Quantum Geonium Mass Sensor. A route to market feasibility

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


The geonium chip is a novel superconducting ion trap implemented on a chip of a few square cm. This pioneering chip Penning trap has been developed at the Centre for Quantum Technologies of the University of Sussex by a team leadered by Dr Jose Verdu. The geonium chip enables several exciting applications in quantum technologies. One is the implementation of a detector of microwave radiation with ultimate sensitivity, i.e. at the single photon level. Within this project we will focus on the application of the chip as an ultra-accurate mass analyser, capable of measuring the mass of a particle -from atoms to complex molecules- with very high acuracy. Mass Spectrometry is an analytical technique vastly used in chemistry, biotechnology, food and safety monitoring, pharmaceutics, genomics, proteomics, and many others. Its academic and economic importance is thoroughly documented by the British Mass Spectrometry Society (www.bmss.org.uk). The global market amounts to £ 1.5 billion/year, with expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.9% in 2012-2017. In this project, a team of scientists, engineers and managers, coordinated by Polestar Consulting Ltd, will investigate the feasibility of a full mass analyser system based upon the geonium chip. The team will also include ICEOxford a world-leader in cryogenic technologies.

We will investigate the feasibility of commercialising the geonium chip quantum technology as a Fourier Transform - Ion Cyclotron Resonance (FT-ICR) Mass Analyser. The chip is a novel ion trap quantum technology developed by the University of Sussex. It enables a revolutionary chip-size mass spectrometer (MS), with mass resolution and accuracy similar to the most anvanced conventional FT-ICR systems currently available, but eliminating the need for a "room-size" and extremely expensive superconducting magnet. This unique feature will enable proliferation of the use of ultra-accurate mass analysis by reducing the capital outlay and footprint, making the technology more deployable and increasing the potential applications. We will investigate the technical and economic feasibility of a compact cryogenic product based upon the requirements of the geonium chip. We will engage with potential end users to determine the market requirements and suitable applications for the geonium chip mass analyser. We will prepare data and business case material to enabe discussions with potential established MS vendors and investigate commercial routes to market our pioneering quantum mass analyser.

Planned Impact

The work conducted in this project will benefit future users of mass spectrometry an analytical technique vastly used in chemistry, biotechnology, food and safety monitoring, pharmaceutics, genomics, proteomics, and many others fields. The Quantum Geonium Mass Spectrometer technology (QGMS) has the potential to transform the mass spectrometer market through the availability of more compact mass spectrometers. This will enable proliferation of accurate mass analysis by reducing the capital outlay and footprint making the technology more deployable and increasing the potential number of applications. The market for mass spectrometers amounts to around £2.5 billion and is growing. Sales revenues from the worldwide sales of QGMS will flow to the UK through licencing and/or direct sales revenues and increase the UK market share in this important sector.


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

Description We have created an homogenous magnetic field of around half a tesla with a planar magnetic field source of the size roughly of one mobile phone. This is essential and a crucial step forward for developing an ultrahigh precise mass spectrometer eliminating the need of a superconducting solenoid. The latter are very large and very expensive devices used in the conventional high precision mass spectrometers currently available. Our research provides a radically new solution which might have a very significant economic impact.
Exploitation Route Why by others ? We have not reached that point yet and more time is needed.
Sectors Chemicals,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

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