QuantIC - The UK Quantum Technology Hub in Quantum Imaging

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


Quantum physics describes how nature links the properties of isolated microscopic objects through interactions mediated by so-called quantum entanglement and that apply not just to atoms but also to particles of light, "photons". These discoveries led to the first "quantum revolution", delivering a range of transformative technologies such as the transistor and the laser that we now take for granted. We are now on the cusp of a second "quantum revolution", which will, over the next 5-10 years, yield a new generation of electronic and photonic devices that exploit quantum science. The challenge is to secure a leadership position in the race to the industrialisation of quantum physics to claim a large share of this emerging global market, which is expected to be worth £1 billion to the UK economy.

QuantIC, the UK's centre for quantum imaging, was formed over four years ago to apply quantum technologies to the development of new cameras with unique imaging capabilities. Tangible impacts are the creation of 3 new companies (Sequestim, QLM and Raycal), technology translation into products through licencing (Timepix chip - Kromek) and the ongoing development with industry of a further 12 product prototypes.

Moving forward, QuantIC will continue to drive paradigm-changing imaging systems such as the ability to see directly inside the human body, the ability to see through fog and smoke, to make microscopes with higher resolution and lower noise than classical physics allows and quantum radars that cannot be jammed or confused by other radars around them. These developments will be enabled by new technologies, such as single-photon cameras, detectors based on new materials and single-photon sensitivity in the mid-infrared spectral regions. Combined with our new computational methods, QuantIC will enable UK industry to lead the global imaging revolution.

QuantIC will dovetail into other significant investments in the Quantum technology transfer ecosystem which is emerging in the UK. The University of Glasgow has allocated one floor of the £118M research hub to supporting fundamental research in quantum science and £28M towards the creation of the Clyde Waterfront Innovation Campus, a new £80M development in collaboration with Glasgow City Council and Scottish Enterprise focussing on the translation of nano and quantum science for enabling technologies such as photonics, optoelectronics and quantum. Heriot-Watt has invested over £2M in new quantum optics laboratories and is currently building a £20M Global Research Innovation and Discovery Centre opening in 2019 to drive the translation of emerging technologies. Bristol is creating a £43M Quantum Innovation centre which already has £21M of industrial investment. Strathclyde University is creating a second £150M Technology Innovation Centre around 6 priority areas, one of which is Quantum Technology.

All of these form part of the wider UK Quantum Technology Programme which is set to transform the UK's world leading science into commercial reality in line with the UK's drive towards a high productivity and high-skill economy. QuantIC will lead the quantum imaging research agenda and act as the bond between parallel activities and investments, thus ensuring paradigm-changing innovation that will transform tomorrow's society.

Planned Impact

1) Academic - please see "academic beneficiaries" section above covering a) identification of beneficiaries b) description of expected impacts. The description of detailed actions we will take to ensure the expected impact are realised are described in the Pathways to Impact.
Our experience is that the ethos and model of the hub is demonstrating that both high-quality academic outputs and industrial impact can be successfully delivered and is driving not just the activities of the supported researchers but the cultures of the participating research groups.

2) Business and Industry

a) QuantIC will enhance the research capacity, knowledge and skills of businesses and contribute to increasing the competitiveness of the UK. Quantum is an enabling technology underpinning sensing and imaging developments in areas spanning healthcare, defence, security, automotive, transport, autonomous vehicles and consumer electronics. In phase one we funded 37 industry-led collaborative projects through the Partnership Resource Fund, leveraging over £2M of industrial contribution; we collaborated in 8 Innovate UK projects (£1.26M); we attracted Centre for Defence Enterprise and Dstl support (6 projects, £850K). Companies involved in projects include JLR, Horiba, Leonardo, Compound Semiconductor Technologies, ClydeSpace, Thales, M Squared Lasers, Gooch & Housego, Kromek, Aralia, Optocap, Bridgeporth, ST Microelectronics, Lockheed Martin, IQE, Sikorski Helicopters, Gas Sensing Solutions, Chromacity, QMC/Sequestim, Helia, IDQuantique, Kromek, Photon Force, UK ATC, Kelvin Nanotechnology, Q-Eye Sensors, Raptor, QLM, Eliot Scientific, Dstl, PXYL. We envisage similar impacts will be achieved in phase 2.

b) QuantIC will contribute to wealth creation by enhancing business revenue and innovative capacity. This will be achieved through exploitation of scientific knowledge, leading to spin-out companies, and the creation of new processes, products and services. Tangible impacts from phase 1 of QuantIC are i) creation of 3 new companies (Sequestim, QLM and Raycal), ii) technology translation into product through licencing (Timepix chip - Kromek) and iii) ongoing development with industry of a further 12 products including "Wee-g" gravimeter, "GasSight" gas imaging camera, Fresnel cones, "SPADNet" radiation detectors, Ultra-thin lenses, Mosaic filters, "TINKIDS" Terahertz imager, Plasmonic sensor, Q-Source, Timetagger. Nine patents have been granted for QuantIC technologies and the Innovation Space has hosted industry partners such as Dstl, Chromacity, and Bridgeporth and supported a new start-up, PXYL.

c) In the second phase of QuantIC we anticipate that given our existing relationships, the larger end-user community and opportunities through the industrial strategy challenge fund we will surpass the achievements of phase 1. We will cement the UK's global reputation in the field of quantum imaging and attract R&D funding from global businesses.

d) QuantIC will also contribute to the training of skilled people for both academic and non-academic professions, addressing a key skill need in the emerging quantum technology industry.

3) General public, schools and users of technology.
QuantIC technology will impact sectors spanning healthcare, automotive, defence and national security. Better imaging system will give improved disease detection, enhanced control of driverless cars and improvements in border control and national security applications (e.g. covert imaging). The impact of enabling technologies on society and on quality of life are difficult to predict but, when realised, are transformational.
With its programme of public engagement, QuantIC will increase public understanding of science, inspire the next generation of technologists and, through its commitment to the responsible research and innovation agenda, it will contribute to the national debate around exploitation and use of quantum technology.


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