(BBCNews) Quantum sensing developed by Professor Bongs’ Birmingham team is a technology that could transform our world. A multi-sensor approach including QT-sensors will reduce risks from urban excavations by making the ground invisible, so that we can see through the surface of our towns and cities. Future potential applications go well beyond locating pipes and cables, and include lidar for autonomous vehicles and MRI [magnetic resonance imaging].
Gravity Pioneer is a project underway to simplify how engineers and surveyors plan and execute major construction projects. Currently, the only way to find out what is underneath the ground is often to carry out exploratory digging, which is both time-consuming and expensive. “Some have said that what lies below one metre under the streets of London is less well-known than Antarctica,” says Professor Bongs.
GG-TOP Birmingham Civil engineers and physicists began collaborating in 2010 to bring a new capability to underground sensing through exploitation of quantum technology (QT). Using a technique called atom interferometry, cold atoms are used as ideal test-masses to create a gravity sensor which can measure a gravity gradient rather than an absolute value. This suppresses several noise sources and creates a sensor useful in everyday applications. This collaboration has grown and become a key aspect of the UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Metrology, which aims to bring a range of quantum sensor devices out of the laboratory and into the real-world.