At the University of Sussex, The Quantum Systems and Devices (QSD) group’s research is focused on a wide scope of sensors using ultracold atoms and warm atomic vapours. Quantum magnetometers are able to pick up even the tiniest of magnetic fields which makes them ultra-sensitive and useful as sensors. The group’s atomic gas research focuses on using these quantum sensors in a range of areas.
Magnetic mapping navigation
With the problems associated with GPS, more reliable navigation systems are required. The QSD team are developing technology where a quantum sensor is used to pick up the magnetic field in any given location. A computer will then use this information and compare it to a master map of the earth’s magnetic fields to give an exact location. This has potential to transform the future of navigation technology by not only making the location pin point accurate but completely reliable due to not necessitating a satellite connection. This could make navigation available in places without a satellite signal such as underground, in tunnels, in remote locations, or where a signal has been scrambled.
Electric vehicle batteries
In collaboration with partner company CDO2, the QSD group are developing real-time current density imaging systems using classical and quantum sensors. These systems are used to measure the current flow inside electric vehicle batteries to estimate their charge, health and detect faults early. In a fast growing electric vehicle market with government targets to stop the production of new diesel and petrol cars, this technology has potential to significantly improve both safety and durability of the batteries.
The QSD team are exploring ways of using quantum sensors to perform magnetoencephalography (MEG) – a sophisticated tool with the potential to yield rich information on the spatial, spectral and temporal signatures of human brain function. In a healthcare setting this method could ultimately replace SQUID technology as a mainstream more affordable option.