ColdQuanta UK, the Oxford-based quantum atomics company, has been awarded £2.8 million in Innovate UK grants. The funding will enable ColdQuanta to lead a consortium of companies across the UK to develop three projects, including work on a new, ground-breaking quantum positioning system (QPS) or gyroscope.
ColdQuanta UK has its base at the Oxford Centre for Innovation (OCfI) in the centre of the city. OCfI is run by Advanced Oxford member, The Oxford Trust.
Based on thirteen years’ R&D, ColdQuanta’s USP is its Quantum Core™ Technology which uses lasers to cool atoms down to close to absolute zero. At one ten billionth of a degree above absolute zero, or -273.15 C, the Quantum Core creates a rare state of matter or Bose-Einstein condensates. Sometimes called the fifth state of matter, these gaseous atom clouds stop behaving like individual atoms and start to behave like a collective or wave. Control of these ultra-cold atoms, individually or as a cloud, can enable everything from atomic timekeeping to quantum logic. The resulting systems can be deployed on Earth or in space.
ColdQuanta UK is currently working on the development of a quantum positioning system (QPS), particularly a gyroscope that will allow precise navigation by very accurately measuring rotation. The ColdQuanta QPS will help overcome vulnerabilities associated with current GPS (or GNSS) systems. It has the commercial potential for automated shipping as well as use in defence systems, aircraft and trains, and one day could be miniaturised for use in cars and even mobile phones.
Funding from InnovateUK’s National Quantum Technologies Programme
The projects being developed by ColdQuanta are partially funded by the UK government, whose investment through the National Quantum Technologies Programme has totalled more than £1 billion since its inception in 2014. The funding is being used to accelerate the translation of quantum technologies into the marketplace and secure the UK’s status as a world-leader in quantum science and technologies.
Dr Tim Ballance, lead scientist at ColdQuanta UK, said: “The Innovate UK funding allows us to provide cold atom quantum technology for three separate projects in the UK: to lead the development of a quantum gyroscope that will be demonstrated in flight; to develop technology that will enable continuous operation of quantum sensors; and to work with partners on an updated system to improve the integration of lasers into quantum atomic systems. This funding demonstrates how ColdQuanta’s cold atom technology can be the basis of a broad range of new quantum applications. Our team is excited to have been chosen for these projects, all of which will advance the commercialisation of our cold atom quantum technologies.”
ColdQuanta was spun out of the University of Colorado, Boulder, by Professor Dana Anderson, and Rainer Kunz. Dana worked with Noble Prize-winning physicists Cornell, Weiman as well as ColdQuanta co-founder Theodor Hänsch on cold atom technology but saw it had wide potential and started ColdQuanta in 2007. The Oxford arm was started in 2015 and Dr Tim Ballance was recruited as lead scientist. To complete the three-year Innovate UK project, they are currently a team of five and plan to expand to 12 people within the next 12 months.
Image – Dr Tim Ballance, lead scientist at ColdQuanta UK – courtesy of The Oxford Trust