Monthly Archives: March 2016

Researchers at QuantIC have adapted widely-available technology found in smartphones to make a small, low cost ultra-sensitive gravimeter for the first time. Named “Wee-g”, the device uses the same mass produced micro-electromechanical systems (MEMs) which are used in  smartphones’ internal accelorometers and uses a silicon spring ten times thinner than a human hair which has allowed it to detect very small changes in gravity.This offers a wide range of applications, including volcano monitoring, environmental surveying and oil exploration.


In their paper, “Measurement of the Earth tides with a MEMS gravimeter” published in Nature today, QuantIC’s Dr Giles Hammond, Richard Middlemiss, Antonio Samarelli, Professors Doug Paul, Jim Hough and Sheila Rowan explain how their research and development led to Wee-g being the first device able to measure the Earth Tides because of its incredible stability and how this potentially could positively impact industry.Co-author Richard Middlemiss said, “There are a lot of potential industrial applications for gravimeters, but their cost and bulkiness have made them impractical in many situations. Wee-g opens up the possibility of making gravity measurement a much more realistic proposition for all kinds of industries: gravity surveys for geophysical exploration could be carried out with drones instead of planes; and networks of MEMS gravimeters could be places around volcanoes to monitor the intrusion of magma that occurs before an eruption – acting as an early warning system.” Potential industry sectors where Wee-g’s technology could deliver a competitive advantage include oil and gas exploration, civil engineering, environmental monitoring and volcanology, navigation, aerospace and security and defence.

The team is currently working to make Wee-g even smaller and more portable and are keen to build on industrial partnerships to exploit the device commercially. QuantIC also has a Partnership Resource Fund to support industry led projects on Wee-g. For more information, please contact QuantIC’s Business Development Manager, Dr Michael Fletcher.

The paper, titled ‘Measurement of the Earth tides with a MEMS gravimeter’ is published in Nature and is available here.




Industrial collaboration at QuantIC has gotten off to a flying start in 2016. The Hub has awarded three more partnership resource grants which have been evaluated by the industry led Market Opportunities Panel. The projects are:

  • Wee-g: Field testing a miniaturized MEMS gravimeter – Bridgeporth supported by University of Glasgow
  • UAV mounted Terahertz imager development – Lockheed Martin UK supported by University of Glasgow
  • Novel approach to seeing around corners – Thales supported by Heriot Watt University
    Please find more details of the projects below:

    Wee-g: Field testing a miniaturized MEMS gravimeter

    The University of Glasgow has built and tested a laboratory based Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS) gravimeter – Wee-g.

    The MEMS device is small and offers the potential for the best cost to performance ratio of all commercially available gravimeters. The sensitivity shown in the laboratory is comparable to best in class devices but has to be shown to work in the field before it will attract investment.

    There has already been industrial interest shown in the Wee-g and the advice is that its control/readout electronics have to be re-packaged in order for field tests can be undertaken.

    This project has three objectives:

    – to develop an early stage mobile prototype of the MEMS gravimeter which currently exists as a laboratory prototype, TRL level 3,

    – to field test the gravimeter and compare its performance against an industry standard gravimeter on either an exploration project or against a known gravitational anomaly

    – to identify areas for design improvement to develop a full demonstrator

    Bridgeporth have offered to test the MEMS device in the field and to undertake comparative testing against a standard commercial gravimeter. The results of the project will be used to inform the design for a full demonstrator which will also incorporate quantum sensing interferometer techniques to further improve noise performance and device sensitivity.  This project is in line with work package three of the QuantIC programme.

    This project is being led by Dr. Giles Hammond and his team from the University of Glasgow.


    About Bridgeporth

    Bridgeporth is a specialist geosciences company founded in 2011 by a small team of highly qualified geoscientists with a combined experience of over 100 years. Bridgeporth was set up to provide specialist geoscientific services for a range of national and international operators in oil and gas exploration, mining, hazard mitigation, research and media industries. For more information, visit


    UAV mounted Terahertz imager development – Lockheed Martin UK supported by University of Glasgow

    Food security is one of this century’s key global challenges. By 2050 the world will require increased crop production in order to feed its predicted 9 billion people. Applying just the right amount of irrigation to plants at the right time under the direction of terahertz imaging technologies could play a crucial part in sustainable intensification of crop production.

    This project explores the feasibility of developing a CMOS based, low cost and easy to manufacture terahertz imager to be mounted on a micro Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) for the measurement of plant characteristics such as water content. The University of Glasgow has already developed a sensor that uses metamaterials design on a CMOS chip which has been shown to operate at terahertz frequencies and it requires further development and testing before industrial investment can be attracted.

    The study will review the key design criteria for the sensor and also consider the implications and operational limitation of UAV integration with a view to developing, integrating and testing a terahertz imaging system on a micro UAV in a future follow on project.

    Lockheed Martin UKhas established connections with the agricultural industry, which is seen as a growth sector for UAV technology and through this bring extensive knowledge of the market and user requirements. Lockheed Martin UK and the University of Glasgow propose providing presentations of the findings, to new and existing contacts within the Agricultural sector with a view to identifying appropriate routes to market. This is aligned to work package four of Quantic programme.

    Lockheed Martin logo

    About Lockheed Martin UK

    Lockheed Martin UK, headquartered in London, is the UK-based arm of Lockheed Martin Corporation, a global security and aerospace company. Lockheed Martin UK specialises in the development, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The company employs more than 3,000 people in the UK across 21 sites, working on a wide range of major programmes spanning the aerospace, defence and civil sectors. For additional information, visit our website:


    Novel approach to seeing around corners – Thales supported by Heriot Watt University

    This feasibility study aims to further the understanding of the design criteria for a novel imaging system which can be used to detect and determine the source of motion around corners. Heriot Watt University has already demonstrated such a system over short distances, less than a meter, utilizing an ultra-high speed camera with a localised array of SPADs. Thales has identified this technology as potentially offering a competitive advantage in several industry sectors but for most applications, it will be necessary that the technology works at considerably greater stand-off distance.

    Thales, together with Heriot Watt University now wish to determine the feasibility of using a new distributed pixel approach to improve its performance over longer distances of 5 to 10 meters and beyond. A successful demonstration will form the basis of a phase two project to further develop a robust field demonstrator.

    In this project Thales will bring its considerable expertise and track record in the design of imaging systems to develop mathematical and computer based models and Heriot Watt University will build and test the prototype systems. The project is aligned to work package 1, imaging with correlation and work package 2, imaging with timing, of the QuantIC work programme.

    This project is being led by Professor Daniele Faccio and his team from Heriot Watt University.


    About Thales

    Thales is a global technology leader for the Aerospace, Transport, Defence and Security markets. With 61,000 employees in 56 countries, Thales reported sales of €13 billion in 2014. With over 20,000 engineers and researchers, Thales has a unique capability to design and deploy equipment, systems and services to meet the most complex security requirements. Its unique international footprint allows it to work closely with its customers all over the world. For more information, visit


    Physics & Astronomy 06

    QuantIC is excited to announce the launch of a new studentship programme and is recruiting for up to ten fully funded industrial studentships in quantum imaging. Students will be based at one of the QuantIC partner universities (Glasgow, Strathclyde, Edinburgh, Heriot Watt, Bristol, Oxford and Warwick) and will work in collaboration with industry to deliver innovative technological solutions to the market.

    Professor Miles Padgett said, “The studentship programme is an exciting new development for QuantIC. We’re taking steps in developing a new generation of quantum engineers and what’s more, our industry partners have been in touch with us to see how they can be involved in this new initiative to develop the emerging quantum technologies landscape.”

    If you are a physicist with an interest in technology, an engineer with an entrepreneurial flare, or a theorist with an interest in applied problems, join QuantIC now and help us shape the future of imaging technology.

    Entry Requirements

    Places will be awarded on a competitive basis. Applicants must have a 1st class or 2.1 degree at MPhys or MEng level (or equivalent) from a computing, mathematical, physical sciences or engineering programme. Exceptional candidates with BSc or BEng qualifications will also be considered.

    To apply, please submit your CV with a cover letter indicating why you are interested in the studentship.

    Closing date for applications is Fri 13 May 2016.

    To submit an application or to make informal enquiries, please contact Sara Diegoli at


    Steve Beaumont Award

    QuantIC’s Director, Professor Steve Beaumont was awarded the “Outstanding Contribution to Knowledge Exchange” at the inaugural Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards held in Edinburgh on 25 Feb 2016. The event was organised by Interface, a knowledge hub which connects businesses from all sectors to Scotland’s 23 higher education and research institutes.

    Steve has been an ambassador for knowledge exchange and enterprise throughout his career, which spans academic and business achievements.

    As former Vice-Principal for Research & Enterprise at University of Glasgow, his commitment to the enterprise agenda led to the foundation of Kelvin Nanotechnology Ltd and Compound Semiconductor Technology Ltd and he also created the Glasgow Knowledge Exchange Fund, which was set up to encourage and facilitate knowledge exchange activities across the University of Glasgow.

    In recognising Steve with this award, the judges acknowledge an individual who has played a pivotal role in knowledge exchange in Scotland and his outstanding track record and selflessness throughout his career in supporting entrepreneurship and innovation. Huge congratulations to Steve from everyone at QuantIC!