Taking Quantum Technology to the heart of Government

28th April 2016
Nanotechnology with microlenses, computer generated abstract background

University of Birmingham researchers from the Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology recently participated in an interactive ‘Hands On Science’ exhibition at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) offices in London. They were invited to participate by Professor Tim Dafforn, the Chief Scientific Adviser for BIS.

The exhibit featured a number of demonstrators, which illustrate how developing research in gravity measurement can be used to provide solutions in real-life scenarios. The applications are wide-ranging; they include the location and assessment of buried infrastructure (including most utility services – electricity, water, gas and telecommunications), water resource management and planning, as well as oil and mineral exploration.

Dr Nicole Metje who leads the Hub’s work in this area said: ‘Demonstrating our capability to BIS was really exciting as we can ensure the Government is taken on the journey of discovery and our significant progress is shared widely.’

This research, now a key aspect of the Quantum Technology Hub programme, builds on the work undertaken by civil engineers and physicists, who collaborate to bring about a step-change in underground sensing and mapping using quantum technology.

Using a technique called atom interferometry, cold atoms are used to create a gravity sensor that can detect changes in mass and density below ground with significantly greater accuracy than ‘traditional’ devices. They are also much more resilient against environmental noise, including vibration from traffic, wind and ocean tides. Such developments open up new and significant implications for the economy and society as a whole.

Our researchers welcomed this opportunity to demonstrate and discuss the many and varied potential applications of this transformative technology with BIS officials, who provided very positive feedback. It is hoped to further explore such opportunities in the future, highlighting other areas of research activity currently being undertaken by the Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology.