UK to invest £6m in quantum computing

UK Research and Innovation has awarded £6 million ($7.3 million) in grants to 17 projects to tackle basic research questions with quantum technology.

The Quantum Technologies for Fundamental Physics program, funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, is designed to better understand the universe through quantum computing, imaging, sensing and simulations.

“The new grants continue to support the UK research community in exploring the diversity of applications of quantum technology for basic science, from mass studies of neutrinos to investigations of violations of the fundamental symmetries of nature,” said Professor Grahame Blair, Executive Director of Programs at STFC.

Vera Guarrera from the University of Birmingham, co-investigator for one of the projects, said the grant would allow them to take a fundamental step towards achieving an atomic clock based on highly charged californium ions.

“This grant will allow us to make a very cold crystal of laser-cooled calcium ions, where we will implant a highly charged ion of an element called californium. The crystal will be used to decrease the temperature of the highly charged ion to near absolute zero, a process known as sympathetic cooling. […] Such a unique clock should realize the world’s most sensitive detector of ultralight dark matter,” she said.

One of the projects, Quantum Sensing for Antimatter Gravity (QSAG,) seeks to test whether antimatter and matter have the same gravitational interactions.

“This is achieved by measuring the effects of gravity on positronium, a unique system consisting of an electron (matter) bonded to a positron (antimatter) in a hydrogen-like atom. QSAG will use (anti)matter interferometry using highly excited (Rydberg) states of positronium to measure the effects of the Earth’s gravity field and thus make the first direct measurement of the gravity of antimatter.

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Sherry J. Basler