Aquark’s Unique Technique For Generating Cold Atoms Achieved by University of Birmingham

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Blue laser lights on stage
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Insider Brief

  • Scientists from the University of Birmingham have successfully tested a new technique for generating cold atoms.
  • The technique was developed by Aquark Technologies.
  • The unique laser cooling method, which it refers to as Supermolasses, does not require an applied magnetic field.

PRESS RELEASE — Scientists from the University of Birmingham have successfully tested a new technique for generating cold atoms, developed by Aquark Technologies. Aquark’s unique laser cooling method, which it refers to as Supermolasses, does not require an applied magnetic field. This will ultimately make cold matter platforms more portable and robust and therefore easier to use commercially. The tests at University of Birmingham are the first time that Supermolasses has been independently achieved and were carried out as part of an Innovate UK funded project, Gravity Array.

Gravity Array, funded by Innovate UK (Project: 10032699), is a collaboration between Aquark Technologies and the University of Birmingham and combines the ground-breaking “supermolasses” atom cloud generation with the expertise in quantum sensing of gravity at the UK Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Timing. The project aims to deliver a unique new capability where, breaking with convention, a single laser and control system can be used to operate several low-power sensor heads – enabling sensors to be located in remote or harsh environments, while drastically reducing the cost of the overall monitoring activity.

Working closely with Dr Chester Camm, Dr Alex Jantzen and Dr Andrei Dragomir at Aquark Technologies, the University of Birmingham team of Mr David Sedlak, Dr Sanaz Roshanmanesh, Dr Yu-Hung Lien and Prof. Michael Holynski were able to generate the first supermolasses not obtained by Aquark Technologies staff, successfully trapping atom clouds without applied magnetic fields.

The team are now continuing to characterise and independently assess the technique, before combining this with other approaches to realise a low-power sensor head with a plan for trials in late 2024. These aim to further demonstrate the Aquark Technologies’ Supermolasses technique and other innovations from the project in a practical setting, with a view to applications in areas such as border control, infrastructure and environment monitoring, covert monitoring, and energy.

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Aquark Technologies Co-Founder and CEO, Dr Andrei Dragomir, speaking about the project said: “Gravity Array is an incredibly exciting opportunity for Aquark as it demonstrates not only our strong desire to collaborate with the best, but also looks to utilise some of the new capabilities that makes our method of atom cloud generation unique and independently verify its benefits.”

Professor Michael Holynski, Principal Investigator of the UK Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Timing  and project lead of the Gravity Array project from the University of Birmingham, added: “It is fantastic to see progress on techniques that have potential for reducing the cost of quantum sensor systems. This work, made possible by funding from Innovate UK as part of the National Quantum Technologies Programme, has achieved first steps in validating techniques that could reduce the electrical power and operational needs of quantum sensors. This progresses along the Hub roadmap towards distributed sensor networks over large areas for applications such as environmental monitoring and monitoring of remote or hazardous locations.”

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Matt Swayne

With a several-decades long background in journalism and communications, Matt Swayne has worked as a science communicator for an R1 university for more than 12 years, specializing in translating high tech and deep tech for the general audience. He has served as a writer, editor and analyst at The Quantum Insider since its inception. In addition to his service as a science communicator, Matt also develops courses to improve the media and communications skills of scientists and has taught courses. [email protected]

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