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Xanadu Award

Announcing the Xanadu Award for an Outstanding Publication by a PhD Student

With support from Xanadu, we are pleased to announce that the Faculty of Arts & Science and the Department of Physics have established the Xanadu Award for an Outstanding Publication by a PhD Student.

This $5,000 scholarship will be awarded to one or more PhD students in the Department of Physics in recognition of the publication of a peer-reviewed article in an academic journal on a topic related to quantum information and quantum optics.

This award is the result of a donation of $25,000 over five years from Xanadu, a Toronto-based start-up company with close ties to the Department of Physics. A number of former post-doctoral fellows, PhD students and undergraduate students are affiliated with Xanadu and Xanadu continues to work through the MITACS program with U of T Physics faculty.

Due to their current and past relationships with the University of Toronto, Xanadu founder and CEO Christian Weedbrook says “we wanted to encourage students in the field of quantum information and quantum optics and to let them know that Xanadu, and many other quantum startups in Canada, exist when they graduate.”

Application requirements include a peer-reviewed article on a topic related to quantum information and quantum optics and a cover letter explaining the significance of the paper in one or two paragraphs.

The 2021 recipient, Xiaoqing Zhong (below) was selected by the Xanadu Award Committee of the Department of Physics in April 2021. She received the award for her paper, "Proof-of-principle experimental demonstration of twin-field quantum key distribution over optical channels with asymmetric losses", published in Quantum Information. She says "I am truly honored to receive the Xanadu Award. The recognition to my publication is deeply appreciated. Special thanks go to my supervisors, Prof. Li Qian and Prof. Hoi-Kwong Lo, and my college Dr. Wenyuan Wang, all of whom have made important contributions to the publication. Without their effort, I would not be able to receive the award. This award will motivate me to work harder in future research."


Xiaoqing's research is about Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), which is a fundamental technology in quantum communication. It enables two remote users to share secure keys for encryption and authentication with information-theoretical security. Compared with classical public key encryption systems, the security of which depends on the computation difficulty of certain mathematic functions, the encryption system with QKD has provable security that relies on the foundation of quantum mechanics. She is working on experimentally building and testing different QKD systems, trying to shorten the gap between theory and experiment and making QKD more practical and feasible for real world applications.

Professor Hoi-Kwong on the Xanadu Award: “Xanadu's CEO, Dr. Christian Weedbrook was a former postdoc of me, Prof. Li Qian and also Prof. Daniel James. I am delighted to see that Dr. Christian Weedbrook's firm, Xanadu, is successful and is giving back to the University of Toronto. I am also delighted that Xiaoqing Zhong, the new generation of graduate students from my group (co-supervised by Prof. Li Qian) has now won the first Xanadu Award. Let the trend of success continue!

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