Quantum Microwave Sensor

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sussex
Department Name: Sch of Mathematical & Physical Sciences

Abstract

This project brings atomic physics and cryogenic research together to establish the Geonium Chip as a pioneering, practical quantum technology. The chip's core element is the Coplanar Waveguide Penning trap, conceived and developed by the PI at the University of Sussex. It has a broad range of applications, including quantum computation and metrology, mass spectrometry and the physics of strongly correlated electrons. The project will focus on one concrete goal: the implementation of a broadband, tuneable, quantum non-demolition detector of single microwave photons.

An efficient detector of single microwave (MW) photons is a fundamental tool still missing in quantum technology. Such detectors are essential for determining the quantum state of GHz radiation fields and thus vital for quantum communication/information applications with microwaves. While several alternatives based upon super- and semiconductor technologies are being developed, the first observations of individual microwave photons employed a trapped electron as transducer. We will develop the electrons as functional sensors, with unique capabilities for the observation and coherent manipulation of quantum MW fields, initially within the frequency range 3-60 GHz.

Cryogenic Penning traps permit an accurate control of the dynamics of a trapped electron, at the level of inducing and observing quantum jumps between its Fock-states. The rest gas pressure in cryogenic vacuum chambers amounts to 10^(-16) mbar, allowing for a very prolonged capture (months) of the particles. The continuous Stern-Gerlach effect permits the detection and manipulation of the electron's spin, while the Purcell effect enhances the coherence time of its quantum state. Hence, cryogenic Penning traps are excellent quantum laboratories and trapped electrons have been proposed for implementing a quantum processor. A single electron in a Penning trap is also known as a geonium atom, as coined by the 1989 Nobel laureate Hans Dehmelt. It is outstanding for ultra-high precision metrology. Examples are the free electron's g-factor, measured with 10^(-13) relative uncertainty and the proton-to-electron mass ratio with 10^(-10). These, and other advanced Penning trap experiments, invariably employ a big, "room-size", superconducting solenoid. We propose to radically change that concept: integrating the trap and the magnetic field source in a single, scalable (2nd generation) Geonium Chip.

Within this project we will develop the 2nd generation Geonium Chip into a practical quantum technology. A functional microwave photon detector must provide the following critical features:

a) A tuneable, broadband detection range
b) Quantum Non Demolition detection
c) High quantum efficiency
d) Coherent connectivity to other systems
e) Scalability and a cost as low as possible.

The currently most advanced Penning traps use superconducting solenoids, requiring highly specialised engineers to tune the trapping magnetic field -and hence the detection range-. Moreover, cooling to 100 mK or lower is done with extremely expensive (> £ 350 000) dilution refrigerators, difficult to install and operate. This contrasts radically with our novel Geonium platform, which will eliminate solenoid and dilution refrigerator altogether. With this pioneering approach, we will reduce the cost and complexity, enabling our chip Penning trap as a useful quantum 2.0 technology, particularly as a single microwave photon detector.

Planned Impact

1 Application and exploitation. Two patents protect the intellectual property on the Geonium Chip: US 8,362,423 B1 and WO 2013/041615 A2. The anticipated economic impacts in mass spectrometry and in quantum technology are the main motivations. In the case of mass spectrometry, which is a very mature market, our strategy is to first demonstrate experimentally the advantages of our technology, making it more valuable to prospective stakeholders.

Scientific Advisory Board. In the case of quantum technology 2.0, particularly for single MW photon detection, the market is still inexistent. The Geonium Chip will be ready to be used as a MW sensor by Year 4. Thus, within the given time frame of total 5 years we will investigate one practical application among the many potential uses. At this point it is still open what particular application we will focus on (options given in WP4). We will build one single device, hence it is critical to have interested users on board from day 1 of the project. Through their vital input on potential uses in their sectors, we will be able to make the pertinent design and construction plans -within the general technical boundaries described in the Case for Support- to meet the specified requirements. For this reason our strategy is to incorporate DSTL, BAE Systems and Selex ES as advisors to the project. We will form a Scientific Advisory Board with the following members: PI (Verdu) + Co-I (Hepburn) + Sussex industry liaison officer (Colin Hayhurst) + DSTL + BAE Systems + Selex ES. Other academics and/or industrial partners will be eventually invited later to join the advisory board. This will meet regularly, at least twice per year, mostly at Sussex but also at MSSL and other locations. The PI will chair the meetings. In addition to the participation in the board, DSTL will provide access to trial facilities for testing our MW sensor in realistic scenarios.

Dissemination. We plan to attend the following conferences (in some editions during the fellowship): European Conference on Trapped Ions ECTI (held every 2nd year), European Conference on Atoms and Photons ECAMP (every third year), International Conference on Atomic Physics ICAP, Cryogenic Engineering Conference CEC and Low Temperature Detector conference LTD (all every 2nd year). We will also attend at least one workshop per year on any of the relevant areas. In total 12 events (5 conferences + 5 workshops + 2 meetings) are planned to boost the impact.

2 Communications and engagement. Deliverable D1 is expected to be published in Physical Review Letters or similar. Deliverable D2 expected to appear in Nature, Science or similar. Furthermore, the domain www.geoniumchip.org has been registered for dissemination of our research. This web page will provide useful files for downloading. In particular, we will offer a full interactive calculator/simulator of planar Penning traps, based upon the free software Wolfram CDF player. This will contribute to increase the visibility of the page and also the number of citations and impact of our results. We also plan to record some demonstration videos explaining and showing "live" our activities.

3 Collaboration and coproduction. A planned collaboration with the group of Prof Dr F Schmidt-Kaler in Mainz (www.quantenbit.de) is aimed at developing into a future formal European network (a collaborative project of Horizon 2020 or future equivalent) in which our group will assume a leading role.

4 Capacity and involvement. The PI and Co-I will be the main persons for impact activities, particularly for presentations in conferences, visiting other groups, networking and outreach. The requested PDRA will participate in one international conference/workshop per year and will also be involved in networking and outreach.

Publications

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Pinder J (2020) Planar, strong magnetic field source for a chip ion trap. in The Review of scientific instruments

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Lacy J (2020) Superconducting Flux Pump for a Planar Magnetic Field Source in IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity

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Crimin F (2017) The quantum theory of the Penning trap in Journal of Modern Optics

 
Description We have developed a novel ion Penning trap technology. The developed technology is well beyond the initial expected outcomes listed in the proposal

We now have also learned the key advantage in the use of trapped electrons for quantum microwave sensing. Specifically we have discovered that the trapped electron is the most efficient platform for implementing the quantum illumination protocol with microwaves. This is the key quantum metrology technique required for developing a quantum radar and other quantum microwave sensing/imaging devices. The results were obtained with the financial help from Leonardo MW Ltd, and cannot be published yet, as explained in previous sections.
Exploitation Route We are developing a new Mass Spectrometry technology which might revolutionise that field. Developing a practical mass analyser system is our next goal.
I have commented this elsewhere in researchfish.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology,Other

 
Description Results of this grant have triggered now real investment -in cash- from DSTL and Leonardo MW Ltd, as explained in previous sections.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Other
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Innovate UK funding competition: commercialisation of quantum technologies - feasibility studies
Amount £140,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 02/2018
 
Description Microwave Quantum IlIumination with a trapped electron. DSTL PhD call 2018 (Quantum Sensing)
Amount £118,000 (GBP)
Organisation Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2019 
End 10/2023
 
Description Quantum Illumination in the geonium chip, a feasibility study
Amount £31,000 (GBP)
Funding ID Private research contract # 4500138590 / University of Sussex 
Organisation Leonardo MW Ltd. 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 01/2018
 
Description Research Development Fund, University of Sussex
Amount £39,000 (GBP)
Funding ID Research Development Fund, round 8, Implementation of a quantum transducer of single microwave photons 
Organisation University of Sussex 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2017 
End 01/2018
 
Description UCL Doctoral Training Centre in Quantum Science and Technology (£ 65000; 2017 - 2021)
Amount £65,000 (GBP)
Organisation University College London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 08/2021
 
Description University of Sussex: - DTA PhD studentship II (£ 65000; 2016 - 2020)
Amount £65,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Sussex 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2016 
End 03/2020
 
Description Quantum Microwave Sensor 
Organisation BAE Systems
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Quantum Microwave Sensor
Collaborator Contribution Steering group
Impact Too early
Start Year 2015
 
Description Quantum Microwave Sensor 
Organisation Selex ES
Country Italy 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Quantum Microwave Sensor
Collaborator Contribution Steering group. Leonardo MW Ltd contributed £ 22,000 -in cash- to this research project. They funded a feasibility study on the use of a trapped electron for developing a quantum radar. DSTL, has also made a very substantial contribution -in cash- to the project. They have contributed £ 118,000 for the development of the quantum microwave sensor for future applications in quantum radar.
Impact I have mentioned in above that the collaboration has already resulted in significant contributions of the two partners, Leonardo MW Ltd and DSTL (= Defence Science and Technology laboratory). One concrete outcome of this collaboration has been the feasibility report on the use of a trapped electron for quantum radar that we (Sussex) provided to Leonardo MW Ltd as deliverable for the investment of this company in our research. This feasibility study has been very successful and has triggered the investment of DSTL mentioned above (£ 118,000). However, the feasibility report is confidential and cannot be published yet, in the form of a long article or a series of articles. The reason is that Leonardo MW Ltd have decided to patent the ideas contained in that report. At the moment (March 2020) Sussex and Leonardo are negotiating the terms for a joint patent and commercial exploitation. When an agreement will have been reached, we will be filing a patent and then publish the results described in the mentioned confidential report. We expect that the academic impact will be high and will aim at PRL or similar high impact journals. Moreover, Leonardo MW Ltd will be further investing £ 40,000 in my near future research plans -already committed- and possibly much more, depending on the progress in the lab.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Quantum Microwave Sensor 
Organisation University College London
Department Mullard Space Science Laboratory
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Quantum mIcrowave sensor
Collaborator Contribution ADR cyo-cooler
Impact Too early
Start Year 2015
 
Description The CPW-cavity planar Penning trap. 
Organisation University of Southampton
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The regional Physics network for the South of England, SEPnet (www.sepnet.ac.uk), offers an excellent scientific environment for collaboration and exchange of scientific ideas. Apart of Sussex members of SEPnet are the Universities of Kent, Southampton, Surrey, Queen Mary of London, and Royal Holloway. The fabrication of the planar Penning traps is conducted at the new facilities of the Southampton Nanofabrication Centre (www.southampton-nanofab.com) in collaboration with the group of Prof M Kraft, who is a world-class expert in micromachining and nanotechnology.
Start Year 2010
 
Title Ion Trap 
Description New planar Penning trap technology with electrodes and magnetic field source implemented in a chip. 
IP Reference WO2013041615 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2017
Licensed No
Impact Innovate UK grant
 
Description Conference ECTI, Switzerland September 2106 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact CONFERENCE ON TRAPPED IONS
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description ECCTI, 1st Early Career Conference on Trapped Ions, CERN, Switzerland, 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact This conference was organised by my former PhD student April Cridland, currently at CERN (via University of Swansea). It is aimed at early career researchers in the filed of ion traps. All the members of my team (PhD students and Postdoc) participated in this event and presented our latest progress in the lab.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description ECTI 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description NPL Seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited seminar
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Westmister eForum: Developing quantum technologies in the UK - investment, research and commercialisation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This was a meeting at Westminster with participation of some MP and people involved in the commercialisation in Quantum Technologies in the UK. The meeting was useful for making some networking and see future trends in the UK on the research on quantum technology
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020