Compact atom interferometry based gravity gradiometry using novel techniques.

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


Quantum sensors offer considerable promise in realising exceptional sensitivity and robustness against environmental noise such as vibration. In the domain of gravity sensing, this has the potential to offer disruptive capability in the rapid detection of buried or hidden objects or features, such as pipes, tunnels, or in future hazards such as IEDs or mines. Recent work within the field has focused on a push towards improving technology readiness, and demonstrating the use of quantum sensors in the field, with the University of Birmingham performing field trials of gravity gradiometers.

A particular challenge remains in realising quantum technology devices of size, weight, power and cost commensurate with applications on small UAVs - for example for use in challenging environments or to detect hazardous targets such as IEDs. This project focuses on the development of techniques for the reduction of size, weight and power for quantum technology gravity gradient sensors. The aim is to enable a physics and systems concept for a gravity gradient sensor within less than 50l volume, 10kg and 100W of power while mitigating impacts upon performance, and to apply these techniques to a demonstrator under construction at the University of Birmingham. The student will be trained on atom interferometry quantum sensors for gravity gradient sensing and in experimental techniques in control, laser, photonics and vacuum technologies. They will study novel physics concepts such as to enable a 10-fold reduction in laser power.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R511845/1 01/10/2017 31/12/2022
2146568 Studentship EP/R511845/1 01/10/2018 31/03/2022 Hester Thomas