EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Delivering Quantum Technologies

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: London Centre for Nanotechnology

Abstract

For many years, quantum mechanics has been a curiosity at the heart of physics. Its development was essential to many of the key breakthroughs of 20th century science, but it is famous for counter-intuitive features; the superposition illustrated by Schrödinger's cat; and the quantum entanglement responsible for Einstein's "spooky action at a distance". Quantum Technologies are based on the idea that the "weirdness" of quantum mechanics also presents a technological opportunity. Since quantum mechanical systems behave in a fundamentally different way to large-scale systems, if this behaviour could be controlled and exploited it could be utilised for fundamentally new technologies.

Ideas for using quantum effects to enhancing computation, cryptography and sensing emerged in the 1980s, but the level of technology required to exploit them was out of reach. Quantum effects were only observed in systems at either very tiny scales (at the level of atoms and molecules) or very cold temperatures (a fraction of a degree above absolute zero). Many of the key quantum mechanical effects predicted many years ago were only confirmed in the laboratory in the 21st century. For example, a decisive demonstration of Einstein's spooky action at a distance was first achieved in 2015. With such rapid experimental progress in the last decade, we have reached a turning point, and quantum effects previously confined to university laboratories are now being demonstrated in commercially fabricated chips and devices.

Quantum Technologies could have a profound impact on our economy and society; Quantum computers that can perform computations beyond the capabilities of the most powerful supercomputer; microscopic sensing devices with unprecedented sensitivity; communications whose security is guaranteed by the laws of physics. These technologies could be hugely transformative, with potential impacts in health-care, finance, defence, aerospace, energy and transport.

While the past 30 years ofquantum technology research have been largely confined to universities, the delivery of practical quantum technologies over the next 5-10 years will be defined by achievements in industrial labs and industry-academic partnerships. For this industry to develop, it will be essential that there is a workforce who can lead it. This workforce requires skills that no previous industry has utilised, combining a deep understanding of the quantum physics underlying the technologies as well as the engineering, computer science and transferrable skills to exploit them.

The aim of our Centre for Doctoral Training is to train the leaders of this new industry. They will be taught advanced technical topics in physics, engineering, and computer science, alongside essential broader skills in communication and entrepreneurship. They will undertake world-class original research leading to a PhD. Throughout their studies they will be trained by, and collaborate with a network of partner organisations including world-leading companies and important national government laboratories. The graduates of our Centre for Doctoral Training will be quantum technologists, helping to create and develop this potentially revolutionary 21st-century industry in the UK.

Planned Impact

The first and most important impact of our Centre will be through the cross-disciplinary technical training it provides for its students. Through this training, they will have not only skills to control and exploit quantum physics in new ways, but also the background in device engineering and information science to bring these ideas to implementation and to seek out new applications. Our commercial and governmental partners tell us how important these skills are in the growing number of people they are hiring in the field of quantum technologies. In the longer term we expect our graduates to be prominent in the development of new technologies and their application to communication, information processing, and measurement science in leading university and government laboratories as well as in commercial research and development. In the shorter term we expect them to be carrying out doctoral research of the highest international quality.

Second, impact will also flow from the students' approach to enterprise and technology transfer. From the outset they will be encouraged to think about the value of intellectual property, the opportunity it provides, and the fundraising needed to support research and development. As students with this mindset come to play a prominent part in university and commercial laboratories, their common background will help to break down the traditional barriers between these sectors and deliver the promise of quantum technologies for the benefit of the UK and world economies. Concrete actions to accelerate this impact will include entrepreneurship training and an annual CDT industry day.

Third, through the participation it nucleates in the training programme and in students' research, the Centre will bring together a community of partners from industry and government laboratories. In the short term this will facilitate new collaborations and networks involving the partners and the students; in the long term it will help to ensure that the supply of highly skilled people from the CDT reaches the parts of industry that need them most.

Finally, the CDT will have a strong impact on the quantum technologies training landscape in the UK. The Centre will organise training events and workshops open to all doctoral researchers to attend. We will also collaborate with CDTs in the quantum technologies and related research areas to coordinate our efforts and maximise our joint impact. Working in consort, these CDTs will form a vibrant national training network benefitting the entire UK doctoral research community.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S021582/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2028
2252590 Studentship EP/S021582/1 23/09/2019 01/10/2023 Falk Cedric Maximilian Bonus
2252686 Studentship EP/S021582/1 23/09/2019 01/10/2023 Samuel Jacob Griffiths
2252523 Studentship EP/S021582/1 23/09/2019 01/10/2023 Daphne Pauline Wang
2252517 Studentship EP/S021582/1 23/09/2019 01/10/2023 Jacob Francis Chittock-Wood
2252510 Studentship EP/S021582/1 23/09/2019 01/10/2023 Asmae Benhemou
2252595 Studentship EP/S021582/1 23/09/2019 01/10/2023 Eleanor Parker
2257965 Studentship EP/S021582/1 23/09/2019 01/10/2023 Luke Lister Brown
2252587 Studentship EP/S021582/1 23/09/2019 01/10/2023 Natasha Janina Feinstein
2252593 Studentship EP/S021582/1 23/09/2019 01/10/2023 Dylan Peter Lewis
2252605 Studentship EP/S021582/1 23/09/2019 01/10/2023 Sami Boulebnane