Monthly Archives: November 2016

Keith Brown MSP, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, officially opened QuantIC’s Innovation Space during a visit to the University of Glasgow yesterday.

Mr Brown was given a tour of the space and was shown some of QuantIC’s collaborative projects which were jointly exhibited by the Hub’s researchers and industry partners. The 200 square-meter Innovation Space, which was made a reality with support from the Scottish Funding Council, was purpose-built to make it as simple as possible for QuantIC researchers to work with academic partners, offering custom laboratory and office space on flexible schedules.

Minister Visit Collage

Mr Brown said: “I am delighted to launch the Quantum Innovation Space, which will create a place and space for companies to connect at an early stage with researchers to collaborate and innovate on projects related to imaging technology. A thriving economy is only made possible by having a business base which is willing and able to innovate. I wish all the university and business partners involved in QuantIC every success in driving forward research, increasing innovation and growing Scotland’s economy.”

John Kemp, interim chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: “This innovative addition to Scotland’s research base is already making productive connections with the pioneering quantum technology industry. SFC is delighted to support this exciting innovation space and I look forward to seeing more companies benefit from collaborations with QuantIC’s researchers.”

Professor Miles Padgett QuantIC’s principal investigator, said “Less than two years since it was officially launched with an event at the Glasgow Science Centre, QuantIC has made strong progress both commercially and academically. We have forged relationships with more than 70 companies and published close to 60 research papers, and raised an additional £9.2m to support research and exploitation activities. The UK is home to some of the world’s best quantum imaging researchers and we’re proud that QuantIC is helping to commercialise their work for the benefit of the UK economy.”

Professor Gerald Buller who is from Heriot Watt University, was awarded his Fellowship ‘for pioneering work in single-photon detection and applications of single-photon technology in three-dimensional imaging and quantum communications’. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Institute of Physics (IoP) and sits on the IoP’s Quantum Electronics and Photonics Group Committee.


Professor Buller’s research interests are mainly associated with single photon detection and its applications, including quantum key distribution, quantum imaging, time–of–flight ranging and depth imaging. He also has wider interests in semiconductor optoelectronic devices and optical thin film multilayer structures.

Founded in 1916, The Optical Society of America (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and business leaders who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Fellows of The Optical Society are members who have served with distinction in the advancement of optics and photonics.

Professor Buller will receive his Fellowship plaque at the CLEO 2017 conference in California in May 2017.

Here at QuantIC we like to profile our researchers and find out a bit more on what they are working on and today we’re doing a quick five minutes with Aurora Maccarone, one of our PhD students at the University of Heriot-Watt. Aurora recently won the Best Student paper presentation at the conference on Emerging Imaging and Sensing Technologies, part of the international SPIE Security and Defence Conference held in Edinburgh in September this year. Aurora’s paper was entitled “Depth imaging in highly scattering underwater environments using time-correlated single photon counting”. She has recently submitted her PhD thesis.

Aurora Maccarone_Web

What were you investigating for your PhD?
During my PhD I investigated the potential of a single-photon depth profiling system for imaging in highly scattering underwater environments. This scanning system measured depth using the time of flight and the time correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) technique.

Laboratory-based depth profiles measurements were performed in different scattering conditions. The operational wavelength was adapted to the scattering level of the environment in order to optimise the transmittance of light in water. High-resolution image re-construction was demonstrated for targets placed at stand off distances equivalent up to nine attenuation lengths, using average optical power in the sub milliwatt range. This is an important result because other techniques allow to image with a monostatic optical system at standoff distances equivalent up to approximately 7-7.5 attenuation lengths, using optical power levels of the order of 10s mW.

Can you tell us a bit more about the applied aspects of your research?
In open ocean environments, nine attenuation lengths are equivalent to approximately 90 metres, while in a harbour environment means few metres. Therefore, this technique can be used for several purposes, including defence and civil engineering. In civil engineering this system can provide a useful tool for studying broken pipes, or also for ship inspection, just to mention two examples. About the detection of broken pipes, I think that more investigation should be done. During our experiments, we were able to observe some small bubbles on the surface of the target, therefore it could be the case that it is possible to detect gas leaking. However, more studies should be done on this. At the last SPIE conference in Edinburgh several companies showed interest in this research, mainly for defence purposes due to the nature of the conference.

What have you found most rewarding about your research?
What I found most rewarding was facing a new challenge at every step of the project, which gave me the possibility to investigate different topics. There are still several investigations to perform, and for sure this is pushing me to go on in this field beyond my PhD. This will involve mainly testing and optimising a submerged scanning unit, in order to investigate natural environments. So far the system was used in controlled conditions, therefore it will be interesting to test the system in a real scenario.

QuantIC researcher Animesh Datta and his group at the University of Warwick recently published two papers on measuring multiple parameters simultaneously – something seemingly prohibited by quantum mechanics, which moves forward thinking on the future of quantum enhanced imaging.

Animesh said, “Today, a picture taken by a camera on a typical smartphone can consist of more than 10 megapixels. This is the reality of modern-day cameras and imaging. The ability of record millions of pixels simultaneously will therefore be expected to be a necessary part of any future imaging technology as a matter of course. And that includes quantum enhanced strategies. Measuring (or estimating) multiple parameters simultaneously, however, is fundamentally limited by quantum mechanics. It is one of the characteristics that sets quantum mechanics apart from classical physics.”

QuantIC researchers (clockwise) - Christos Gagatsos, Dominic Branford, Animesh Datta
QuantIC researchers (clockwise) – Christos Gagatsos, Dominic Branford, Animesh Datta

In Multi-parameter quantum metrology (M.Szczykulska, T.Baumgratz, A.Datta), published in Advances in Physics: X, Animesh looks at the simultaneous quantum estimation of multiple parameters and reviews the rich background of quantum-limited local estimation theory of multiple parameters that underlie these advances and discusses some of the main results in the field and its recent progress. In Gaussian systems for quantum-enhanced multiple phase estimation (C.N. Gagatsos, D. Branford,  A. Datta), published in APS Physical Review A, he shows that using suitably designed quantum probe states (for instance, of light) not only can one circumvent some of the limits that were thought to be inviolable, but also obtain improved performance as compared to estimating the parameters individually.

He added, “The results show that Nature is more subtle than anticipated. While we can trick Nature to allow us to estimate multiple phases (say pixels) simultaneously, Nature now seems to tie our hands as to how well we can do. Using only Gaussian states, which are most easily and routinely generated in laboratories by lasers and down-converters, there is only a factor-of-2 improvement.” This factor-of-2 improvement appears to be a fundamental limit in the estimation of multiple phases simultaneously and shows that quantum enhanced imaging necessitates a deeper understanding of the quantum properties of Nature itself.

To read the paper on Multi-parameter quantum metrology, click here.

To read the paper on Gaussian systems for quantum-enhanced multiple phase estimation, click here.