TOPological optimisation of technologies for high-bandwidth atomic Gravimetry Used in Navigation Systems

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


Navigation solutions can be made independent of satellite communication if, for example, real-time measurements of the earth's gravitational profile can be matched to known values on a map. For this, an absolute gravimeter is needed that can be transported and operated in real-world environments.

TOP-GUNS aims to accelerate quantum navigation sensors into real-world positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) applications. TOP-GUNS is motivated by pressing issues that presently impede the operation of quantum navigation sensors exposed to real-world environments and will enhance the robustness and size, weight, power consumption and production cost (SWaP-C) of quantum navigation sensors used in precision positioning and navigation service; especially while the satnav service is unavailable or interrupted. TOP-GUNS will demonstrate and deliver solutions to these issues through a series of technology innovations and initial trials, including simulation platforms.

The TOP-GUNS project will exploit major successes of the UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Timing and focus on current critical research challenges. In overcoming these, the results of this project will allow the deployment of quantum navigation sensors on moving platforms, ranging from land and aviation vehicles to vessels, ships and subterranean applications.

We propose the development of a gravimeter that employs a hollow-core-guide beam and therefore is more robust against transport vehicle lateral movement, which can result in a loss of contrast. To improve the portability of the gravimeter we employ innovative methods to create high-fidelity magnetic field shielding and coils - this is based on advanced optimisation methods to deliver state-of-the-art magnetic field shaping and switching systems that integrate complex coil geometries with conductor networks formed in multilayer PCBs. The creation of a 3D-printed UHV chamber that is topologically optimised to minimise eddy currents induced by magnetic field control sequences enables a substantial reduction in size and weight. These methods will enable an ultra-compact system that is robust against environmental noise and in addition lends itself to mass manufacturing.

TOP-GUNS will bring innovative research to the UK quantum navigation community and provide the edge required for the UK to maintain its leading role in quantum and alternative PNT. Furthermore, TOP-GUNS' multifaceted industrial partnerships, including end users and supply chain developers, will greatly benefit the dissemination of research results and the establishment of the quantum and alternative navigation industrial ecosystem, extending from components to systems.

Our results are therefore essential for the development and exploitation of gravitational profile maps.


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