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Frontier research


Our Quantum Technology funding portfolio is one of the largest in Scotland with a 100-strong research community and 400 outputs cited in the top 10% in the world.

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Many of today's technologies use quantum physics in a wide range of devices from computers to household appliances, from GPS to atomic clocks and lasers. Quantum mechanics has spurred the Information Age. The second 'quantum revolution' will take full advantage of quantum physics' most remarkable properties yet - quantum optics is central to this revolution.

1000 m2 of labs with advanced equipment ranging from laser-based holographic mask fabrication, flip-chip integration of quantum components, to cryogenically cooled, high efficiency superconducting detector arrays. World-class research results in real-world application.

Research Bites

Measuring the smallest magnetic fields

What's the smallest magnetic field sensor you can make?


Dr Bonato: What's the smallest magnetic field sensor you can make? Ideally, you would use a single elementary particle, such as an electron.

Well, it turns out this isn't science fiction but something that we can actually do in the lab! In the Quantum Photonics Lab at Heriot-Watt University, we can detect the magnetic properties of single electrons and single atomic nuclei. This allows us to use them as tiny compasses to measure magnetic fields with very high spatial resolution, down to one millionth of a millimetre.

Why do we want to do this?

Such tiny magnetic sensors can be very helpful in nanotechnology: for example, you could use them to determine the structure of single biological molecules, or measure currents in small electronic devices meaning that we can visualise and examine the most specific of elements to an accuracy we never truly thought possible.

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