Quantum experts from Heriot-Watt University are leading a project with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) (USA), California Institute of Technology (Caltech) (USA) - highlighting ways in which Single-photon detection is rapidly emerging as a critical capability for a variety of quantum technologies and low-light sensing applications.
Heriot-Watt University researchers will work with US collaborators to advance quantum technologies capable of measuring single light particles. These have a wide range of applications, including medical imaging, detecting objects behind barriers and satellite communication networks.
Backed by £1.3million of EPSRC funding, the research is part of UK-led international collaborations bringing together the world’s leading research groups to develop cutting-edge research and technologies that will have major impact on society
The 12 projects, announced today, Monday, 27th December, are funded by a £17 million investment from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), with partners providing cash and in-kind contributions.
Heriot-Watt lead investigator on the project, Professor Gerald Buller said: “The impact of this project will be found in both advancing the emerging applications of quantum technology, as well as in more “blue-sky” quantum research. Accessing the state-of-the-art detect single-photon detectors from this Centre-to-Centre project will enable a range of advances in quantum technologies such as quantum communications and quantum-enhanced imaging.”
The project will link three centres of excellence in quantum photonics to deploy the state-of-the-art optical detectors and detector arrays developed by the JPL and Caltech in areas of quantum technology being pioneered at Heriot-Watt. These include quantum communications - including satellite to ground links - and real-time 3D imaging at the single-photon level. The project will also use these state-of-the-art detectors to investigate the limits of quantum entanglement, a fundamental property of quantum mechanics that forms the backbone of modern quantum technologies. In particular, the project will study the entanglement of structured light in space and time and apply it to emerging next-generation quantum applications in imaging and communications.
Science Minister George Freeman said: “From improving cancer treatment and generating clean growth to designing the communication networks of tomorrow, UK science, technology and innovation is developing pioneering solutions to the some of the world’s greatest challenges.
“These 12 international projects will harness the expertise of the UK’s world-leading researchers and global collaborators, helping us accelerate our path to an innovation nation and underline our position as a science superpower.”
Each brings together some of the world’s leading research groups, in the UK and internationally, to catalyse cutting-edge research and develop engineering and technological applications.
EPSRC Executive Chair Professor Dame Lynn Gladden said: “From better, cheaper medicines to powerful quantum computers and next-generation communications networks, these new technologies have the potential to transform the way we live.
“By bringing together world-leading researchers to deliver ground-breaking science and engineering solutions, these projects will generate impact that will be felt across all of society.”