Industry News

QuantIC has just returned from a successful exhibition at Photonics West. The event saw more than 23,000 registered attendees this year, making it the biggest Photonics West to date. With hundreds of product launches and live demonstrations, as well as the staggering number of technologies on display, the exhibition floor was a continuous hive of activity.

The Hub presented some of its imaging components internationally for the first time and it attracted a lot of interest from attendees. Dr Steven Johnson, who was exhibiting as a QuantIC exhibitor for the first time said, “Photonics West was good to attend and there was a lot of interest, from both industry and academic. There was a lot of discussion on the SPAD array; this is clearly sought after.”

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QuantIC also co-hosted a whiskey tasting reception with the British Consulate and the Scottish Optoelectronics Association at the UK Pavilion and this also helped to foster more networking opportunities with industry.

Quantum technology was also very much on the agenda at Photonics West with some of the conference proceedings focused on areas such as advanced quantum and optoelectronics applications.

Dr Michael Fletcher, QuantIC’s Business Development Manager said, “It is clear that industry is increasing its use of quantum technologies across a growing range of markets. In particular there was increased interest in single photon detection arrays for a variety of applications ranging from LiDAR systems through to lifetime fluorescence spectroscopy. We had good footfall at our stand and continued to raise our profile by being here. I think this bodes well for future collaborations when we enter the second phase of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme.”

QuantIC, the UK Quantum Technology Hub in Quantum Enhanced Imaging, will be exhibiting its latest imaging prototypes and associated components at Photonics West, from 5-7 February 2019 in San Francisco. Now in its 25th year, the event is the largest and most influential annual photonics technologies showcase in North America with over 21,000 attendees, two exhibitions and 1,300 exhibiting companies.

QuantIC components PW19

Some of the QuantIC imaging components that will be on display for the first time include the Ge on Si SPAD, a low-cost detector that extends the wavelength range of the silicon detector into the infrared to improve imaging through fog and smoke, Indipix, a mid-infrared imager based on a unique indium antimonide technology that can detect specific gases and Wee-g, a compact ultra-stable Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) based accelerometer capable of measuring tiny changes in the gravitational field and find buried objects. The team will be available for technical discussions to explore potential new opportunities to collaborate and commercialise quantum imaging technologies.

Principal Investigator Professor Miles Padgett said, “QuantIC’s vision has been to exploit the potential of Quantum science and translate it into emerging technologies. The prototypes and components we’ve developed are the first steps to the further commercialisation opportunities with industry”. Professor Padgett has also been invited to speak at Photonic West and will be presenting a paper on “Beating classical imaging limits with entangled photonics on 5 Feb.

QuantIC will be at Stand 5159 as part of the UK Pavilion at Photonics West.

For more information on Photonics West, visit

This year’s National Quantum Technologies Showcase in London was the best one yet with more attendees and exhibits and QuantIC was on hand with many demonstrators that were being exhibited for the first time to industry including the Hub’s Germanium on Silicon Single-Photon Avalanche Detector and Computational Photon Counting LiDAR system.

Images from QT Showcase 2018. Photo credit: Dan Tsantilis
Images from QT Showcase 2018. Photo credit: Dan Tsantilis

QuantIC researchers who had exhibited at previous events also noticed the buzz around quantum technologies this year. Dr Johannes Herrnesdorf, who was exhibiting his technology project with Clyde Space on LED based transceivers on nanosatellites said, “Having attended all four Quantum Showcases, I felt that there was a clear evolution throughout the years, with this year’s showcase being the best so far. The layout of the exhibition space was very good, and the structure of the event allowed a continuous flow of visitors to come to our stand throughout its duration. Interest remained high until late on a Friday”. Also echoing the sentiment was Dr Vincenzo Pusino who was exhibiting the Indipix sensor. He said, ”I felt the event really grew over the years, and so did the interest of the people attending, especially now that many of the showcased technologies are getting closer and closer to being ready for commercial exploitation. Our exhibit was well attended and we made many contacts which will hopefully translate in future collaborations”.

Over 700 people attended the National Quantum Technologies Showcase this year, the largest number of visitors to date. Expectations will certainly be higher next year, which will coincide with the mid-point of the ten year national quantum technologies programme.

QuantIC was excited to be involved in “Photonics Meets Real World Applications”, a joint doctoral training careers workshop for the EPSRC CDTs in Photonic Integration & Advanced Data Storage, Applied Photonics, and Intelligent Sensing & Measurement last week in Glasgow. The event, was an opportunity for CDT students to foster collaboration with industry and academic partners to foster collaboration and also provided them insight into knowledge transfer practices and working in industry.

Richard Middlemiss CDT Workshop

Dr Richard Middlemiss, one of QuantIC’s researchers, was invited to speak at the event where he shared his experience on Wee-g, from taking it out of the labs and closer to commercialisation by working at Kelvin Nanotechnology. He said, “At the workshop I gave a talk on my experiences of working on an R&D project I have been working on for the last 6 years – the development of a new type of sensor for imaging things underground (e.g. magma under volcanos). Recently I spent 9 months on secondment with a nanotechnology company – KNT. It was an interesting experience to see the contrast of how industry and academia approach the same problem.”

The event, which was attended by 60 PhD students from universities across Scotland and Belfast, also saw QuantIC industry partners such as M Squared Lasers, Compound Semiconductor Technologies, Leonardo and KNT speaking about careers in the different sectors, including quantum technologies, where photonics is expected to play a leading role.

Robert Hadfield

QuantIC and University of Glasgow researcher Professor Robert Hadfield has been awarded  a Royal Society  Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship  to support his pioneering work on superconducting detectors, the world’s most sensitive detectors for infrared light.

Professor Hadfield has developed some of the world’s most sensitive detectors for single light quanta – photons – and deployed these detectors in a range of important emerging applications, including quantum cryptography, atmospheric remote sensing and dose monitoring for laser cancer treatment. The Fellowship will enable him to spend the next year concentrating in furthering his research in this field.

In addition to the Fellowship, Professor Hadfield has also been awarded a visiting professorship at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm under the Swedish Wallenberg Centre for Quantum Technology  where he is developing links for research collaboration. He said, “I am delighted to have received these prestigious awards.  This is a fantastic opportunity to explore new research avenues and strengthen our international links.  I am looking forward to contributing strongly to the next phase of QuantIC and the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme.”

More information on Professor Hadfield’s Superconducting Nanowire detector with QuantIC can be found here.

Professor Hadfield’s research profile can be found here.

The Committee, which exists to ensure that government policy and decision-making are based on good scientific and engineering advice and evidence, were up in Glasgow last Thursday 28 June for a formal oral evidence session on the committee’s inquiry into quantum technologies. Quantum technologies have been selected by the Government as one of fourteen ‘core industrial challenges’ to be tackled and the inquiry was launched early 2018 by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee to address the opportunities and challenges for quantum technologies.

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Following a written submission from QuantIC to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, the Hub was asked to host an oral evidence session in connection with its inquiry which focussed on the next phase of the National Quantum Technologies Programme, and what was needed to support the UK’s quantum industry going forward.

In conjunction with the event at Kelvinhall, QuantIC also exhibited a number of demonstrators such as Wee-g, Indipix and the Multiplexed Single Photon timing Fluorescence system in advance of the session to the committee and also to the public, who had the opportunity to attend. Attending committee members, Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, Bill Grant MP, Stephen Metcalfe MP and Carol Monaghan MP were “immensively impressed” with what they saw and our “inspiring” researchers.

QuantIC director, Professor Steve Beaumont said, “There is a rich network of collaborative relationships between academia and industry in developing quantum technologies in Scotland and I think the message came across loud and clear to the committee that there are still further opportunities to explore.”

A recording of the oral evidence can be viewed here.

The precision of measuring nanoscopic structures could be substantially improved, thanks to researchers at QuantIC and the University of Warwick. Using pairs of photons, fundamental components of energy that make up light, the researchers have devised a way to measure the thickness of objects that are less than a 100,000th of the width of a human hair. The new technique involves firing two near identical photons onto a component known as a beamsplitter, and monitoring their subsequent behaviour – with some 30,000 photons detected per second, and 500bn in use throughout a full experiment.

Because of the tendency of identical photons to ‘buddy up’ and continue travelling on together — the result of a delicate quantum interference effect – the researchers’ newly developed setup offers the same precision and stability as existing one-photon techniques that, due to the equipment required, are more costly. Offering a range of potential uses, including research to better understand cell membranes and DNA, as well as quality control for nanoscopic 2D materials of a single atom’s thickness, such as graphene, the new research is also a marked improvement on current two-photon techniques with up to 100x better resolution.

Set up of two photon technique for measuring nanscopic structures.
Set up of the two photon technique for measuring nanscopic structures.

To measure the thickness of a transparent object (any object through which a photon is able to pass), each of a pair of identical photons are fired along separate paths:

• Photon A then continues into a beamsplitter, whilst Photon B is slowed down by a transparent object before entering the same beamsplitter.
• The likelihood that the photons exit the beamsplitter together is then recorded allowing researchers to measure the thickness of the transparent object Photon B passed through.

As the thickness of the sample is increased, the photons are more likely to exit the beamsplitter separately.

Dr George Knee of the University of Warwick’s Department of Physics, who developed the theory behind the new method, said,”What’s really exciting about these results is that we can now investigate objects down at the nanoscale with an optical sensor operating on a fundamentally different physical effect.Until now, so-called two-photon interference has not been able to achieve such great resolution, meaning that we are stuck with some of the downsides of the established methods based on single-photon interference – which requires more expensive technology than our new two-photon technique.”

QuantIC co-investigator and lead researcher on the project at the University of Glasgow, Professor Daniele Faccio, whose two photon sensing technology was used to generate the data said, “The results of our collaboration with the University of Warwick offer a range of potential uses in areas such the life sciences, optics and nanofabrication. We are excited to be advancing quantum imaging and helping to maintain the UK’s position in the development of new quantum technologies.”

The research paper, Attosecond-Resolution Hong-Ou-Mandel Interferometry, is published by Science Advances and can be accessed here.

QuantIC’s Professors Robert Henderson and Daniele Faccio were involved in organising the 1st International SPAD Sensor Workshop (ISSW) with Ecole Polytechnique Federal De Lausanne which took place 26-28 February 2018 in Les Diablerets, Switzerland. The workshop which focussed on the study, modelling, design, fabrication and characterisation of SPAD sensors, welcomed more than a hundred participants including many industrial attendees.

ISSW WorkshopPhoto

Professor Robert Henderson, who is guest editor of an MDPI special issue on the workshop said: “There’s been a growing interest in the field driven by Lidar but there was no forum specifically for SPADs, covering devices, technology and associated applications so the ISSW was organised to bridge the gap to further SPAD development between academia and industry.”

The workshop had a good turnout from industry and companies that presented included ArgoAI, SensL, TowerJazz, and Fastree3D. ST Microelectronics and Austria Microsystems also made product announcements on their multi-zone time of flight sensors. Universities that presented at the workshop included EPFL, Politecnico di Milano, Cornell, Stanford and UCLA. Professors Henderson and Faccio also presented their QuantIC research on SPADs for FLIM and Imaging at the speed of light respectively.

Feedback on the 1st ISSW has been wholly positive and there are plans to organise the next workshop, which will take place biennially, in Scotland. Watch this space.

Former QuantIC researcher from the University of Bristol, Xiao Ai, has started up Quantum Light Metrology (QLM), which has developed a drone mounted, quantum sensing solution capable of remotely detecting and quantifying minute methane leaks. This work was supported by QuantIC, an Impact award and the Quantum Technology Centre (QTEC) at the University of Bristol. The start-up has received funding from Innovate UK and has partnered with ID Quantique and Sky Futures on this venture.


Xiao Ai, founder and Chief Technology Officer at QLM said, “After 4 years of post-doc research developing Laser Radar Lidar for atmospheric sensing of Carbon Dioxide, I realized, that to reduce carbon emission, we first needed to understand the sources and locations of anthropogenic emissions. QLM’s laser radar is capable of remotely detecting and quantifying the lowest leak rate required by the Oil and Gas industry, out to a 150-metre operational distance. This brings a 10-fold sensitivity improvement over our closest competitor, which enables a significant performance improvement in scanning and imaging capabilities.”

QuantIC’s Professor John Rarity co-developed QLM’s technology and is also involved as Chief Scientific Officer. He said, “QuantIC’s input was invaluable as it enabled the continuous funding of this work to develop the first demonstrator buffering that critical gap between academic research and commercial realisation”.

In purely economic terms, methane leaks from well-heads and pipelines cost the Oil and Gas industry between $6bn and $30bn a year. In the US, methane leaks from the natural gas and petroleum industry are now the number one source of methane emissions, surpassing livestock digestion and landfill. Although it is found in much lower concentrations than carbon dioxide, methane is around 25 times more potent, meaning that it still accounts for 28 percent of the amount of warming caused by carbon dioxide.

QLM’s technology is lightweight, low-powered and capable of delivering an unprecedented 30 miles per hour surveying speed when mounted on a drone. This has potential, especially in the Oil and Gas industry for a better understanding of emissions that could result in cost effective mitigating strategies and improved health and safety measures for the sector.

QuantIC wishes QLM all the best!

For more information, visit

QuantIC Professors Giles Hammond and Robert Henderson have been made Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE). Professor Hammond is Professor of Experimental Gravitational Physics at the University of Glasgow while Professor Henderson is Personal Chair of Electronic Imaging in the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Edinburgh. They are two of 66 new Fellows elected to the RSE this year.

RSE Academics

The RSE is a leading educational charity which operates on an independent and non-party-political basis to provide public benefit throughout Scotland. Established by Royal Charter in 1783, the work of Scotland’s National Academy includes awarding research funding, leading on major inquiries, informing public policy and delivery events across Scotland to inspire knowledge and learning. The Fellows come from a wide range of disciplines, including the arts, business, science and technology and academia.

Professor Hammond’s work in QuantIC focusses on Wee-g, a MEMS based accelerometer capable of measuring tiny changes in the gravitational field which has generated significant industrial interest of commercialisation. More info on Wee-g can be found here.

Professor Henderson’s work in QuantIC focusses on QuantICAM, a CMOS SPAD which offers both single photon sensitivity and high precision time of arrival detection. This has applications in areas such as time-of-flight 3D imaging, positron emission tomography and time-resolved live-cell microscopy. More information on QuantICAM can be found here.