Novel compact narrow linewidth laser for gravimetric and quantum applications

Lead Research Organisation: STFC - Laboratories
Department Name: RAL Space


The proposed project focuses on developing sub-systems required for the development of quantum sensing applications into the real world, and the development of a sub-system supply chain. The current project focusing on 1) the development of miniature integrated high stability laser sources, 2) the development of associated digital stabilization electronics suitable for ASICs integration in harsh environments. During the project a novel integrated laser source will be developed and fully characterized in purposed built experiments involving atomic and molecular spectroscopy. At the same time, dedicated digital electronics required to ensure ultra-high laser stability will be developed with the long term prospect of space qualification to enable quantum sensors on-board space platforms. Ultimately the novel laser system and associated digital integrated electronics will be evaluated on a cold rubidium atoms interferometer developed for gravity sensing.

Planned Impact

Beyond the targeted remits of the technology to be developed, which have been described in depth in the main innovate UK pro forma, the academic partner (RAL Space) will seek impact maximization outside these remits.

The RAL team already engage with the Quantum Sensing communities, but will do more through the dissemination of the project outcomes. We will participate in quantum sensing hubs events and KTN events to show the capability built in miniaturized rugged systems for quantum sensing. We anticipate the academic community involved in quantum sensing to be the early adopters of the subsystems to be developed in the proposed project.

The proposed work will also impact favourably the field of laser sensing in more general terms. Certainly within the RAL laser spectroscopy, the availability of small digital rugged laser stabilization electronics will allow the development of molecular nonlinear and coherent spectroscopy, to explore in the medium term molecular quantum sensing application.

In the long term, we anticipate the proposed work to favourably impact the space sector as well and this is one of the rationales for embedding the concept of space qualification early in the electronic design. We are already interacting with the European Space Agency, which is keen to support through its Technology Readiness Program, the advance of quantum sensors towards space application.

The proposed project will also fit very well in the overall optical integration and miniaturization technology program within RAL space to support the development of real optical world sensors, for space sciences, astronomy, Earth observation, atmospheric and environmental sciences. We anticipate seeking further funding in this area on the basis of the work and expertise build upon the proposed project.

The outcome of the project will also impact the field of physical chemistry by provision of laser systems suitable to study hyperfine structures, coherent effects, and develop novel spectroscopy schemes for physical chemistry investigations. We will interact with the relevant community to look into joint research projects in this area.


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Description This project has been pioneering the development of a miniaturized complex electronic system for and atom gravimetry experiment. This project has focused on coupling the novel electronics system to laser subsystem part of a atom interferometer being built in our laboratories. The feedback from the project has enabled the full development funded through the MacLAren project.
Exploitation Route The findings have already been taken further owing to the IUK MacLAren project towards the development of a space mission compatible atom interferometre.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine

Description The findings have been used to demonstrate to the space industry and the space agencies that the prospect of space-borne atom interferometers is realistic and achievable. The project has strongly participated to the technological readiness level rising of the technology and the applications. It has enabled us to gain credibility with the European Space Agency and to be in a good position for space hardware development around quantum gravimetry applications.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Electronics
Impact Types Economic

Description Innovate UK quantum sensing call
Amount £2,000,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R019304/1 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 03/2019
Description MCLAREN: Miniaturised Cold Atom Gravimeter for Space Applications
Amount £1,553,892 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R019304/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 03/2019
Description M Squared Lasers 
Organisation M Squared Lasers Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Development of space qualified electronics for quantum gravimetry.
Collaborator Contribution Development of laser sources. Establishment of consortium for full system development.
Impact Multidisciplinary including all engineering disciplines involved in atom interferometer development.
Start Year 2018
Description Redwave Labs laser characterization 
Organisation RedWave Labs Ltd
PI Contribution We are planned to provide the experimental bench and measurement campaign to assess the frequency stability performance of a novel miniaturized laser built by Redwave ltd.
Collaborator Contribution The partner is planned to loan us a novel laser that we will characterized within the framework of our applications.
Impact None so far as the project is not yet completed.
Start Year 2017