UK to invest £6m in quantum computing

UK Research and Innovation issued £6 million ($7,3 million) in grants to 17 projects to tackle fundamental research questions with quantum technology.

Quantum Technologies for Fundamental Physics program, funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, is designed to understand the universe better via quantum computing, imaging, sensing, and simulations.

“The new grants continue to support the UK research community in exploring the diversity of quantum technology applications for fundamental science, from neutrino mass studies to searches for violations of fundamental symmetries of nature,” professor Grahame Blair, STFC Executive Director, Programmes, said.

Vera Guarrera from the University of Birmingham, a co-investigator for one of the projects, said that the grant would allow them to take a fundamental step toward the realization of an atomic clock based on californium highly-charged ions.

“This grant will allow us to realize a very cold crystal of laser-cooled calcium ions, where we will implant a highly-charged ion of an element called californium. The crystal will be used to decrease the temperature of the highly-charged ion close to absolute zero, a process known as sympathetic cooling. [...] Such a unique clock is expected to realize the most sensitive detector worldwide of ultra-light dark matter,” she said.

One of the projects, quantum sensing for antimatter gravity (QSAG,) seeks to test whether antimatter and matter have the same gravitational interactions.

“This is achieved by measuring the effects of gravity on positronium, a unique system composed of an electron (matter) bound to a positron (antimatter) in a hydrogen-like atom. QSAG will employ (anti)matter-wave interferometry using highly-excited (Rydberg) states of positronium to measure the effects of the Earth’s gravity field and thereby perform the first direct measurement of antimatter-gravity.”

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