We are addressing scientific challenges in the field of quantum-enabled sensors and metrology to deliver unprecedented levels of sensitivity and precision in the application of quantum systems in sensing, biomedical imaging and metrology.

There is a rapidly developing industry based on new sensing technologies and the internet of things, for instance, Google’s purchasing of Nest Labs. Quantum-enabled sensors also form a key element in the United Kingdom’s quantum technology initiative.

To capture the critical scientific questions to be addressed, we have developed the following grand challenges to define our research direction:

  • Realise sub-cellular, in vivo, imaging in real time with microsecond time-resolution using biocompatible nano-particles and spin manipulations.
  • Use quantum mechanical coherence to produce enhanced sensing technologies with unrivalled performance.
  • Achieve new field and force sensing regimes using arrays of quantum-controlled mechanical oscillators.

Our research breakthroughs include the achievement of the first quantum enhanced measurement of a biological system, allowing nanoparticles to be tracked inside a living cell with quantum-enhanced precision and probing the nanoscale structure of the cell, which can provide information about both cell health and function. 

We developed the world’s only research program focussed on the use of nanodiamonds as hyperpolarized contrast agents in medical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for early detection of diseases, proving the suitability of nanodiamonds for such. We recently created a new technique to map out field distributions with a single nanodiamond spin over a macroscopic distance, an enabling technology for non-invasive probing of biological systems.

We created a range of quantum-control techniques and devices towards this end. As one example, we have proposed a novel quantum photonic crystal sensor that promises unrivalled performance for strain sensing and chemical assays with exceptionally low power and high bandwidth.


Last updated 24 August 2015
Last reviewed 6 July 2015

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Major funding support

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