Leading lights of Scottish science shine at quantum technology launch event

Published: 24 February 2015

Scotland’s leading quantum technology research centre will be officially opened with a launch event at Glasgow Science Centre.

Scotland’s leading quantum technology research centre will be officially opened with a launch event at Glasgow Science Centre today (Tuesday 24 February).

QuantIC, the Quantum Imaging Centre, brings together experts from the Universities of Glasgow, Bristol, Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt, Oxford and Strathclyde to commercialise cameras built with newly-developed quantum technology.

More than 30 industry partners will help QuantIC’s imaging systems bring new benefits to the UK economy.

Around 100 visitors from academic, industry and funding councils will have the opportunity to learn more about QuantIC’s potential and hear from speakers from organisations including the Scottish Funding Council, BAE Systems and M Squared Lasers.

Technology demonstrators already developed by the partnership will be on display, including a camera which uses a cheap single-pixel sensor to create video images beyond the spectrum of visible light.  The camera can be tuned to make it sensitive to infrared or ultraviolet light, making it capable of visualising gas leaks, seeing clearly through smoke, or looking under skin for tumors.

The project, developed at the University of Glasgow in close collaboration with Glasgow-based M Squared Lasers, has the potential to create affordable handheld video cameras capable of seeing areas of the spectrum only previously visible with large and expensive devices.

Also on display will be a new camera, developed by researchers at Heriot-Watt University, which uses highly advanced photon-timing techniques to see through layers of organic tissue, and a detector which uses springs ten times thinner than a human hair to image minute changes in gravity fields.

Professor Steve Beaumont, director of QuantIC, said: “We are proud and pleased to be officially opening QuantIC at the Glasgow Science Centre today and making contact with representatives of industries with whom we may partner in the future.

“The establishment of the centre at the University of Glasgow is an acknowledgement of the tremendous knowledge base we have in Scotland, including the world-leading James Watt Nanofabrication Centre, which will help create prototypes of new devices. 

“We’ve committed £4m of our funding to working with our industry partners to ensure these exciting new technologies can reach consumers and contribute to the economy.”

QuantIC is one of four new Quantum Technology Hubs which are sharing in £270m in funding from the UK Government over the next five years, and is the only hub to be based in Scotland. The centre will be funded by a £27m award from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The Scottish Funding Council has also invested £3m to create a new innovation space at the University of Glasgow. Companies will use the space to work closely with university researchers to develop prototypes of new technologies before taking them to market.

QuantIC has already won the backing of the Scottish Government. Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP said: “QuantIC is exactly the type of collaboration between academia and industry which confirms Scotland’s place as a world leader in scientific innovation. I’m extremely pleased to see the centre officially opened today and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the first products reach consumers in the future.”

Professor Miles Padgett, QuantIC’s principal investigator and technical co-ordinator, said: “QuantIC is a tremendously exciting opportunity for the University of Glasgow and its partners, with real potential to create transformative new technologies.

“Our relationship with M Squared Lasers, which has supported the development of our single-pixel video imaging system, is an excellent example of the kind of industry collaboration QuantIC will create. M Squared are one of Scotland’s most innovative SMEs and we’re pleased to have them on board at QuantIC’s launch.”

Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), said: “QuantIC, launched today, shows how the strengths and expertise of our universities and industrial partners can be successfully linked as a network to bring about new, world-leading science and technologies. EPSRC is working with all four of the Quantum Technologies Hubs involved in the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme to ensure the country makes the most of its assets and talents.”  

For more information contact Ross Barker in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3535 or email ross.barker@glasgow.ac.uk

Notes to Editors 

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. www.epsrc.ac.uk 

The UK National Quantum Technologies Programme aims to ensure the successful transition of quantum technologies from laboratory to industry. The programme is delivered by EPSRC, Innovate UK, BIS, NPL, GCHQ and DSTL.

First published: 24 February 2015

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