Praseodymium Laser Architecture Investigation and Demonstrator (PLAID)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: School of Physics and Astronomy


Quantum technology initiative is focused on bringing quantum sensors and quantum devices to market and end users.
Quantum Sensors offer unquestioned performance advantages in sensitivity and some steps have been made at making
more compact systems. But for genuine and widespread applications substantial improvements need to be made in size,
weight and power ('SWAP') and ruggedness of these systems. An ultra stable is the bedrock for quantum quantum sensors
for timing, gravity and magnetic field. They are also the key to secure communication, quantum computation and quantum
imaging. In addition to SWAP, such systems need to encompass the wavelength ranges, which are not so easily
accessible today. In this project, we aim to develop a laser platform matching the optical performance of current
commercial lasers (e.g. Ti:S laser from M2 and Coherent) in a footprint but with a price point comparable to the externalcavity
diode laser (ECDL). We plan to demonstrate that such a platform can operate on many otherwise difficult-to-access but crucial lines. Such a development will be a critical step on the road to the translation of QT from the research
community to the defence, space and consumer market. In the short term, economic opportunity will arise from the supply
chain building activities, delivering novel world leading underpinning technologies. The aimed laser platform will leap frog
us in the exploitation of global QT research. The research groups world wide often dream of having turn-key systems. In
the medium term, the UK will become the supplier of choice for early low-volume, high-value applications of QT (finance,
space) and in the long- term we will be ideally placed to exploit the inevitable transition of QT to the consumer market. The
work done in the project will also have a tangle impact on the space sector. In brief, this project will bring reduction in
volume, power, size and cost by over an order of magnitude and this will done without losing their performance and
robustness. These components are enormously critical, thereby leap frogging the UK QT development and

Planned Impact

The project will create benefits for a number of users:
Benefits to Industry: Whilst there companies are ideally positioned for system integration, they will rely on key supply chain
partners to provide other components, such as low cost and ultra stable laser platforms, the vacuum systems, optical
interfaces etc. Therefore the output of this project will enable the creation of opportunities opportunities and benefits for
numerous technological solutions. Furthermore, the scientific challenges and knowledge addressed during the project will
create opportunities for supply chain partners to develop their own unique technologies, support differentiation,
competitiveness and new business growth. The main output of the project will be a robust, miniaturised, low power and low
cost narrow line width laser platform representing a core sub-system component to numerous quantum technology
systems, such as atomic clocks, gravity sensors, magnetic sensors etc.; which in turn become core components of platform
systems such as: navigation systems, geo-physic sensors for gravity mapping etc. Successful delivery of the project results
thereby demonstrates the potential to benefit numerous sensor / system integrators.
Quantum technology has the potential to demonstrate performance gains for a wide range of applications, such as defence
(navigation, tunnel detection, battlefield imaging), geophysics (oil prospecting, void / feature detection, utility mapping), civil
engineering (infrastructure mapping) etc. In the long term such systems will deliver highly disruptive solutions that: i) lead to
the creation of new markets; ii) satisfy currently un-met user needs; or iii) achieve performance gains far beyond existing
solutions. A particular focus of the project will be optical lattice clocks for space and terrestrial applications. The consortium
will engage with potential European and International end-users to: i) inform them about the features of quantum optical
clocks; ii) to explore potential end-use applications; and iii) to define a roadmap for take up and use. Early applications are
anticipated for navigation and GPS replacement (reduced reliance).
Benefits to Society:
Quantum technology is a disruptive technology with the potential to create new markets and business growth, leading to
UK employment, economic growth and wealth creation. The project represents an important step towards the development
of a key component / platform technology that will enable the realisation of these benefits / impacts. The target final
application for the project results are optical lattice clocks. Such atomic clocks demonstrate a wide range of benefits for
society including: reduced dependence on GPS (a major risk and concern for society); and enhanced navigation leading to
more efficient transport systems; to name but a few. Such benefits / impacts align with numerous National policy priorities,
such as security, smart cities and transport etc.


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Description We are on the way to assess the characteristics and specific advantages of Praeseodymium lasers for quantum technology applications.
Exploitation Route Commercialisation and further research
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Security and Diplomacy,Transport

Description This is part of an InnovateUK project helping the involved companies to develop new products for quantum technology. These are likely going to be commercialized.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Security and Diplomacy,Transport
Impact Types Economic