Archive for Quantum Technology

Quantum Technology and the Frontier of Computing

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on March 26, 2015 by telescoper

Here’s a short video I just found featuring our own Winfried Hensinger, Professor of Quantum Technologies at the University of Sussex.

It’s part of a pilot documentary that explores the connection between science fiction and science reality. Here is the official blurb:

“The science fiction genre has a history of playing with our imagination; inventing “impossible” technologies and concepts such as time travel and teleportation. The “spooky” discoveries that quantum physicists have recently made are challenging the very “impossibility” of sci-fi. This documentary will explore the ways in which sci-fi has catalysed the imagination of scientists who are pioneering these discoveries.

The theme will explore the causal link between science and science fiction, using the inner workings of the quantum computer that Dr Winfried Hensinger is currently developing as a case study. Dr Hensinger, the head of the Sussex Ion Quantum Technology research group, was inspired early on by the well known 60s science fiction television show Star Trek. Having led multiple breakthroughs in the field of Quantum Computing research, he speaks to the importance of not losing our imagination, citing his childhood desire to be the science officer on Star Trek’s Enterprise as the prime motivator of going into the scientific field. Exploring the relationship between the human beings developing this technology and the non-human genre of science fiction, we will demonstrate that the boundaries between imagination and reality are blurrier than conventionally thought.”

I’ll take the opportunity presented by this video to remind you that the University of Sussex is the only university in the UK to offer an MSc course in Quantum Technologies, and this year there are special bursaries that make this an extremely attractive  option for students seeking to extend their studies into this burgeoning new area. We’ve already seen a big surge in applications for this course this course so if you’re thinking of applying don’t wait too long or it might fill up!

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Quantum Technologies at Sussex

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on November 26, 2014 by telescoper

Some good news arrived today. We had been hoping to hear it since September but it finally appeared today. It involves several physicists from the Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) Group of the Department of Physics & Astronomy in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences here at the University of Sussex who bid to participate in a major investment (of ~£270M) in quantum technology overseen by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Today we learned that Sussex physicists were successful in their applications and in fact will participate in two of the four new Quantum Technology “hubs” now being set up. One of the hubs is led by the University of Oxford and the other by the University of Birmingham. We will be starting work on these projects on 1st December 2014 (i.e. next Monday) and the initial funding is for five years. Congratulations to all those involved, not just at Sussex but also in those other institutions participating in the new programme.

For a relatively small Department this is an outstanding achievement for Sussex, and the funding gained will help us enormously with our strategy of expanding laboratory-based experiment physics on the University of Sussex campus. Since I arrived here last year it has been a priority for the School to increase and diversify its research portfolio, both to enhance the range and quality of our research itself and to allow us to teach a wider range of specialist topics at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. This particular subject is also one in which we hope to work closely with local comanies, as quantum technology is likely to be a key area for growth over the next few years.

I’m very excited by all this, because it represents a successful first step towards the ambitious goals the Department has set and it opens up a pathway for further exciting developments I hope to be able to post about very soon.

To celebrate, here’s a gratuitous picture of a laser experiment:

laser

You can find more information about the Quantum Technology hubs altogether here.

The text of the official University of Sussex  press release follows:

Sussex scientists have been awarded £5.5 million to develop devices that could radically change how we measure time, navigate our world and solve seemingly impossible mathematical equations.

The grants, received by members of the University’s Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (AMO) research group, represent part of a £270 million UK government investment announced today (26 November) to convert quantum physics research into commercial products.

Quantum technology is the applied field of quantum theory. It includes such phenomena as “quantum entanglement”, the idea that objects are not independent if they have interacted with each other or come into being through the same process, and that changing one will also change the other, no matter how far apart they are.

Members of the AMO group have become part of two major national quantum centres: the UK Quantum Technology Hub on Networked Quantum Information Technologies and the UK Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology. These centres bring together universities and industry to develop and construct quantum technologies.

The award from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) will help to fund several Sussex research projects:

  • Dr Jacob Dunningham will be developing a theory to understand how remote objects can be detected with exquisite precision by making use of a networks of sensors linked by quantum entanglement.
  • Dr Winfried Hensinger, as part of one hub, will develop the quantum processor microchip architecture and a new technique of quantum processing using microwave radiation to enable the construction of a large-scale “super-fast” quantum computer. As part of the other hub, he will develop powerful portable sensors able to detect magnetic fields with unprecedented accuracy utilizing a new generation of microchips capable of holding arrays of individual charged atoms.
  • Dr Alessia Pasquazi will develop miniature, ultra-fast, photonic sources of light that form the heart of a new generation of quantum sensors and navigation devices.
  • Dr Marco Peccianti will shrink to the size of a shoe box an “optical frequency comb”, a highly accurate clock currently found only in state-of-the-art laboratories.
  • Prof Barry Garraway will design new rotation sensors for compact navigation devices using atom-chip technology.
  • Dr Matthias Keller will develop a network connecting several quantum processors through the exchange of single photons, resulting in a new version of the internet, the so-called ‘quantum internet’.

In response to the funding news, Professor Peter Coles, Head of the School of Mathematics and Physical Sciences, said: “Quantum sensors offer amazing possibilities for smaller and lighter devices with extraordinary precision. As a consequence, quantum theory promises revolutionary technological applications in computing, measurement, navigation, and security.”

Professor Michael Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, said: “This new research programme will consolidate the reputation of the University of Sussex as one of the world-leading centres for the development of ground-breaking quantum technologies.”

The research will be supplemented by a significant Sussex investment and will make use of the world-leading multi-million pound quantum technology laboratories located at the University.

Professor Coles added: “Our pioneering ‘MSc in Frontiers of Quantum Technology’ program along with numerous PhD positions will provide training for a new generation of researchers and developers to be employed in the emerging quantum technology sector.”

Greg Clark, Minister of State for Universities, Science and Cities, 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.

“Today’s announcement is another example of the government’s recognition of the UK’s science base and its critical contribution to our sustained economic growth”.

Quantum Technology – a Sussex Strength

Posted in Finance, Politics, Science Politics, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on December 9, 2013 by telescoper

Amid all the doom and gloom in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement delivered last week there’s a ray of sunshine for research in Physics in the form of an injection of around £270 million in Quantum Technology. According to the Financial Times,

The money will support a national network of five research centres, covering quantum computing, secure communications, sensors, measurement and simulation.

Details of the scheme are yet to be released, but it seems the network will consist of “regional centres” although how evenly it will be spread across the regions remains to be seen. How many will be in the Midlands, for example?

We’re very happy here with this announcement here in the School of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Sussex as we have a well-established and expanding major research activity in Quantum Technology and an MSc Course called Frontiers of Quantum Technology. Moreover, as members of the South East Physics Network (SEPNet) we seem to be in a good position to be for funds as a truly regional centre. Assuming, that is, that the scheme hasn’t already been divvied up behind closed doors before it was even announced!

The investment announced by the government mirrors a growing realization of the potential for economic exploitation of, e.g., quantum computing which is bound to lead to a new range of career opportunities for budding physics graduates.

I’d welcome any comments from people who know any more information about the details of the new investment, as I’m too lazy to search for it myself…

Punch and Judy meet Quantum Technology

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , on June 28, 2013 by telescoper

It’s an Open Day here on campus, and there’s quite a crowd of potential students and parents gathering in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences here at the University of Sussex to find out a bit more about the School in advance of making decisions about where to apply next year.

I noticed the other day that quite a few of these have appeared on campus over the last few days:

IMG-20130627-00139

Apparently they’re information points manned by various helpers to help visitors find their way around the place. When I first saw this one, I thought it was a Punch and Judy box, so assumed that there was some sort of conference of Punch and Judy performers going on. That wouldn’t be inappropriate for a University campus, actually, because the traditional name for a Punch & Judy puppeteer is a “Professor”. Not a lot of people know that.

Anyway, none of that is really relevant to what I wanted to post today. I stumbled across this video featuring Winfried Hensinger (one of my colleagues from the Department of Physics & Astronomy within the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences). I thought it would be fun to share it here, just to give an idea of some of the work that’s going on here outside my own speciality of astrophysics. I hope this will complement the real open day with a mini virtual open day on the blog.

Winfried is Reader in Quantum, Atomic and Optical Physics at the University of Sussex and he works in the group we generally call “AMO” (Atomic, Molecular and Optical). In this TEDX lecture he talks about the future of quantum computers and the role the team he is part of, at Sussex University, plays as they develop large scale quantum computers using ions cooled to extremely low temperatures using lasers. Enjoy!