Enabling a quantum future

24th September 2020

A new spin-out company named Aquark Technologies has been set up by UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing researchers to miniaturise quantum sensor components enabling them to be integrated into real-world environments, building on the Hub’s aim to bring quantum technology to everyday lives.

Aquark Technologies was recently set up by Dr Andrei Dragomir, Research Fellow from the University of Southampton, a partner university of the UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing, which is led by the University of Birmingham.

Reducing the size, weight, cost and power of quantum sensors is essential in realising a quantum-enabled future. Researchers have been working hard since the Hub’s inception in 2014 to strike the perfect balance between designing compact, robust technology which still retains the necessary accuracy and sensitivity.

A significant portion of this Hub research took place at the University of Southampton, where a team of researchers, including Dr Andrei Dragomir, and led by Dr Matthew Himsworth, worked to miniaturise the vacuum component in sensor systems which typically holds cold atoms. Once miniaturised, this component acts as the platform for quantum sensor technologies.

It is testament to their considerable expertise and knowledge that the researchers soon found a way to develop a cold atoms platform system without depending on magnetic fields. This meant that the device could independently operate in virtually any environment, opening up a huge range of application opportunities: monitoring treacherous ground conditions, developing non-invasive medical imaging and even detecting geological conditions from space. The device created was also small enough to fit into the palm of a hand, making it portable and within reach of everyday use.

Aquark Technologies was set up to further develop and explore opportunities arising from this miniaturised ‘plug-and-play’ device, particularly in terms of bringing it to day-to-day life, and helping to create a more safer, and more resilient world. The company’s ambitious aims have received considerable attention – Dr Dragomir recently won a place on the prestigious Seraphim Space Camp, an intensive 10-week accelerator programme dedicated to rapidly growing space technology start-ups.

Dr Andrei Dragomir said: “Being part of the UK National Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology [first phase of the Hub] was an incredible experience. We received knowledge and support that accelerated our research and allowed us to get to a point where we can consider a spin-out.

“During some of our meetings as part of the Quantum Technology Hub we listened to talks on IP (Intellectual Property) protection, the quantum technology market, the potential of the technology and even on the idea of creating a start-up, which contributed to my own motivation to commercialise our inventions. Not to mention that being part of that community brings immense value to research through partnerships.”

To find out more about Aquark Technologies, visit the University of Southampton’s Future Worlds website.