Photonic Quantum-Enhanced Sensors

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Physics

Abstract

Sensors permeate our society, measurement underpins quantitative action and standardized accurate measurements are a foundation of all commerce. The ability to measure parameters and sense phenomena with increasing precision has always led to dramatic advances in science and in technology - for example X-ray imaging, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), interferometry and the scanning-tunneling microscope. Our rapidly growing understanding of how to engineer and control quantum systems vastly expands the limits of measurement and of sensing, opening up opportunities in radically alternative methods to the current state of the art in sensing. Through the developments proposed in this Fellowship, I aim to deliver sensors enhanced by the harnessing of unique quantum mechanical phenomena and principles inspired by insights into quantum physics to develop a series of prototypes with end-users. I plan to provide alternative approaches to the state of the art, to potentially reduce overall cost and dramatically increase capability, to reach new limits of precision measurement and to develop this technology for commercialization.

Light is an excellent probe for sensing and measurement. Unique wavelength dependent absorption, and reemission of photons by atoms enable the properties of matter to be measured and the identification of constituent components. Interferometers provide ultra-sensitive measurement of optical path length changes on the nanometer-scale, translating to physical changes in distance, material expansion or sample density for example. However, for any canonical optical sensor, quantum mechanics predicts a fundamental limit of how much noise in such experiment can be suppressed - this is the so-called shot noise and is routinely observed as a noise floor when using a laser, the canonical "clean" source of radiation.

By harnessing the quantum properties of light, it is possible reach precision beyond shot noise, enabling a new paradigm of precision sensors to be realized. Such quantum-enhanced sensors can use less light in the optical probe to gain the same level of precision in a conventional optical sensor. This enables, for example: the reduction of detrimental absorption in biological samples that can alter sample properties or damage it; the resolution of weak signals in trace gas detection; reduction of photon pressure in interferometry that can alter the measurement outcome; increase in precision when a limit of optical laser input is reached. Quantum-enhanced techniques are being used by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) scientific collaboration to reach sub-shot noise precision interferometry of gravitational wave detection in kilometer-scale Michelson interferometers (GEO600). However, there is otherwise a distinct lack of practical devices that prove the potential of quantum-enhanced sensing as a disruptive technology for healthcare, precision manufacture, national security and commerce.

For quantum-enhanced sensors to become small-scale, portable and therefore practical for an increased range of applications outside of the specialized quantum optics laboratory, it is clear that there is an urgent need to engineer an integrated optics platform, tailored to the needs of quantum-enhanced sensing. Requirements include robustness, miniaturization inherent phase stability and greater efficiency. Lithographic fabrication of much of the platform offers repeatable and affordable manufacture. My Fellowship proposal aims to bring together revolutionary quantum-enhanced sensing capabilities and photonic chip scale architectures. This will enable capabilities beyond the limits of classical physics for: absorbance spectroscopy, lab-on-chip interferometry and process tomography (revealing an unknown quantum process with fewer measurements and fewer probe photons).

Planned Impact

Historically, advances in precision sensing and measurement have had significant societal impact through commerce, national security, advances in healthcare and precision interferometry for manufacture.

This ambitious Fellowship offers a new paradigm in disruptive sensing and measurement technologies. The fundamental limits of measurement will be expanded, and alternative approaches to canonical sensors will be realized to greatly enhance capability, to reduce overall cost and simplify operation. This Fellowship is designed to have impact further than academic research, both during the Fellowship lifetime and beyond; such as:

- Training skilled technical and research personnel in the engineering and application of practical quantum technology will have far reaching benefits for the UK knowledge economy for the next 30 years. This will occur through the direct training of the PDRAs and PhD studentships working on this project, the researchers of my collaborators and project partners. The results of this Fellowship will motivate future generations of science and engineering researchers.

- Societal impact through increased security: The "Blue lights" services will likely find use of increased sensing precision of deployable, practical systems - I will work with partner DSTL (the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory) to optimse impact in this area by exploring application of sub shot noise spectroscopy for trace chemical detection. DSTL's stated purpose is "to maximise the impact of science and technology for the defence and security of the UK."
(https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/defence-science-and-technology-laboratory/about)

- The UK economy, high tech business and industry: Increased precision of measurement and sensing impacts on increasingly precise methods for micro- and nano-fabrication and for future drug discovery in the pharmaceuticals industry. For instance, the current limitations experienced by the pharmaceuticals industry include degradation of samples by regular measurement and the obscuring of weak signals due to shot noise. Greater precision and the ability to recover and reuse high value assays will be important factors in the sustained output and competitiveness of the industry - I will work with partner AstraZeneca to engineer quantum-enhanced sensing systems to be compatible with high-throughput screening for future drug discovery. This example in turn impacts on society through improving healthcare. My direct engagement with industry will enable me to educate their personnel on quantum technology. Project progress will disseminate through the networks of each partner and their own supply chains - e.g. partner the National Physics Laboratory (NPL) has considerable experience of "ensur[ing] cutting edge measurement science and technology ha[s] a positive impact in the real world [... to] deliver world-leading measurement solutions that are critical to commercial research and development, and support business success across the UK and the globe" (http://www.npl.co.uk/about/what-is-npl/). I will have access to NPL's expertise in achieving this.
 
Description Key findings include the following. We demonstrated that it is possible to use integrated germanium photodiodes in silicon nano-photonics to implement integrated homodyne detectors that are suitable for quantum photonics, including qunatum sensing [https://doi.org/10.1088/2058-9565/aaa38f]. We found combining with integrated electronics, we can reach new bandwidths for sensing quantum light detection not previously achievable (9GHz) [https://doi.org/10.5523/bris.3j52pj4e8oa2821wmrjcmfqg0z]. We discovered and implemented a passive optical network in optical fibres that can suppress noise in classical laser emission down to the shot noise limit --- this circuit can be cascaded to broaden the bandwidth over which noise can be supressed [https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevApplied.12.044073]. Silicon photonics can be used for large scale quantum optics devices, comprising hundreds of individual components on one chip all working together for one quantum experiment [https://doi.org/10.1038/s41566-018-0236-y]. Nonlinear interference, that is a new area for quantum sensing, can be implemented on silicon chip [https://doi.org/10.1364/OL.44.001277]. We explored resource counting in quantum sensing of optical absorbance and surpassed required thresholds to achieve a quantum advantage (without post selection and benchmarked per photon flux) [https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevApplied.8.014016], [https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-06545-w]. We applied these techniques to observe (with post selection) a proof of principle of quantum advantage in absorption spectroscopy [https://doi.org/10.1088/1367-2630/aa5512] and (without post selection) a quantum advantage in microscopy using a hybrid detection scheme of a camera and a single photon detector [https://doi.org/10.1364/OE.27.030810]. The findings of this project, including these key findings, assist further research in (i) photonic quantum sensing applied to other disciplines and (ii) implementations of quantum sensing in integrated optics, for future potential in miniaturised sensing devices operating beyond the classical limit.
Exploitation Route Application by academics of the techniques developed in the project to other disciplines is most likely to be the immediate next step (I am attempting this myself). There is also potential for commercial exploitation of technology developed in this project. This could be via SMEs or larger industry bodies that uptake the activity to first demonstrate prototypes that are engineered for robustness and application outside of the quantum optics laboratory.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

 
Description Innovate UK commercialisation of quantum technologies - feasibility studies
Amount £76,108 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R020183/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2017 
End 08/2018
 
Description Innovate UK:
Amount £420,575 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R020302/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2017 
End 05/2019
 
Description Nano-scale imaging with Hong-Ou-Mandel Interferometry (Nano-HOM)
Amount £329,466 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R024170/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2018 
End 06/2021
 
Description Photonics for engineered quantum enhanced measurement
Amount € 1,497,890 (EUR)
Funding ID 803665 
Organisation European Research Council (ERC) 
Sector Public
Country Belgium
Start 01/2019 
End 12/2024
 
Title A Homodyne Detector Integrated onto a Photonic Chip for Measuring Quantum States and Generating Random Numbers 
Description Data output from experiment and theory sub projects around quantum enhanced sensors. Using quantum states of light to enhance optical measurement precision and accuracy. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact NA 
URL https://data.bris.ac.uk/data/dataset/2zoorhel0xbsr2dbosecymaocl
 
Title A practical model of twin-beam experiments for sub-shot-noise absorption measurements 
Description Underlying data for manuscript "A practical model of twin-beam experiments for sub-shot-noise absorption measurements" 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
URL https://data.bris.ac.uk/data/dataset/axp4yplom05m2hapqz5cd5xyo/
 
Title Absorption spectroscopy at the ultimate quantum limit from single-photon states 
Description Underlying data for correlated photon experiments used to demonstrate sub shot noise absorption spectroscopy measurements 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact N/A 
URL https://data.bris.ac.uk/data/dataset/1g55e0oh0sl6v1tzztdrbeullo
 
Title Data from "Demonstrating an absolute quantum advantage in direct absorption measurement" 
Description Underpinning data used in manuscript entitled "Demonstrating an absolute quantum advantage in direct absorption measurement" 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact NA 
URL https://data.bris.ac.uk/data/dataset/1zrhp3eyue11w2wtfga8jd77j8
 
Title Data from "Passive, broadband and low-frequency suppression of laser amplitude noise to the shot-noise limit using hollow-core fibre" Physical Review Applied (10-2019) 
Description Data output from experiment using hollow-core fibre to suppress classical amplitude noise in fibre laser systems. Used as basis in published work: "Passive, broadband and low-frequency suppression of laser amplitude noise to the shot-noise limit using hollow-core fibre". 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Further application of results within research group 
URL https://data.bris.ac.uk/data/dataset/3u9log9k6begn27y0korx813xn
 
Title Generation of random numbers by measuring on a silicon-on-insulator chip phase fluctuations from a laser diode 
Description Underpinning data for manuscript entitled "Generation of random numbers by measuring on a silicon-on-insulator chip phase fluctuations from a laser diode" 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact NA 
URL https://data.bris.ac.uk/data/dataset/2nvzdjr7gy4ox2njh7a6tbwks6
 
Title Optical implementation of spin squeezing 
Description Underlying data for correlated photon experiments used to demonstrate an optical implementation of spin squeezing 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact NA 
URL https://data.bris.ac.uk/data/dataset/1u56e9gm6h2ao2iqlv9mkd7zd7
 
Title Sub-shot-noise transmission measurement enabled by active feed-forward of heralded single photons 
Description Underlying data used in manuscript "Sub-shot-noise transmission measurement enabled by active feed-forward of heralded single photons" 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact NA 
URL https://data.bris.ac.uk/data/dataset/9lm4e9t18ffm26ri0cbe7yr4p
 
Title Twin-beam sub-shot-noise raster-scanning microscope 
Description Open access data relating to the publication J. Sabines-Chesterking et al. "Twin-beam sub-shot-noise raster-scanning microscope " Optics Express 27, 30810-30818 (2019) / arXiv-quant-ph:1906.05331 (2019) 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Title Underpinning data for "Large-scale silicon quantum photonics implementing arbitrary two-qubit processing" 
Description Data used to evidence the demonstration of a universal two-qubit processor made in silicon 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Further application within group for new projects 
URL https://data.bris.ac.uk/data/dataset/1gbf7bpuazruz26cxh0tc0q9zq
 
Description "Quantum enhanced spectroscopy" at conference SPIE DCS, Baltimore, April 2016. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited presentation at conference SPIE Defence and Commercial Sensors, held in Baltimore in April 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://spie.org/Documents/ConferencesExhibitions/Si-DCS16-Advance-lr.pdf
 
Description A talk "Sub shot noise sensing", at the South west quantum technologies, Cardiff, Jan 19th 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Multi-disiplinary meeting where presenters were discussing quantum technologies meets biology. This led to development of my own thought processes at that discipline interface.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description An invited seminar "Sub shot noise measurement with each photon" at Heriot Watt University, May '17 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Presenting latest results from my fellowship to academic researchers across physics at Heriot Watt. This sparked discussions that led to a grant application for collaboration
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description An invited talk on "Homodyne detection on-chip for large scale silicon quantum photonics", QCMC, LSU, Baton Rouge, 12-16 March 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dissemination of research results. Talk sparked discussions for further collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description An invited talk on -- "Sub shot noise absorption measurement and microscopy with correlated photons", Photon18, Aston University, 03-09 Sept 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Dissemination of research results. Requests for further information.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description BQIT:16 Conference (Bristol) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented talk on Quantum-enhanced imaging and sensing at BQIT:16 from the 15th April to 17th
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Bristol Graduate School Colloquium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact One of my students spoke at the Bristol Graduate School Colloquium on our work in 'Quantum-Enhanced Absorption Spectroscopy' the idea is to get undergraduate students interested in our activities with a view to getting more progressing to Postgraduate study in the future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Bristol Waterloo Workshop presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented at bio-physics, nano and photonics Bristol-Waterloo Workshop, Waterloo, Ontario, CA, June 2015.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description CLEO 11-15 May 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Dr Jonathan Matthews presented a talk at CLEO 2020 on "Increasing the optical power in sub-shot noise precision measurements of absorption." The talk sparked questions and an engaging discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Invited Keynote talk on --- "Analogue & digital quantum simulation of quantum walks with photons" 8th Workshop on Quantum Simulation & Quantum Walk 2018 UWA, Perth, Australia, 14/12/18, 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dissemination of research results and project. Requests for further information. Offer of employment as a Professor at another institution (declined).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Invited Seminar at Imperial College London on "Sub shot noise measurements of transmission per photon flux" 01/11/2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The main outcome from the seminar has led to the (ongoing) collaborative grant writing together with Dr Alex Clark at Imperial, to use results from this project for his research in DBT molecules
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited physics colloquium, University of Glasgow - "Sub shot noise measurement with each photon" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited physics colloquium at the University of Glasgow. 25th Jan 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Invited presentation at qlightcrete, Crete, June '16. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited research talk at conference "light" in Crete in 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Invited research seminar at department of Physics, university of Oxford 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited seminar at the department of physics, University of Oxford
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Invited talk "An on-chip homodyne detector for measuring quantum states", NIM Conference on Resonator QED, Munich, Aug 29th 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk at an academic conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.nano-initiative-munich.de/events/nim-conference-on-resonator-qed-2017/
 
Description Invited talk on " "Homodyne detectors on-chip for large scale silicon quantum photonics" at "Single Photon based Quantum Technologies" May 22 - 24, 2019 in Berlin, Germany 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A symposium held by photonics industry company Picoquant. As a result of my presentation, I made contact with a representative in the company who may collaborate with in future. It was an opportunity to disseminate my results to the community represented at the symposium.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited talk on "Homodyne detectors on-chip for large scale silicon quantum photonics" at 2019 IEEE Photonics society summer topical meeting 08/07/2019 --- 10/07/2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dissemination of results lead to a new collaboration with researchers in MIT.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited talk on "Homodyne detectors on-chip for large scale silicon quantum photonics" at single photon workshop in Milano 21/10/2019 -- 25/10/2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dissemination of results led to useful feedback from the community and opportunities for collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited talk on "Sub shot noise measurements of transmission per photon flux" at Quantum 2019 in Turin, Italy, 26/05/2019 -- 01/06/2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was an opportunity to disseminate results from the project. A direct result of the talk was oppertunities to collaborate
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited talk on "Sub shot noise transmission spectroscopy and imaging with correlated photon pairs" Quantum light for complex molecules, Chichley Hall, Milton Keynes 25/11/19 -- 26/11/2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The dissemination of results led to an invitation to apply to be a visiting researcher at JILA, Colorado. This will enable collaborations to apply the findings of the project to biological sciences.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited theoretical physics seminar, University of Exeter "Sub shot noise measurement with each photon" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Delivered an invited seminar on the 28th Feb 2017 at the university of Exeter in the physics department
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation at the UK Quantum Technology Hub Network Conference 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented work on quantum metrology at the 2015 UK Hub network conference in September 2015.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Presented talk at Meta 15 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Spoke at Meta 15 in New York, August 2015
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Presented talk for Bristol University Alumni 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Presented work at a Bristol University 1965 alumni on quantum enhanced sensing and metrology.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Quantum in the Summer (summer school) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Last year members of my team set up a summer school for students aged 16+ as part of an engagement activity to get more students to study science at University and beyond.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.bristol.ac.uk/physics/research/quantum/engagement/qsummer/
 
Description SPIE DCS, Sept 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Dr Jonathan Matthews presented a talk on "Increasing the optical power in sub-shot noise precision measurements of absorption," followed by a Q&A session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Short lecture series delivered at 9th Winter School on Optoelectronics and Photonics: IQP in Folgaria, March 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Winter school for postgraduate students. Invited talks. Led directly to audience members applying for position in my group.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://events.unitn.it/en/iqp2017
 
Description University of Bristol, Physics Colloquium on "...Sub shot noise measurement with photons", Oct '18 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Dissemination of reserach outcomes to Shool of Physics, University of Bristol. As a result, students chose my final year research project for their undergraduate studies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018