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1.6 Million Euros for Research on Quantum Technologies

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Leibniz University Hannover receives BMBF funding

Great success for junior researchers at Leibniz University Hannover: the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has awarded 1.6 million euros of funding from the Quantum Futur programme to foster the establishment of a junior research group in the field of quantum technologies. The QuIS-g group from the Institute of Quantum Optics at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics will develop new systems in the field of quantum-based navigation.

The BMBF funding programme Quantum Futur supports junior researchers who want to establish a research group and aim to develop new approaches to innovation, thus encouraging the development and implementation of new technologies. The QuIS-g project will receive funding from 1 August 2018 to 31 July 2022. It is one of approximately ten projects in Germany that receive funding from the Quantum Futur Grant in the latest round of calls for proposals.

In the years to come, the QuIS-g group will study technologies for innovative navigation systems. By using GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems, such as GPS) on our mobile phones, we can determine our geographical position at all times. However, GNSS technology has its limits. For example, signal loss or errors may occur when driving through street canyons, mountainous areas or tunnels. This may lead to inaccurate positioning or make positioning entirely impossible. Inertial navigation systems are considerably more reliable because they work autonomously and factor in additional data such as the starting point of the device, acceleration, and rotation rates in all three spatial directions. By using these data, a device can determine its current position. Inertial navigation technology is already the norm in the aircraft industry. However, instrumental errors occur even with the best devices resulting in position uncertainties after autonomous navigation. Within the framework of the QuIS-g project, researchers will study new systems for quantum-based inertial navigation (QINS).

By using quantum-based sensors, QINS can measure acceleration and rotation rates more accurately and provide stable readings over an extended period of time. This reduces positioning errors significantly allowing for accurate position calculation - even after hours of autonomous operation without an external signal. QINS can be used in self-driving cars, rescue helicopters or space probes that operate beyond the reach of GNSS coverage. With sufficient sensitivity, QINS combined with GNSS could measure gravitational changes and therefore detect reservoirs.

Previous concepts for quantum-based inertial sensors predicated on measurements of atoms in free fall. This poses enormous challenges: increased acceleration or high rotation rates may result in signal loss, which limits the range of application in practice. Therefore, the QuIS-g project uses guided matter waves, which provide a signal even though the measuring device encounters increased acceleration or high rotation rates.

Note to editors:

For further information, please contact Dr Dennis Schlippert, Institute of Quantum Optics (Tel.: +49 511 762 2845, Email: