Sheffield gets £2.5 million to support revolutionary quantum technology research

Quantum chip

Quantum technology researchers at the University of Sheffield have received more than £2.5 million to fund projects that could revolutionise computing and communications.

The new grants from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) come as the University launches its new Quantum Centre, which brings together the expertise of more than 50 researchers who are working on quantum technologies. Professor Maurice Skolnick, a Fellow of the Royal Society, will serve as the Director of the new Quantum Centre, which will develop quantum technologies and applications ranging from computing and communication to sensing and imaging.

The new centre pulls together expertise from the Low Dimensional Structures and Devices group in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and the National Epitaxy Facility in Sheffield led by Professor Jon Heffernan.

Professor Skolnick said: "The Sheffield Quantum Centre has been formed recently to bring together the expertise at the University in Quantum Photonics, Advanced Materials growth and Quantum Information theory into one unified whole. It is expected to provide a new forum for cross-fertilisation of ideas and to seed new research directions."

 An official launch event for the Quantum Centre will take place in the Autumn.

The new quantum technologies grants in Sheffield include £1.4 million that has been awarded to Professor Alexander Tartakovskii to initiate collaborative research into light-matter interactions in quantum nano-materials with the Technical University of Dortmund. In addition, £1.2 million that has been awarded to a team of University of Sheffield researchers through EPSRC's new Quantum Technologies Research Hubs.

The team of Professor Maurice Skolnick, Professor Mark Fox and Dr Luke Wilson from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Professor Jon Heffernan from the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, have received funding through the Quantum Communications Hub, led by the University of York.

Their £1.2 million grant will support the hub's goals of using the quantum properties of light to make communications more secure, and is one of three pots of hub funding awarded to Sheffield's Physics and Astronomy researchers.

Dr Pieter Kok has been awarded an additional £600,000 through the Quantum Communications Hub, and Dr Earl Campbell has been awarded £130,000 through the Hub in Quantum Computing and Simulation, which is working towards building a functioning quantum computer.

Alongside this, Professor Tartakovskii's £1.4 million grant will continue Sheffield’s ground-breaking research into novel quantum nano-materials. The project will study light-matter interactions in atomically thin 2D materials, cuprous oxide and semiconductor quantum dots. This will provide novel insights into the fundamental quantum properties of these materials, and help to develop applications in quantum computing and telecommunication technologies.

This funding came through EPSRC's International Centre-to-Centre scheme. The project will see Sheffield's Professors Alexander Tartakovskii, Dmitry Krizhanovskii, Maurice Skolnick, Mark Fox, Jon Heffernan and Dr Luke Wilson working with Professor Manfred Bayer at the Technical University of Dortmund.

Professor Tartakovskii said: "We have now a great opportunity to work together with one of the leading German research groups working in condensed matter physics. The new funding will allow many exchange visits between Sheffield and Dortmund and unprecedented access of researchers to the leading experimental facilities at the two centres.”]

Quantum technologies, for which Sheffield have received very significant new funding, are at the forefront of the scientific exploration worldwide and in the UK. EPSRC's four new Quantum Technologies Research Hubs have been allocated £94 million to support collaborations between 26 universities.

Funded projects will explore technologies that will allow fire crews to see through smoke and dust, computers that can solve previously unsolvable computational problems, construction projects to image unmapped voids like old mine workings, and cameras that will let vehicles 'see' around corners.

Science Minister, Chris Skidmore said: "Harnessing the full potential of emerging technologies is vital as we strive to meet our Industrial Strategy ambition to be the most innovative economy in the world.

"Our world-leading universities are pioneering ways to apply quantum technologies that could have serious commercial benefits for UK businesses. That's why I am delighted to be announcing further investment in Quantum Technology Hubs that will bring academics and innovators together and make this once futuristic technology applicable to our everyday lives."