U.K. bids for a lead in quantum technologies

first_imgThe United Kingdom announced today the creation of a £120 million network of four “quantum technology hubs”—involving 17 universities and 132 companies—to create new, commercially viable technologies based on quantum mechanics. Each of the hubs, led by the universities of Birmingham, Glasgow, Oxford, and York, will focus on different applications of quantum technology. “This exciting new Quantum Hubs network will push the boundaries of knowledge and exploit new technologies, to the benefit of health care, communications, and security,” said Greg Clark, minister for universities, science, and cities, at an event at the University of Birmingham today.Although U.K. research has had a nominally flat budget over the past few years, the government has launched a few new initiatives, among them a 5-year, £270 million National Quantum Technologies Programme, announced last year. Under this program, which includes £190 million in new money, the government called for outline proposals for quantum hubs. In July, these were narrowed down to a short list of eight, which were then peer-reviewed.“We’re really pleased now to get the money and get started,” says one of the winners, Tim Spiller of the University of York, who heads the new hub focusing on quantum communications. The hub’s £24 million in funding will be spent not on bricks-and-mortar but to equip and pay for research at universities and in industry. The York-centered hub involves seven other universities and nine companies, including Toshiba and British Telecom, as well as the National Physical Laboratory. Of the four, “we’re a relatively compact and tightly focused hub,” Spiller says.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The often bizarre properties of quantum mechanical systems have been studied extensively in the lab for decades, but few products have resulted. Now, countries other than the United Kingdom are investing heavily in turning lab results into marketable systems. “The U.K. has a history of not doing that well,” Spiller says. “We are going to do something about it.” He mentions a recent demonstration by Hewlett-Packard’s laboratories in Bristol, U.K., of a quantum communications system to communicate securely over a distance of a meter or two, which could be used to make transactions from a smart phone to an ATM. One of the York hub’s 5-year goals, he says, is to “take work like that and turn it into something that would be usable.” The hub led by the University of Glasgow will develop quantum sensing and imaging, while the University of Oxford will concentrate on quantum computing and simulation. The University of Birmingham hub focuses on quantum sensing and metrology. It will use supercooled atoms as ultraprecise sensors to measure gravity, rotation, magnetic field, time, frequency, and other variables. Birmingham’s Kai Bongs, who will lead the effort, envisions a “U.K. quantum valley where industry can flourish and develop an appropriate ecosystem.”Bongs and his partners hope to demonstrate devices such as gravity sensors that can detect underground pipes and cables accurately and miniature atomic clocks to monitor broadband connections and financial transactions, which require precise timing. “Companies are very hungry for atom devices,” Bongs says. “We might see products coming out in the 5 years.”last_img

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