Key role for IMPP partners in new Quantum Technology Hubs
The new £120 million national network of four Quantum Technology Hubs has been unveiled recently by Greg Clark, Minister of State for Universities, Science and Cities. The IMPP partners are involved in all four Hubs and lead the Quantum Sensing Hub, based in Glasgow. In detail:
• Quantum Sensing/Imaging Hub: The University of Glasgow-led hub involves also the IMPP partners Universities of Edinburgh and Strathclyde, and Heriot-Watt University.
• Quantum Sensing and Metrology Hub: The IMPP partners University of Glasgow and University of Strathclyde participate in the University of Birmingham-led hub.
• Quantum Computing/Simulation Hub: University of Oxford leads this hub. It collaborates with IMPP partners University of Edinburgh and Strathclyde.
• Quantum Communications Hub: IMPP partners University of Edinburgh and Strathclyde participate in this University of York-led hub.
The hubs were selected after a competitive peer reviewed process and will explore the properties of quantum mechanics and how they can be harnessed for use in technology.
The Quantum Enhanced Imaging Hub, led by Professor Miles Padgett from University of Glasgow, 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 new Quantum Imaging Hub will receive £29m in funding over the next five years from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
The University of Glasgow-led hub will partner with IMPP academics from the universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Heriot-Watt University, with colleagues from the universities of Bristol and Oxford, and more than 30 industry partners.
The hub’s lead academic is Professor Miles Padgett of the University of Glasgow. Professor Padgett said: “The hub’s vision is to work in partnership with industry to translate our world-leading discovery science into revolutionary imaging systems that will benefit the UK economy across commercial, scientific and security sectors.”
The Quantum Imaging Hub will be coordinated from a new quantum technologies facility to be built at the University of Glasgow.
Professor Steve Beaumont, Director of The Quantum Imaging Hub, said: “We’re delighted to have received this support from EPSRC and are thrilled to be partnering with 37 industry collaborators. The Hub also includes a £4m partnership fund to support industry-led projects and a Scottish Funding Council investment of £3m to create innovation space where companies can work alongside university researchers to develop industry prototypes.”
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Angela Constance said: “Scotland has a long and exciting history of scientific discovery and I am very pleased to see Glasgow – alongside Edinburgh, Heriot Watt and Strathclyde among others – right at the heart of this hub which could transform how we see the world. The funding contribution from the SFC demonstrates our commitment to supporting research excellence and underlines our worldwide reputation for research and innovation.”
Greg Clark, Minister of State for Universities, Science and Cities, announced the Hubs during a visit to the University of Birmingham. He said: “This exciting new Quantum Hubs network will push the boundaries of knowledge and exploit new technologies, to the benefit of healthcare, communications and security."
“This investment in Quantum technologies has the potential to bring game-changing advantages to future timing, sensing and navigation capabilities that could support multi-billion pound markets in the UK and globally."
Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive said: “These new Hubs will build on our previous investments in quantum science. They will draw together scientists, engineers and technologists from across the UK who will explore how we can exploit the intriguing properties of the quantum realm. The area offers great promise, and the Hubs will keep the UK at the leading edge of this exciting field.”
The UK National Quantum Technologies Programme 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.
One University of Glasgow-led project uses cheap, simple single-pixel sensors to build sophisticated ultraviolet or infrared video images much more affordably and conveniently than has been possible before. The sensors could be used in applications such as visualising gas leaks, seeing clearly through smoke, or looking under skin for tumours.
A second project, also led by the University of Glasgow, will use springs ten times thinner than a human hair to image minute changes in gravity fields. The work will enable a range of applications, including finding landmines, tracking magma moving under volcanoes and monitoring oil reserves to maximise extraction.
A new camera development led by Heriot-Watt University, uses highly advanced photon-timing techniques to recognise objects around corners, as well as images through walls or opaque biological tissue.