Glas­gow laser tech­nol­ogy busi­ness in pi­o­neer­ing nav­i­ga­tion de­vel­op­ment

The Scotsman - - Business - By PERRY GOURLEY

A Glas­gow-based laser tech­nol­ogy firm has un­veiled a new “quan­tum” com­pass that could al­low nav­i­ga­tion with­out re­ly­ing on satel­lites.

Sci­en­tists from M Squared and a team from Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don yes­ter­day re­vealed a trans­portable, stand­alone quan­tum ac­celerom- eter, the first of its kind in the UK.

Ac­celerom­e­ters mea­sure how an ob­ject’s ve­loc­ity changes over time to track its po­si­tion and although they are al­ready used in tech­nolo­gies like mo­bile phones and lap­tops, those ap­pli­ca­tions can­not main­tain their ac­cu­racy over longer pe­ri­ods.

The quan­tum ac­celerom­e­ter is able to pro­vide the pre­ci­sion and ac­cu­racy re­quired for nav­i­ga­tion by mea­sur­ing prop­er­ties of “su­per­cool” atoms.

The de­vice, which is ini­tially de­signed to aid nav­i­ga­tion of large ve­hi­cles such as ships, has been de­vel­oped by M Squared and Im­pe­rial Col­lege un­der the UK Na­tional Quan­tum Tech­nolo­gies Pro­gramme, a £270 mil­lion, fiveyear UK govern­ment in­vest­ment pro­gramme.

Graeme Mal­colm, chief ex­ec­u­tive of M Squared, said the de­vel­op­ment will help put the UK in pole po­si­tion in a rapidly emerg­ing sec­tor.

“This com­mer­cially vi­able quan­tum de­vice will put the UK at the heart of the com­ing quan­tum age. The col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­forts to re­alise the po­ten­tial of quan­tum nav­i­ga­tion il­lus­trate Bri­tain’s unique strength in bring­ing to­gether in­dus­try and academia – build­ing on ad­vance­ments at the fron­tier of science to cre­ate real-world ap­pli­ca­tions for the bet­ter­ment of so­ci­ety.” Ed Hinds, from the Cen­tre for Cold Mat­ter at Im­pe­rial, said: “I think it’s tremen­dously ex­cit­ing that this quan­tum tech­nol­ogy is now mov­ing out of the ba­sic science lab and be­ing ap­plied to prob­lems in the wider world.”

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