Current Projects

  • Miniature Optical Lattice Clock within UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Metrology, [Link]

This project focuses on making optical clocks portable for applications outside the laboratory. A distributed system of highly-accurate timekeeping systems can be used for relativistic geodesy and to enhance GNSS just to name few. Our key goal is portability, and one specification is that the entire frequency reference system should be portable in the boot of a car (although operation in transit is not yet required). With this in mind, the required parameters for our clock, are aligned with the requirements of current optical Sr lattice clocks and are thus relevant to developments in metrology institutions and laboratories around the world.

​Optical clocks are amazingly stable frequency standards, which would be off by only one second over the age of the universe. Bringing those clocks from the laboratory into a robust and compact form will have a large impact on telecommunication (e.g. network synchronization, traffic bandwidth, GPS free navigation), geology (e.g. underground exploration, monitoring of water tables or ice sheets), astronomy (e.g. low-frequency gravitational wave detection, radio telescope synchronization), and other fields. Likewise, techniques developed for robust clocks will improve laboratory clocks, potentially leading to physics beyond the standard model.
To make this a reality,  the Quantum Flagship iqClock consortium, assembling leading experts from academia, strong industry partners, and relevant end users come together. The consortium will seize on recent developments in clock concepts and technology to start-up a clock development pipeline along the TRL scale. The consortium represents a nucleus for a European optical clock ecosystem, which will continuously deliver competitive products and foster the development of clock applications. Our first product prototype will be a field-ready strontium optical clock, which we will benchmark in real use cases, such as network synchronization (TRL 6). This clock will be based on a modular concept, already with the next-generation clocks in mind, which our academic partners will realize (TRL 3-4). By their operation principle, these optical clocks are more robust than the current ones and have come into reach by recent breakthroughs. The consortium will leverage the foundational work by the consortia QuantERA Q-Clocks and JRP f17 USOQS, which have joined partners within the consortium, and translate their work into a higher TRL. To increase our impact and to broaden our industry base, the consortium will reach out to all stakeholders, train the next generation of quantum engineers, educate and listen to end users, and enrich the exchange of scientific ideas.

  • SOC-2; Space Optical Clock – II [Link]

​Measuring time is a human activity undertaken since the earliest times; today we use atomic clocks and strive for always higher precision levels to be achieved with new quantum technologies, in particular optical ones. The use of atomic clocks in space is a new challenge, which the SOC2 project takes on by developing compact and reliable designs.

  • Long Range Interaction project

​We aim to experimentally explore the long range dipolar interaction of ultracold Sr atoms trapped in the deep optical lattice in a Mott insulator state. The interaction is based on the resonant exchange of virtual photons between 3P0 and 3D1 which has the wavelength λ=2.6 µm. The combination of small lattice spacing (a=206.4 nm) and a long wavelength transition makes it feasible in principle. This novel mechanism was first proposed in 2013 by our group[1]. In order to attest the dipolar interaction in the experiment, the Sr atoms are initially trapped in the MOT, and then transferred to an optical dipole trap for preparing dense ultracold Sr samples. The samples will be loaded in the 3D optical lattice and finally in a Mott insulator. Once the samples are finished, the detection of long range interaction can be operated by illuminating the samples with 2.6 µm laser. Till now, we have obtained higher atom number in the MOT with 2.6 µm transition instead of 679 nm. The temperature of red MOT has reached less than 5 µK. The magnetic trap of 3P2 has been characterized with a lifetime of 1.1 s. In the meantime, we have measured the Landé g factor of 3D1 by the resolved Zeeman spectroscopy which has a good agreement with the theoretically calculated number. 

  • SOLACE: Strontium Optical Lattice Clock 

The key objective of this project is to drive innovation in Quantum Technologies, in particular in the area of cold atom quantum sensors, to stimulate economic growth and benefit the society. Despite the impressive laboratory demonstrations and technology developments already undertaken, the deployment of cold atom quantum technology is still hindered by relatively low technology readiness levels, in particular with regards to space applications. In addition, a breakthrough of current commercial cold atom technology is delayed by high cost and a limited existing market for this disruptive technology. There is a clear need for innovation of robust and low-cost systems for cold atom quantum sensors in addition to a huge potential for market development by demonstration of applications. This is exactly what is addressed by this project.

  • Compact optics for high performance portable atomic timing and quantum sensors

Quantum technologies hold enormous potential to bring about a step-change improvement in a large number of hugely impactful end user applications, ranging from satellite-free navigation, ultra-high precision timing for financial trades and exceptionally-precise gravetometers for sub-surface detection. If the technology which underpins QT techniques could be sufficiently simplified and miniaturised, it will eventually enter the mass consumer market. Here, ultra-secure communications, positioning, etc. will be strong commercial drivers. Most of the physical principles which underpin quantum processes have now been established: the fantastic potential of this technology is no longer a promise; it is a demonstrated fact. However, such devices are still almost exclusively limited to the research laboratory due to the excessive size, cost and complexity of the subsystems upon which they depend. The long-term goal of this project is to effect order-of-magnitude reduction in the size, and an order of magnitude reduction in cost and power requirements, of one of the key technologies upon which Quantum Tech processes critically depend - atom trap, optics, and lasers.

  • MoSaiQC: Modular Systems for Advanced Integrated Quantum Clocks [Link]

​The unprecedented control over cold atoms has resulted in an extremely precise measurement of time and frequencies. In our lab, we work on enabling concepts through to asking very fundamental questions at the cutting edge of science.  We have PhD positions within the EU-ITN-MoSaiQC to train a cohort of young scientists at the frontiers of physics.  The PhDs will work on cutting edge projects developing novel concepts relevant to metrology and fundamental science. They will have access to our state-of-the-art labs and will also benefit from the European Collaborations as well as from our direct link to the UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Metrology

Completed Projects 

  • FACT – Future Atomic Clock Technologies, EU Marie Curie ITN network with 14 partners. [Link]

  • QTEA – Quantum Sensor Technologies and Applications, EU ITN Network. [Link]

  • GaNAMP [Link]

  • SLATE: Strontium Lattice for Commercial Optical Clocks [Link]

  • DPSS Laser stabilised at 813nm for Sr Clock Application  [Link]

  • QSense [Link]