Ideas Lab is an independent research laboratory in Waterloo, Ontario. Our mission is to accelerate quantum technology for the economic and societal benefit of Canada. We pursue projects with near-term horizons offering significant performance improvements over the state-of-the-art in commercial and defence applications.

Our project teams are structured cross-functionally, consisting of optical scientists, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) experts, and software engineers.

Our facilities include temperature and humidity-controlled optics labs, clean fabrication space, world-class additive and subtractive manufacturing, electronics labs, and radio frequency testing, including a 3m anechoic chamber rated to above 110 GHz.

Woman working in a lab
Various people working in a clean room
Experimental setup in an anechoic chamber

Rydberg Atom Quantum Sensing is a key focus area at Ideas Lab. These sensors employ trace amounts of alkali atoms, such as cesium, contained in small enclosures (vapour cells) that can be transparent to radio frequency (RF) waves using multiple laser beams. The atoms are tailored to receive RF signals.

Prototype systems using Rydberg atom quantum sensors can be compact, robust, and operate at room temperature. Once electrons are excited with light to ‘Rydberg states’, they are highly responsive to RF external electric fields.

Each electron in an ensemble of atoms acts as an extremely accurate RF antenna. Together, they make possible highly precise RF measurements far beyond what is possible with classical alternatives.

An RF source points at a vapour cell, through which 2 lasers are counterpropagating. A magnified view of a Cesium atom and its energy levels are shown.