflamme, a founding Perimeter faculty member and longtime director of the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo, has been granted one of Canada’s highest civilian honours.

Raymond Laflamme has been a driving force in Canada’s emergence over the past two decades as a global leader in quantum information science.

Portrait of Perimeter Institute founding faculty member Raymond Laflamme named to the Order of Canada
Perimeter founding faculty member Raymond Laflamme

His recent appointment to the Order of Canada celebrates his “outstanding achievements as an administrator and researcher who has advanced quantum science and technology in Canada.”

Laflamme was among 125 new appointments to the Order of Canada, announced in late December by Governor General Julie Payette.

“I am deeply honored by this recognition, and it should be shared with the team that has contributed to make it possible and who have inspired me,” Laflamme told the Waterloo Region Record.

Laflamme is a pioneer in quantum information processing who spent nearly a decade at the Los Alamos National Laboratory before he was recruited in 2001 to become one of Perimeter’s founding faculty members, and to become founding Director of the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo in 2002.

In the ensuing 15 years, under Laflamme’s leadership, IQC has grown from an idea to a world-leading centre for multidisciplinary research that is harnessing the quantum laws of nature to create the next generation of transformational technologies.

Laflamme has been a driving force in the establishment of the “Quantum Valley” ecosystem in Waterloo Region, which spans foundational theory (Perimeter Institute), experiment (IQC), commercialization (Quantum Valley Investments), and entrepreneurship (the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University).

In his scientific work, Laflamme pioneered theoretical and experimental approaches to quantum information processing and quantum error correction. In subsequent work, he pioneered approaches to quantum computing using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and linear optics.

Prior to his groundbreaking work in quantum computing, Laflamme studied cosmology at the University of Cambridge under Stephen Hawking (and changed Hawking’s mind about the “arrow of time,” as recounted in Hawking’s bestseller A Brief History of Time). 

The appointment to the Order of Canada ends 2017 on “an incredibly positive note,” said Laflamme, who spent much of the year recovering from chemotheraphy and ratiation treatments for lung cancer.

In September, it was announced that Laflamme will hold a new research chair into quantum error correction at the University of Waterloo. His term as executive director at IQC ended in the summer.

Laflamme also holds the Canada Research Chair in Quantum Information, and remains a founding associate faculty member at Perimeter Institute.

Perimeter Institute Director Neil Turok described Laflamme as “a pioneering scientist and a builder, not only of a pathbreaking institution in IQC, but of our entire unique community. His brilliance, humility, personal warmth, and generosity make Ray a true Canadian treasure.”

About PI

Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement. 

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