Posted on October 18, 2019 by staff

£4.6m to propel UK quantum technology forward


A University of Strathclyde-led quantum technology partnership, which is aiming to develop some of the world’s most powerful computers, has secured funding worth a total of £4.6m.

Researchers at Strathclyde and photonics and quantum technology company M Squared are collaborating to develop advanced computing technology, which could strengthen banking security, enhance traffic management and support aerospace security.

The partners aim to work with FinTech and aerospace businesses to deliver significant advancements in the UK’s quantum capabilities.

Where more conventional computers operate on a binary system of zeroes and ones, quantum computers work on a system of qubits, which can be zeroes and ones simultaneously.

As the number of qubits increases, the power of these computers rises dramatically, with each additional atom doubling the computers capacity.

The new project is targeting 100 qubits, offering more computational power than even the largest available supercomputer.

The research has gained £2.6m in Prosperity Partnership funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of UK Research and Innovation, while M Squared has invested a further £1.7 million, and Strathclyde has contributed £300,000.

Future applications of the technology developed in this partnership include accelerated drug design for improved healthcare, novel materials for aerospace and manufacturing and the speed-up of optimisation problems including improved efficiency in across the National grid.

Prosperity Partnership grants are awarded to projects that build links between the UK’s research base and leading industry partners.

The project will complement the work of the UK-wide Quantum Technology Hubs, which explore the properties of quantum mechanics and how they can be harnessed for use in technology. Strathclyde is the only university which is a partner in all four of the hubs.

Strathclyde’s lead in the Prosperity Partnership project is Dr Jonathan Pritchard, a Research Fellow in the University’s Department of Physics.

He said: “We are really excited to have secured significant funding to develop this new experimental platform, which is currently not supported within the quantum technology hubs but which offers the potential to be truly disruptive in its ability to scale in future to extremely large numbers of qubits.

“This is great opportunity, both for Strathclyde and for the UK as a whole, to establish new capability by working directly with global leaders in supplying commercial laser systems to quantum computing activities.

“This project will develop a new platform for quantum computing, based on scalable arrays of neutral atoms, and will work together with partners from industries including security and defence, aerospace and fintech to establish applications where this new quantum computer can deliver advantage.”

Dr Graeme Malcolm, CEO and founder at M Squared, added: “This partnership with the University of Strathclyde is a demonstration of the scientific community harnessing the enormous benefits of collaboration between world-leading research institutions and advanced industry in the quest to develop frontier technologies.

The funding announcement follows the recent opening by M Squared of a quantum research facility, based in Strathclyde’s Inovo building in Glasgow City Innovation District.