UK's Quantum Hubs show future technology

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Photo of man looking through microscope in a laboratory setting

A packed audience at the Royal Society in London was given sight of the new technologies being developed at the UK's four Quantum Technology Hubs yesterday at the first Quantum Technology Showcase.

Three hundred delegates from industry, business and government heard how the £270 million UK National Quantum Technologies Programme (UKNQTP) was drawing the country's research base together with industry, research funding bodies and other government agencies to accelerate the transition of new technologies from the laboratory to industry.

Research teams from the universities and companies involved in the Hubs demonstrated how the unique properties of the quantum realm are being used to advance technologies in measurement, security, computing, imaging and sensing.

Projects to develop superfast cameras that can see round corners, ultra-sensitive gravity sensors that can find oil and gas reservoirs and unbreakable encryption systems that can detect eavesdropping of optical fibres were just some of the exhibits on show.

Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which funds the Hubs and other parts of the programme, said; This showcase is a really exciting event and there is clearly a huge amount of interest in what the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme can deliver. The fact that there is a constant conversation and circulation of knowledge between the partners about the research and its potential uses makes this national programme a first. I am confident that it will keep the UK in the vanguard of many research areas and bring about world changing technologies.

The event was organised to mark the first anniversary of the UK National Quantum Technology Hubs which were set up in November 2014. The Hubs have been formed by a consortium of 17 universities led by the universities of Birmingham, Glasgow, Oxford and York, funded by EPSRC.

Professor David Delpy, Chair of the UKNQTP said: The vision for the programme is a coherent community that gives the UK a world-leading position in these emerging multi-million pound markets. The five year programme will keep us at the leading edge and provide an easy entry point for companies interested in exploiting the potential of quantum technologies.

Notes for Editors:

Images available on request.

The UK National Quantum Technologies Programme (UKNQTP) aims to ensure the successful transition of quantum technologies from laboratory to industry. The programme is delivered by EPSRC, Innovate UK, BIS, NPL, GCHQ, Dstl and the KTN.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800m a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

The Four Hubs

The University of Birmingham (led by Professor Kai Bongs) - UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Metrology

Quantum Sensors and Metrology will dramatically improve the accuracy of measurement of time, frequency, rotation, magnetic fields, gravity and other key fundamental measures, which will have impact across a wide range of fields, from electronic stock trading to GPS navigation They will deliver unprecedented views into the brain for dementia research and into the ground allowing reduced roadworks, detecting sinkholes and finding archaeological treasures.

The Birmingham-led hub will partner with academics at the universities of Southampton, Strathclyde, Sussex, Nottingham and Glasgow and aims to build a supply chain for quantum sensor technology, build a series of quantum sensor and metrology prototype devices and develop the market and links between academia and industry.

The University of Glasgow (led by Professor Miles Padgett) - QuantIC (Quantum Enhanced Imaging / Sensing)

QuantIC will develop new types of camera with unprecedented sensitivity and the capacity to time the arrival of the detected light. These cameras will open up new markets in medical imaging; security and environmental monitoring; and manufacturing of high value materials. Quantum cameras will be able to visualise gas leaks, see clearly through smoke, look round corners or underneath the skin. Quantum sensors developed by the Hub will detect single contaminant molecules and detect electromagnetic and gravitational fields with exceptional sensitivity. 

The University of Glasgow-led hub will partner with academics from the universities of Bristol, Edinburgh, Oxford, Strathclyde, and Heriot-Watt University.

The University of Oxford (led by Professor Ian Walmsley) - Networked Quantum Information Technologies (NQIT) (Quantum Computing/Simulation)

Quantum information processing will enable users to solve problems that even the most powerful of today's supercomputers struggle with. They will accelerate the discovery of new drugs or materials by simulating different molecular designs using programmable software, thus dramatically reducing the laborious trial and error of making each molecule in the laboratory.

Another application is making sense of 'big data', the immense torrent of information about economics, climate, and health that can help us make better predictions of future trends.

The Oxford-led hub will partner with academics from the universities of Bath, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Leeds, Southampton, Strathclyde, Sussex and Warwick, as well as dozens of national and international companies.

The University of York (led by Professor Tim Spiller) - Quantum Communications Hub

Quantum Communications can transform the security of data and transactions across multiple sectors and users, ranging from government and industry to commerce and consumers.

The York-led hub is aiming for breakthroughs that will lead to widespread and affordable use of the technology. These include: chip-scale integration based on Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), thus reducing the size and manufacturing costs of equipment; building a UK Quantum network for the demonstration and testing of new equipment and services - providing early access to advanced technologies for industry, business clusters and communities of users.

The Hub partnership includes leading researchers from the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Heriot-Watt, Leeds, Royal Holloway, Sheffield, Strathclyde and York, collaborating with world-class researchers working in the labs of industrial partners.

Several companies and organisations are formally involved in one or more of the Hubs these include: BT, Toshiba, e2v, M Squared Lasers, Dstl, AWE, NPL, Thales, Coherent Lasers, BP, Compound Semiconductor, GCHQ, Selex, Oxford Instruments, and Kelvin Nanotechnology.

Reference: PN 62-15

Contact Details

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Name: EPSRC Press Office
Telephone: 01793 444404