Lakehead University researcher is exploring the potential of quantum computers

Photo of a quantum computer
IBM Quantum Computer

April 21, 2023 – Thunder Bay, Ont. 

A Lakehead Thunder Bay Electrical Engineering professor is receiving $25,000 through NSERC to push the boundaries in the field of quantum computers. 

Dr. Ehsan Atoofian, Associate Professor in Electrical Engineering, will work with professors from Finland’s Aalto University and Germany’s Clausthal University of Technology for one year, thanks to funding through an Alliance International Catalyst Quantum Grant provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.  

Quantum computers are based on quantum mechanics. They offer a level of parallelism, meaning they can perform a large number of operations at the same time, that is beyond the capability of classical computers. 

This enables the execution of compute-intensive tasks that are not practical on classical computers. As an example, Google ran a quantum program on a 53-qubit machine in only 200 seconds – whereas the same task may take 10,000 years on a state-of-the-art classical supercomputer. 

Dr. Atoofian and his colleagues will work to create smaller, more efficient quantum arithmetic circuits and then implement them on real quantum computers. Arithmetic operations such as multiplication, division, square root, etc. are the backbone of many applications such as image processing applications. 

Photo of Dr. Ehsan Atoofian

“Research in quantum computing is in its early stages,” Dr. Atoofian said. 

“Quantum computers built by a few companies are noisy. Due to the noisy nature of contemporary quantum computers, it is not feasible to run quantum arithmetic units on quantum computers. We are simplifying quantum arithmetic units to overcome quantum noise. 

“So far, most research projects in quantum computing have focused on theory. However, we take a practical approach and implement quantum arithmetic units on actual quantum computers,” he said. 

By completing this work, the research team led by Dr. Atoofian will create new avenues for the implementation of large-scale applications on quantum computers, which have not been feasible until now.

Dr. Atoofian will use Zoom to communicate with his colleagues, Prof. Alexandru Paler from the Department of Computer Science at Aalto University, and Prof. Robert Basmadjian from the Department of Computer Engineering within the Institute for Informatics at the Clausthal University of Technology. 

They will have access to a quantum computer located in New York, which they will use remotely. 

Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Lakehead’s Vice-President, Research and Innovation, congratulated Dr. Atoofian and his team on receiving this Alliance Grant from NSERC. 

“Quantum computing may well be one of the most significant future advances in computing,” Dr. Dean said. 

“Calculations will be at speeds that are not even imaginable today. Being involved in the theory and then actually being able to verify those results with quantum computing is extremely exciting research.”

In 2021/22, Lakehead University received nearly $2 million in assistance from the Research Support Fund to support the indirect costs of research, which includes costs for supporting the management of intellectual property, research and administration, ethics and regulatory compliance, research resources, and research facilities. 




– 30 –





Media: For more information or interviews, please contact Brandon Walker, Media, Communications and Marketing Associate, at (807) 343-8110 ext. 8372 or


Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has nine faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2023 World Universities Rankings for the fourth consecutive year, and the number one university in the world with fewer than 10,000 students in THE’s 2022 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit