4 May 2011

Quantop receives large American grant

Quantum technology is no longer science fiction – it is reality. With a grant of 9 million kroner to the Center for Quantum Optics at the Niels Bohr Institute from the United States Department of Defence for the development of sensors for measuring miniscule forces and extremely weak magnetic fields, quantum physics has stepped into the real world.

Eugene Polzik"We are known as experts in being able to perform measurements by manipulating quantum states and atomic entanglement. That is the reason why we have received this research grant”, explains professor Eugene Polzik, who leads the research center for quantum optics, Quantop at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.

Extremely high sensitivity

Eugene Polzik explains that the center has developed sensors of about 2 cm for measuring small magnetic fields using quantum optics, but it would very interesting to be able to make them even smaller so that you can get closer to the subject and measure even smaller magnetic fields. So they have to develop an entirely new technology and for that they will use quantum optical techniques. “We will use atoms to measure a magnetic field and thus achieve an extremely high sensitivity”, explains Eugene Polzik.

Sensors to measure electrical signals must also be developed. At normal room temperature all measurements have a so-called ‘noise’ or inaccuracies. Here they will make the measurement at absolute zero, which is minus 273 degrees C. This extreme cooling takes place when squesed and entangled laser light comes into contact with an electric circuit. The research is to develop a method for connecting the light with the electronics.

The American Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has given a total of 12 million kroner to the project, which partly goes to the US National Institute for Standards and Technology and partly to the Center for Quantum Optics, Quantop at the Niels Bohr Institute, which will receive 9 million kroner of a period of 5½ years. The center has 20 researchers and the new grant will mean two new positions for a PhD and a postoc.