GG-TOP: Gravity Gradient - Technologies and Opportunities Programme

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

Abstract

Gravity measurements exert a particular fascination ranging from the everyday experience of feeling the gravitational force holding us on ground to the mysteries of general relativity and space time. Compared to other forces gravity is surprisingly weak, making shielding of gravitation practically impossible. Gravity measurements are ideally suited to look deep inside the ground and they have been used for over 100 years in fields as oil and mineral exploration, underground mapping and climate research. However, although gravity measurements are highly valued, there are some drawbacks in terms of long and tedious measurements and geological noise. GG-TOP responds to an increasingly pressing demand for a holistic development programme driving sensitivity of instrumentation, modelling instrument and geological noise, discriminating underground objects, fusing and presenting the information from multi-sensor systems.
The GG-TOP consortium is truely multi-disciplinary uniting fundamental and applied physicists, civil and electrical engineers and archaeologists behind a joint goal. GG-TOP has a strong Stakeholder compontent with interactions at all levels and potential users directly influencing the research programme. GG-TOP will explicitly evaluate the potential of its new technology in applications as diverse as urban infrastructure (pipes, cables...) and void (cellars, tunnels,..) mapping, seabed inspection, archaeology and fundamental tests of physics.
We anticipate the outcome of this programme to be a technology suite adaptable to various needs and leading to a range of follow-on product development programmes.

Planned Impact

Unusually for a research grant that advances fundamental science and technology, GG-TOP presents a strong and direct pathway to impact. Exploration of the underground profoundly affects us all. The ground is a resource - a supplier of natural materials and even energy - and it houses much of the infrastructure on which society depends; GG-TOP will assist in identifying the resources, and highlighting difficulties associated in securing them, as well as illustrating how our underground space might optimally be used.
Its first impact is therefore assisting in understanding, with far greater precision, the ground since density variations provide the clue to the presence of natural resources, their disposition and the natural hazards (e.g. sinkholes and loosening / softening of sub-strata) that the ground might present [Geological Sciences and Mineral Resources industries impacted]. Moreover there are parts of the ground that are difficult to access and thus explore and the technology, which can be classified under the broad banner of geophysics, complements existing technologies for underwater, seabed and similar offshore exploration [Marine Science and Engineering impacted].
That ground is an exploited resource, for a variety of reasons, throughout human history is well known and precision in revealing the legacy of this anthropogenic activity provides the second major impact. The results of previous mining and quarrying are typically highly detrimental to the stability of the ground (many urban areas are still plagued with the unexpected effects of such working of the ground which cruder current technologies are unable to detect with adequate precision), while humankind has deliberately buried, or allowed to become buried, our history [Engineering Geology and Archaeology impacted].
The ground equally provides the stable foundation for what is built on it (buildings, structures) and in it (tunnels, basements, caverns), and developments in the discovery of hidden hazards such as voids and loose ground bring major economic and social benefits [Geotechnical and Structural Engineering impacted].
Moreover, we have used the ground beneath our roads to bury the utility pipelines and cables that provide the essential services to our urban areas and the records of previous burial, some being >100 years old, are incomplete and inaccurate; GG-TOP provides an additional location technology to complement current developments and facilitate trenchless and minimum dig technologies in place of trenching [Utility Service and Road Engineers impacted].
In the quest to create more sustainable urban environments there is a strong push to use underground space more extensively, thus relieving the surface for green space (trees, natural habitats to maximise biodiversity) and greater aesthetic uses; GG-TOP provides a complementary technology for underground space mapping, revealing where space might be safely, effectively and beneficially used [Urban Planners and Developers impacted].
In addition GG-TOP will have considerable impact on science at the most fundamental level [Physics and Space Research impacted]. The new high-sensitivity developed by GG-TOP will pave the way for experiments enhancing our fundamental understanding of nature. GG-TOP will help to open a new window to interrogate space time fluctuations and test quantum gravity theories. Testing quantum gravity at the low energy scale is a novel route to consolidating quantum mechanics with Einstein's general relativity, the most fundamental problem of our time.
GG-TOP would be an important ingredient to ensure that the UK plays a strong role in these.
 
Description Main developments are rugged and mobile cold atom precision measurement systems.
We also learned a lot about practical issues with gravity measurements in the field.In particular the outcomes point at gravity gradiometers providing key benefits to civil engineering applications as opposed to gravimeters.
Exploitation Route This is a program working on demonstrating uses of cold atom precision sensors for gravity in Civil Engineering and Archaeology. These systems open up a view into the ground and might have impact ranging from detecting pipes and historical artefacts to oil and mineral exploration and climate research.
We are also collaborating with companies to transfer our practical knowledge in gravity sensing and to improve their measurement procedures.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Construction,Education,Energy,Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Security and Diplomacy,Transport

 
Description So far our findings have been used to inform potential commercial partners about the potential of our technology. These partners are mainly construction and ground surveying companies, but incluse also climate researchers, defence, exploration companies and transport companies. As a result we have been able to win over 30 companies from these areas in support of the UK National QT Hub in Sensors and Metrology and are now running over 18 industry-partnership projects in this area. The instrument developed in this project has been further refined and is now serving in a field demonstration campaign in collaboration with the NERC satellite laser ranging station in Herstmonceux, in order to evaluate the potential of quantum technology gravimeters in Earth coordinate system definitions.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Construction,Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy,Transport
Impact Types Economic

 
Description British Science Festival, Birmingham 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Raised interest in the public about cold atoms research

Interesting discussion with individuals about our research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description From Bohr to Quantum Sensors, RAL Lecture, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Didcot, Oxfordshire, 27 June 2013 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The presentation generated a lively discussion

Request for further information
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Poster Presentation - : Precision Timing (and Navigation) Technology - Advances in chip scale clocks, quantum sensors and photonics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The presentation generated a lively discussion

Further request to return to update the group on progress
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Poster Presentation, International workshop on, Geodesy with Inertial Quantum Sensors. Hannover, Germany. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The presentation generated a number of discussions and questions

Further invites for updates were obtained
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Presentation of the cold atom system to the ICT 2013 Lithuania 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The presentation sparked a lively debate

N/k
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Quantum Gravity Measurement Using a Cold Atom Trap International Topical Conference on Plasma Science: Advanced Plasma Concepts Faro 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The presentation generated a lively discussion

n/k
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Quantum Sensing Technology, Lunch and Learn Meeting, Geoprober Drilling Altens Industrial Estate, Aberdeen, 14 Feb 2013 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The presentation generated questions and discussion

n/k
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Quantum Sensing with Subsea Applications, ESA Space Meeting, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Didcot, Oxfordshire, 26 June 2013 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The presentation generated lively discussion

n/k
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Recent Developments in Quantum and Gravitational Physics with Tests from Deep Subsea to Outer Space, 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The presentation generated discussion and questions

n/k
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Stand and Poster display at the Oil and Gas Industry conference 1st November 2012 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact GGtop had a stand at the conference with information about each work stream displayed on posters, the team also engaged with delegates explaining some otf the more technical aspects of the project

The team were able to add a significant number of delegates to the contact list for further information now and also how the project progresses going forward
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Stand at TEC66, Hastings 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Showcased cold atoms work to the vacuum community

Fruitful discussions about future collaborations with companies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.tec66.co.uk
 
Description Theoretical and Experimental Development of Quantum Sensing Methodology, 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The presentation generated a lively discussion

n/k
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description When Quantum and Gravity Meet in the Lab, Deep Subsea, and in Space, Physics and Astronomy Colloquium, University of St Andrews, 1 Mar 2013 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The presentation generated questions and discussions

n/k
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description YAO conference, poster presentation, 10th April, University of Birmingham. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The presentation generated discussions and questions

A request to return and update progress
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013