UK invests £20 million to pioneer quantum sensing technologies

April 2, 2018
This pioneer funding will be used to establish whether more significant future funding could help UK businesses to establish a global advantage.

The UK’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will invest £20 million to support the development of three to five prototype quantum-enabled devices that could be used in future sensors, consumer electronics and digital services. This pioneer funding will be used to establish whether more significant future funding could help UK businesses to establish a global advantage.

Speaking at a National Physical Laboratory quantum industry dinner, Interim Challenge Director Sir Peter Knight, said: To secure the UK lead in this area and make sure that UK companies take a significant share of this large future sector, we must act now with a focus more than ever on working across the spectrum of industry, academia, and across government to achieve innovation.

Three quantum technologies research and innovation projects are case studies for the future:

Cold atoms space payload (CASPA): A team led by Teledyne e2v is developing a small satellite payload to generate cold atoms in space. The CASPA project is intended to demonstrate that the core technology in space would represent an important step towards the future realization of instruments that can map the changes in gravity across the Earth. The project is funded by Innovate UK, with co-funding from Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). It involves Gooch & Housego, Clyde Space, XCAM, Covesion, and the universities of Birmingham and Southampton.

Single Pixel Imaging Technology (QUANTIC): Researchers at QuantiC have developed imaging technology using a single pixel camera that is capable of seeing through smoke, visualizing gas leaks, and capturing high precision 3D images. The technology combines low-cost micro-mirror arrays and image reconstruction algorithms to capture video-rate images of a scene faster than existing scanning systems. Working in collaboration with industry partners, including M Squared Lasers and Leonardo, QuantiC has developed prototypes for gas sensing and computational 3D lidar systems with the potential to impact the heavy industry and defense and security sectors.

Going Deeper Underground: Physicists and civil engineers at the UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Metrology, in collaboration with industrial partners such as Te2v and RSK, are developing quantum gravity sensors to locate utilities buried underground without having to excavate. The sensors have the potential to speed up the location process 100x and lead to annual savings to the UK economy of several hundreds of millions of pounds. The work builds on two EPSRC-funded projects led by civil engineers at the University of Birmingham, which made huge strides in the development of a shared multisensor platform through the application of technologies such as vibro-acoustics, passive magnetic fields and ground penetrating radar.

Source: UK Research & Innovation

About the Author

Conard Holton | Editor at Large

Conard Holton has 25 years of science and technology editing and writing experience. He was formerly a staff member and consultant for government agencies such as the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and engineering companies such as Bechtel. He joined Laser Focus World in 1997 as senior editor, becoming editor in chief of WDM Solutions, which he founded in 1999. In 2003 he joined Vision Systems Design as editor in chief, while continuing as contributing editor at Laser Focus World. Conard became editor in chief of Laser Focus World in August 2011, a role in which he served through August 2018. He then served as Editor at Large for Laser Focus World and Co-Chair of the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar from August 2018 through January 2022. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, with additional studies at the Colorado School of Mines and Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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