Scientist Gilles Brassard has won Canada's top medal for science and engineering, the federal Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council announced Tuesday.

Brassard  snapped up the prestigious Gerhard Herzberg medal a year after the academic from the University of Montreal was a runner-up for the same award.

Quirks & Quarks

Listen to Bob McDonald's interview with Gilles Brassard.

Brassard, an expert in the fields of quantum teleportation and quantum cryptography, also receives a total of $1 million in research grant money over the next five years, according to NSERC.

NSERC, the federal council responsible for awarding research monies, also announced 18 other winners who will share five prizes in scientific research, including the John C. Polanyi Award, named after the Canadian Nobel Prize winner.

"These award winners are wonderful examples of what Canadian science has achieved.  They highlight the great promise of breakthrough discoveries," said NSERC president Suzanne Fortier said in a news release.

Brassard has gained a worldwide reputation for using quantum mechanics in computer technology and for developing ways of better protecting communications signals sent out over the airwaves.

His developments "make it possible to communicate in perfect secrecy under the nose of an eavesdropper," NSERC said in the scientist's 2009 biography.

Winners of other awards announced Tuesday included:

  • Four scientists from the University of Toronto who developed innovative thermal heating technologies;
  • Alexandre Blais, from the University of Sherbrooke, who has helped boost information processing speeds.
  • Graham Scott, from the University of British Columbia, who has advanced respiratory physiology to improve athletic performance.