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UK NATIONAL QUANTUM TECHNOLOGIES PROGRAMME

TMD continues to stay at the frontiers of scientific research and development by combining its engineering and manufacturing expertise in partnership with research and development companies and universities.

A good example of this is our collaboration with academic and industry partners to realise the commercialisation of Quantum 2.0 Technologies.

The areas being addressed are: compact atomic clocks where the aim is to produce rugged rubidium and caesium products with 10-14 performance which will better any currently available competitor; compact frequency stabilised lasers where the current alternatives are large laboratory rigs which require constant attention and tuning; and compact magneto optical traps which have a wide range of applications from cold atomic clocks, to a range of ultra-sensitive inertial and gravitation sensors. Our partners include Chronos Technology Ltd, Universities of Bath, Strathclyde and Glasgow, Kelvin Nanotechnology Ltd, Optocap Ltd and Fraunhofer UK.

Why is this work important?

Since the advent of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), implemented by the USA DoD as the Global Positioning System (GPS), which became widely available in 1994, the global distribution of sub microsecond accuracy time reference signals has enabled a revolution in the use of technologies that depend on this to function.

The very ubiquity of this has resulted in substantial dependence on the availability of the GNSS signals. Due to the low level of the GNSS signals and the widespread application of low cost GPS chips it is easy to jam or interfere with the signal. The defence sector has become as dependent on GNSS for timing as the commercial sector, in which both the telecoms and banking industries are heavily reliant on precision timing. Many defence systems are GNSS dependent both for their own functionality and also for their ability to communicate with other systems, and consequently many critical systems are now vulnerable to GNSS jamming and spoofing attacks.

Quantum clocks developed in the Quantum 2.0 programme (together with the other related hardware) have the potential to provide a valuable alternative and backup to GNSS systems – used as either stand-alone timing solutions on a platform or as ‘hold over’ clocks should the GNSS signal become unavailable.

In recognition of our close involvement with the programme, TMD was invited to attend the Quantum Technology Showcase in London in November last year, where together with our partners we were able to demonstrate some of our recent prototype assemblies.