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Support for photonic component development in latest UK quantum projects

22 Jun 2022

£6 million program to commercialize quantum technologies backs quantum PICs, lasers, SPADs, and entangled light sources.

The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding body has allocated £6 million aimed at further developing quantum technologies, with several of the 16 projects supported relating to photonic components directly.

UKRI is hoping that the projects will advance the commercialization of quantum technologies, with applications in secure communications, novel imaging methods, sensing, and computing.

“Building on the success of previous funding rounds these 16 projects have identified clear market opportunities for quantum technologies in the UK and have outlined an innovative project to help exploit it,” announced the organization.

“These projects are connecting companies from across the UK and will help to build and sustain the exciting quantum network developing in the UK as products move to market.”

New APDs for methane imaging
One of those companies is Bristol-based QLM Technology, whose single-photon lidar approach is able to image emissions of gases including carbon dioxide and methane - meaning that leaks of the greenhouse gases can be identified and addressed more quickly than is currently possible.

Under the latest project funding, QLM will work with the University of Sheffield spin-out Phlux, which is working on new AlGaAsSb-based avalanche photodiodes (APDs) for lidar, to improve its methane detection cameras.

Several other projects see money provided for the development of key photonic components that will underpin commercial quantum applications.

These include “Q-Pods”, which aims to reduce the size, weight, power and cost of an optoelectronics module to drive magneto-optical traps used in several UK quantum projects, by integrating all the essential components into a single ruggedized package.

Bay Photonics is leading that effort, in a collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), and will also lead the “PADME” project to deliver a high-performance, compact, and reliable source of entangled photon pairs.

Quantum PICs
Meanwhile the Glasgow-based Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics (CAP) - which has just celebrated its tenth anniversary - will support Alter Technology, TUV Nord UK, and ColdQuanta as they develop new compact, robust and reliable lasers to enable the deployment of quantum technologies in harsh and dynamic environments.

Fraunhofer CAP will also collaborate on efforts to develop two new light sources - one a field-ready, turn-key solution for a variety of applications, and the other a benchtop demonstrator of an entangled photon source for potential use in small-scale satellites.

Cambridge spin-out Nu Quantum will take the lead on the “Medusa” project, aiming to develop and commercialize integrated quantum photonic technology aimed at computing applications, with support from the University of Oxford and communications giant Cisco Systems.

Another Cambridge spin-out, Wave Photonics, is heading up the “Quantum Photonic Integrated Circuit Packaging” (QPICPAC) effort, which aims to develop a design guide and packaging process for rapid and cost-effective packaging of quantum PICs.

US-based ColdQuanta will work with Cisco and London-based ORCA Computing on the development of laser-cooled photonic quantum memory systems, with a view to building a commercially scalable platform.

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