Funding success: qHAM - Commercialsing Quantum Technologies

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Close-up view of atomic sieve used for the generation of a focused quantum gas jet.
Close-up view of atomic sieve used for the generation of a focused quantum gas jet.

Earlier this year Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, announced that it will invest up to £1 million in innovation projects through a competition funded through the Commercialising Quantum Technologies programme of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), part of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme.

Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas. The aim of the competition was to stimulate the commercialisation of quantum technologies in the UK through the development of early-stage quantum technology opportunities. Last week, it was announced that a project from the QUASAR Group on the Development of a quantum gas jet-based helium atom microscope (qHAM) was successful in securing funding within this scheme.

qHAM builds up directly on a novel gas jet monitor technology that the Group has been developing for different particle accelerators for more than a decade, most recently for the High Luminosity upgrade of the LHC. In qHAM, sub-µm focused beams of helium atoms will be used for non-destructive, high resolution and high contrast surface morphology studies for soft, fragile and insulator samples, as well as samples with complex topography.

qHAM is based on two quantum phenomena: Wave-matter duality and matter wave interference. These will be used to generate a strongly-focused quantum helium gas jet. The project will involve Drs Oznur Apsimon, Narender Kumar, Joe Wolfenden, Hao Zhang and Professor Carsten P Welsch.

Business development manager Constantinos Astreos said: “Some quantum phenomena offer exciting prospects for technology innovations with outstanding market potential. The Innovate UK funding offers an excellent opportunity to develop a compact, low cost and table-top microscope with superior imaging capabilities in close collaboration between experts from the physics department and innovator D-Beam. The project will enable critical proof-of-concept studies.

The project will be carried out in collaboration between the QUASAR Group and Liverpool spin out company D-Beam Ltd, a graduate from the STFC CERN Business Incubation Center and recognised STFC and EU success story.