McGuinty impressed by new Waterloo innovative research centre
August 26, 2009
By Luisa D’Amato, Record staff
WATERLOO — Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty walked into a half-finished building at the University of Waterloo that’s being built to avoid vibrations and dust particles.
So sensitive is the research into quantum computing and nanotechnology in this new $200-million building that the floors of certain laboratories have to be suspended from above. The concrete supports are extra thick and rigid to withstand vibrations.
Certain rooms have to be clear of disabling dust particles. And the electrical system of each lab will be isolated from all the others to stop a power surge in one from affecting another.
This is what the science of the future requires, and McGuinty praised the project Monday as “exactly the kind of thing that Ontarians are looking for.
“We’re going to create new knowledge here,” he said.
The seven-storey building and equipment, to open in spring 2011, is funded by, among others: Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis, who gave $101 million for quantum computing; the province for $75 million; and the federal government for $29 million.
It will house the Institute for Quantum Computing — the biggest centre of its kind in the world — and the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, the largest nanotechnology engineering program in Canada.
Both disciplines are considered to be the leading edge of the technological change in the 21st century.
Nanotechnology is the science of the very small, foreseeing the day when, for example, medication could be delivered precisely to individual cells of the body.
By 2015, it’s estimated the world market for nano-enabled products will be $2 trillion, said Arthur Carty, the institute’s executive director.
Meanwhile, quantum computing foresees infinitely more powerful and secure information processing than we have now. It’s a discipline said to be at the crossroads of physics, mathematics, philosophy, computer science and engineering.
McGuinty asked questions and listened to academics, construction officials and university president David Johnston describe the progress of the building and the possibilities of the technology.
“Everybody looks the same!” he joked, alluding to the sea of goggles, hard hats and safety vests around him as he walked through the site.