Developing waveguides for next generation technology with Covesion

2nd February 2021

Building technology for real-world applications has always been a key aim for the UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing since its formation in 2014.  Covesion, co-founded by Hub researcher Professor Corin Gawith at the University of Southampton, has achieved this through successfully developing Periodically Poled Lithium Niobate (PPLN) waveguides for the commercial market, thus facilitating high-level technology fit for the future.

Corin and his colleagues at Covesion and the University of Southampton have played a prominent part in the Quantum Technology Hub’s first phase, which ended in 2019. Among Corin’s most notable milestones was being awarded Hub funding for a Partnership Resource Funded project titled Scalable Nonlinear Optical Waveguides for Quantum Atom Traps (SNOWQAT) alongside Teledyne e2v, to develop a range of PPLN waveguides for use in satellite imaging and gravity mapping of the Earth. These waveguides were then introduced and successfully sold as products by Covesion in 2019.

Covesion PPLN waveguides

PPLN waveguides developed at Covesion provide highly efficient and cost-effective frequency conversion, allowing customers to specify particular wavelengths when these are not available from a commercial laser source. Along with most of the technology built by Covesion, the waveguides provide the necessary underpinning technology to help Hub researchers develop compact, resilient and cost-efficient quantum sensors, ready to be used in defence, space, navigation and environmental gravity sensing applications.

Corin said: “funding from the Hub was instrumental to transferring our PPLN waveguide technology from the laboratory to commercial products. Working closely with Covesion and Teledyne e2v highlighted the need for rugged, reliable components which will in turn enable new environmental measurement applications in satellite imaging and gravity mapping of the Earth”.

In the Quantum Technology Hub, a number of academics from UK universities have used knowledge and expertise gained from the Hub’s unique structure of cross-disciplinary research in partnership with industry to launch companies aiming to commercialise technology e.g. Cerca and Aquark. These steps into commercial reality represent the early introduction of quantum sensors into real-world applications, and soon into everyday lives.

Covesion’s success is just one example of what can be achieved when merging research expertise with industrial knowledge. Over a decade since it was launched, Covesion have become the global market leaders for high efficiency PPLN waveguides and bulk crystals, with an established user base of quantum research groups and international system companies.

Mike Day, CEO of Covesion said “The collaboration with the UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing has opened up a wide range of growth opportunities for Covesion and is a real-world example of investment in technology generating value for UK PLC”.

For more information on Covesion, visit their website at



About the UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing

The UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing (led by the University of Birmingham) brings together world-leading experts from Physics and Engineering from the Universities of Birmingham, Glasgow, Imperial, Nottingham, Southampton, Strathclyde and Sussex, NPL and the British Geological Survey to drive commercial exploitation of quantum sensor technology in collaboration with industry. Particular areas of focus are magnetometry, geophysics, navigation, timing and underpinning technology aimed at reducing the size, weight power and cost of future sensor systems. The QT Hub, which has over 100 projects valued at approximately £100 million, is keen to collaborate with industry companies to further advance quantum sensor technologies.

The UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing is part of the National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP), which was established in 2014 and has EPSRC, IUK, STFC, MOD, NPL, BEIS, and GCHQ as partners. Four Quantum Technology Hubs were set up at the outset, each focussing on specific application areas with anticipated societal and economic impact. The Commercialising Quantum Technologies Challenge (funded by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund) is part of the NQTP and was launched to accelerate the development of quantum enabled products and services, removing barriers to productivity and competitiveness. The NQTP is set to invest £1B of public and private sector funds over its ten-year lifetime.

About Covesion

Covesion is a world leading designer, innovator & manufacturer of magnesium doped, periodically polled lithium niobite (MgO:PPLN)  for highly efficient non-linear frequency conversion. With over 20 years of experience in the manufacture of PPLN, the team of experts at Covesion are well equipped to provide insight and guidance on the design of systems for generating visible and IR light.

MgO:PPLN is ideal for innovative laser applications due to its high effective nonlinear coefficient; allowing for high efficiency frequency conversion across multiple different mechanisms. MgO:PPLN supports a wide range of applications such as: quantum computing; frequency doubling of femtosecond lasers; mid-infrared generation; atom cooling; terahertz generation and biomedical imaging.

Off-the-shelf crystals & waveguides are available for SHG, DFG, OPO and SFG interactions. Covesion also manufactures a range of ovens and a temperature controller for precision thermal management.

The addition of MgO:PPLN waveguides to the Covesion product range allows end users to exploit greater conversion efficiencies and save on unnecessary pump sources within their applications. Waveguides are available as standalone chips or as robust, ruggedized packages with APC Fiber connectors.

A custom design and fabrication service provides application-specific technical consultation with specialist grating design and contract manufacture. A range of custom design packages are available, including: one-off crystals, OEM prototyping and large-volume manufacture.