UKNQT Sensors and Metrology Hub

State-of-the-art lab technology into deployable practical devices

UK National Quantum Technologies Programme


UKNQT Sensors and Metrology Hub

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Project Description

Sensors can be found in our everyday lives, from smart phones and cars to industrial applications in manufacturing, engineering and imaging.

Led by the University of Birmingham, the Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Metrology brings together expertise in physics and engineering from the Universities of Birmingham, Glasgow, Nottingham, Southampton, Strathclyde and Sussex with over 70 industry partners.

The Hub’s teams are working to transform laboratory-based research into technology. They are developing smaller, cheaper, more accurate and energy efficient components and systems to build and sustain a supply chain which will have a potentially transformative impact across business and society as a whole.
Quantum superposition lies at the heart of quantum theory, allowing two classically distinct and exclusive alternatives to coexist. This well tested cornerstone of quantum mechanics will be exploited to produce quantum sensors based on laser cooling and trapping methods. These methods, for which the Nobel Prize was awarded in 1997, are used to prepare atoms and ions in a well-controlled motional state.

Tailored laser or microwave pulses are then used to create superposition states and recombine them after some measurement time, leading to interference in final state populations. The form of the pulses, laser geometry, and traps determines the measurement type. Separating the paths vertically, or so that they enclose an area, enables the measurement of gravity and rotation respectively.

Superposing different spin, or energy, states allows magnetic fields or time to be determined. In each case, the result is read out by state-selective detection of the relative population of the final states.

Project Details
  • Institute: UKNQT Sensors and Metrology Hub
  • Founded: 2014
  • Capabilities: Gravity sensors, magnetic sensors, rotation sensors, clocks, imaging, lasers, atomics
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