Oxford Physics Quantum projects secure industry funding

14 August 2017

The Department of Physics has been successful in winning funding for three new exciting projects in the latest quantum technologies competition, which was co-funded by Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Of the funding, 65% will go towards supporting company activities, and the remaining 35% to academic research.

Quantum Enhanced Sensing of Trace Compounds in Sealed Containers
In collaboration with Oxford Physics (led by Prof. Axel Kuhn), the start-up company VeriVin is exploring the usefulness of Quantum-Enhanced Sensing Techniques to investigate the chemical composition of complex liquids in sealed containers. The anticipated technique is a priori non-invasive and is expected to be sensitive at the single-molecule level. As a first commercial application, the partners plan to develop a method and eventually a stand-alone device that is capable of generating a molecular fingerprint of beverages, such as wine and beer, without opening the bottle. The CEO and founder of VeriVin is Dr Cecilia Muldoon, a former DPhil student in Oxford Physics.

Evaluation and Demonstration of Gravity Gradiometers
QinetiQ Ltd, Imperial College and Oxford Physics (led by Dr Simon Calcutt) will jointly investigate the use of novel gravity gradiometers to detect buried objects such as pipes, tunnels and sinkholes. The team will model the gravitational field of a range of buried targets, and investigate methods to mitigate noise and clutter and will determine what type of objects are detectable, at what range, and develop some outline Concepts of Operation. They will investigate the applicability of a range of sensors, both high performance quantum devices based on "cold atom fountains" and lower-cost MEMS-based devices, configured as gravity gradiometers, and compare them to the performance of commercially available sensors. Together, the collaboration will build a single-axis gravity gradiometer based on two existing gravimeters, and use this to validate their models through short field trials to demonstrate the detection of a buried object.

ESCHER: Establishing Supply Chains for Emergent Quantum Computers
The proposed project complements the work programme for the national hub in Networked Quantum Information Technologies (NQIT), led by Oxford Physics but encompassing all the partners as either participants or contributors, by developing the industrial role in the efforts of the national programme. The planned developments will help the industrial partners establish a native supply chain for critical components in the roadmap for the Q20:20 engine and beyond. The envisaged impact of fault tolerant quantum computing will have global significance and strengthening the UK's industrial participation in this area at this stage will ensure that researchers benefit from hardware capable of accelerating their own work. This value proposition will enable the companies to benefit immediately. The project partners for this grant are NQIT (Oxford, Southampton and Sussex), M-Squared Lasers Ltd and Covesion Ltd.