Public Engagement

Explorathon’16 returned to Glasgow on the last Friday of September at the Glasgow Science Centre and QuantIC’s researchers were on hand to showcase some of the developments on their work to the public where they were “making the invisible visible”. Proceedings kicked off with one of our researchers giving a talk on chirality at the Science Show Theatre which saw over 120 people attending to understand more about chiral rotational spectroscopy and how it could be useful in the analysis of molecules.

Explorathon Collage
QuantIC’s demonstrator on the single pixel camera showed how objects could be viewed at different wavelengths and there were some giggles from the public when they saw themselves on screen and also when some realised that materials of the clothes they were wearing became a bit see through in front of the camera! Our other demonstrator highlighted the work we were doing on sensors that could detect invisible gases such as Carbon Dioxide and how they could potentially help to detect the best time for harvesting ripe crops. Posters on “A brief early history of quantum physics” were also given away to anyone who came up to us and said, “I’m a Quantum Buddy!” and there were quite a few that evening.

The demonstrators at Explorathon also complemented QuantIC’s “Making the invisible visible” permanent exhibition at the Glasgow Science Centre which saw heavy footfall as our researchers directed them there to find out more about our work. All in all, it was a fun but exhaustive evening with our researchers engaging with more than 200 people at the event this year.

QuantIC is pleased to announce it is the UK Scientific Partner for Quantum Shorts 2016, a festival of short films that draw inspiration from quantum physics. The call for film submissions is now open and entries can be submitted until 11:59:59Pm GMT on December 1 2016 via

A shortlisting panel will select up to ten submissions to be shown by the festival’s screening partners, to including Singapore’s ArtScience
Museum at Marina Bay Sands, the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, Australia and Glasgow Science Centre in the UK. The screenings will take place in 2017. The festival’s top prize of US $1500 and runner-up prize of US $1000 will be decided by a panel of eminent judges. An additional prize will be decided by public vote on the shortlist.


Professor Miles Padgett, QuantIC’s Principal Investigator, said, “The ever-expanding field of quantum physics is fertile ground not just for scientists to explore but for artists of all kinds to provide valuable new perspectives on this strange and exciting branch of science. We’re very much looking forward to seeing how Quantum Shorts will inspire filmmakers.”

Organized by the Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore, the competition is supported by Scientific American and Nature and other scientific partners in the US, Canada and Australia.

Submissions to Quantum Shorts 2016 are limited to five minutes in length. Enter via the website at, which also features a full set of rules and guidelines and examples of previous winners.

Commercially available cameras have too many dark noise events to directly capture double-slit interference at the single photon level. However, in the research paper, “Video recording true single-photon double slit interference” (Aspden, R, Padgett, M and Spalding, G) published in the American Journal of Physics, QuantIC researchers use the detection of one photon in a time-correlated pair to herald the arrival of the partner photon at the camera. By activating the camera only when this partner photon is present, the camera noise levels can be significantly reduced. This system has enabled the improvement required for direct video imaging of Young’s double slit experiment with single photons.

Following a beamsplitter, two collection arms can detect the correlated photons emerging from the BBO crystal. The signal-to-noise ratio is improved by using the heralding detector to only trigger the time-gated intensified CCD (ICCD) camera when a time-correlated photon is due to arrive.
Following a beamsplitter, two collection arms can detect the correlated photons emerging from the BBO crystal. The signal-to-noise ratio is improved by using the heralding detector to only trigger the time-gated intensified CCD (ICCD) camera when a time-correlated photon is due to arrive.


Reuben Aspden, lead author on the research publication and part of QuantIC’s Quantum Buddies Teacher Support network, is excited about how it could be used as a teaching tool for secondary school teachers on one of quantum physics’ key experiments. He said, “It’s the first full-field image of the double slit experiment using single photons, so it is possible to see the interference pattern appearing photon by photon and extends the simple double slit experiment done in the classroom into the truly quantum world, highlighting the weirdness of single photon interference.

The full research paper and videos of the experiment can be downloaded here.

QuantIC was pleased to support the Quantum Photonics Summer School hosted by the Centre for Quantum Photonics (CQP) at the University of Bristol. Sixteen students aged between 16-22 years of age from around the UK attended the week long intensive summer school which ran from 25 – 29 July.

The Quantum Photonics Summer School celebrates light in all its form and was developed by Mr Javier Sabines, a PhD student at CQP who is also working on QuantIC research at the University of Bristol. The schedule covered a wide range of topics from Young’s Double Slit experiment and the Photoelectric effect to quantum information and quantum key distribution. Lectures were also interspersed with lab experiments and tours to find out about new research being carried out. Many of the topics have been covered in the syllabus for A Levels and the programme was designed to give students an insight about doing physics and engineering at university. In addition to this, the instructors of the summer school shared their personal experiences as scientists, providing useful tips for successful research and making the students aware of the potential career options available with a scientific degree.

Bristol Summer school collage

Feedback has been very positive from the students who attended and they would recommend attending the summer school to other students. Amy Clayton from Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School said, “The summer school has made me see how useful scientific research can be and it’s made me more inclined to pursue a career in academia. I also found it thoroughly interesting hearing about the latest discoveries and advances and I’m intrigued to read more about current scientific research.” Micha Lanez from Kingswood School in Bath added, “I learnt about many new applications of optics such as in quantum computing, communications and measurements. I never knew about most of these before the course.”

It was also encouraging to find that attendees were inspired about sharing what they learnt at the summer school. George Oxley from Churchill Academy and Sixth Form said, “There is a STEM club at school which is aimed at younger years and is run by sixth formers. Next year I will be hoping to play a bigger part in this.”

We’re looking to next year’s summer school already!

How can Quantum Physics be used in a Zombie Apocalypse? QuantIC’s researchers came up with an immersive theatrical event, “Agent Photon and the Quest for Quantum”, to engage students and the public on their research at the Glasgow Science Festival this year.
Held in a secret location within the University of Glasgow, the school kids and public who came along were met by “Professor Heisenberg” who told them they were being inducted into the Heisenberg Quantum Academy. However the induction didn’t last long as “Agent Photon” arrived seeking help with the Zombie Apocalypse outbreak taking place. What followed was a race against time to work in teams to find out more about Quantum Physics and QuantIC’s research, building gadgets to save the world and presenting them to Agent Photon, and to avoid being infected by the walking dead who were attacking Glasgow.

Quantum zombiesThe event went down very well with those who had attended, with feedback survey results indicating that all respondents had learnt something about Quantum Physics and QuantIC’s research. Most people enjoyed the interaction of building gadgets and “learning about the different experiments and figuring out how to solve a problem in a crisis”.

Quantum Vs ZombiesThe fun elements of the event were also balanced with a Quantum Physics lecture by QuantIC’s researchers which reinforced some of the experiments that were demonstrated. The session with the school kids had the additional bonus of Dr Craig Hamilton from M Squared Lasers, who had been invited along to talk about possible careers with Quantum Physics.

Most respondents wanted to spend more time building gadgets and more zombies, its food for thought for the next zombie apocalypse!

Visitors to the Glasgow Science Centre will be the first in the UK to play with quantum imaging technology as QuantIC launched its “Making the Invisible Visible” exhibition today.

The exhibits, designed by Glasgow Science Centre, bring to life some of the research being done by the Hub and also explores quantum physics,  the study of the Universe at its smallest level where the rules of classical physics do not apply; for example particles being in more than one location at the same time.

Dr Stephen Breslin, Chief Executive of Glasgow Science Centre said: “The work being done by quantum physicists will change all of our everyday lives; making us safer, healthier and will provide us with smarter technology. The QuantIC exhibition at Glasgow Science Centre is providing a window on the most advanced research being carried out in the UK.

QuantIC GSC exhibition

Some of QuantIC’s research that makes up a number of the exhibits includes “Light in flight”, “Single Pixel Camera” and “Mid-Infrared and terahertz”. Visitors will also get a chance to find out about quantum theory such as Young’s Double Slit experiment and light’s properties and what it’s like working in an optical laboratory. Judging by some of the school children’s reactions who were treated to a preview earlier this week, we hope it might inspire the next generation of quantum physicists and engineers.

Professor Miles Padgett, Principal Investigator of QuantIC, added: “QuantIC is thrilled to have been able to work with the Glasgow Science Centre team to develop an exhibition that introduces both quantum physics and our own research to the public. We are also inviting visitors to give us suggestions on what they think our technology could be used for via social media using #askquantic. Who knows, the super application for our Quantum Cameras could only be a tweet away.”

More details on visiting the exhibition can be found here.


Developing the next generation of quantum technologists is essential if the UK is to position itself as a world leader in the field and QuantIC has supported this by encouraging the learning of Quantum Physics at Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers level.

Together with the Scottish Schools Education Research Centre (SSERC), QuantIC developed a pilot Quantum Physics workshop for teachers, which was held on 26 Nov 15 at the University of Glasgow. The workshop aimed to provide a better understanding of the subject through up to date research and real life examples of quantum technology in action by QuantIC’s researchers.

Professor Miles Padgett, who led the workshop said, “It’s fantastic that quantum physics is now being taught at Higher and Advanced Higher level in Scottish schools and we’re delighted to have the opportunity to offer teachers support to develop their own understanding of what remains a challenging topic. Scientists are increasingly looking to the quantum realm to develop new forms of technology. Clearly, offering a comprehensive grounding in quantum physics to young people in their studies will be increasingly important in keeping the UK technology sector competitive with the rest of the world”.

Feedback from the workshop has been overwhelmingly positive. Over 90% of the teachers who attended the workshop rated it as “Very Good” in meeting their professional needs in the feedback evaluation survey and 95% said that it had met their requirements.

Gregor Steele, Head of Section, SSERC said, “I’m sure I speak for the whole physics teaching community in Scotland when I say we’re extremely grateful for the way that world-class academics have been willing to engage with us to support the introduction of new, exciting content in schools.”

At the request of SSERC, QuantIC will be running the Quantum Physics Teachers’ Workshop again and are also working with education bodies to develop teaching resources and support materials.

Here at QuantIC, we think it’s a good idea to get to know the team better and what we’re about and this week, we’d like to introduce you to one of our young researchers, Richard Middlemiss. Richard is currently studying for a PhD in the Schools of Physics and Astronomy, and Engineering at the University of Glasgow and is working with Dr Giles Hammond and Professor Doug Paul on QuantIC’s Wee-g, our ultra-sensitive miniature gravity sensor.

Richard Middlemiss 1

1. Can you tell us a bit more about the applied aspects of your research on Wee-g?
There are many different applications for gravimeters. They allow one to see things of different density underground. Perhaps the most ubiquitous use at present is in the oil and gas exploration industry. Although this industry is a target market for our work, the application that I’m most excited about personally is in volcanology. If you can see intrusion of magma you can aid volcanic eruption predictions. Since our devices have the potential to be so cheap, we could create networks of them around volcanoes to help predict eruptions and to negate the need for volcanologists to complete dangerous surveys with gravimeters that can’t be left in situ due to their enormous expense.

2. Have you worked with companies while doing your PhD and what was your experience like?
Yes, I have had many meetings and chats with different companies, but I’ve worked most closely with Bridgeporth Geophysics. Our contact there has had a very good understanding of the background physics/engineering of our device. This has made discussions very productive. It has meant that we have been able to keep our work focussed in a direction that will allow us to make the most useful commercial device.

3. What do you find most rewarding about your research?
The fact that I end up doing something different every day is a very rewarding part of my research – it’s what keeps me interested (I have a short attention span!). However, the most exciting part for me is seeing the progress towards tackling the applications discussed above. We are now building a field prototype, and the thought that we will be able to do real gravity surveys with a device that wasn’t even thought of 4 years ago brings a smile to my face!

4. What have you gotten out of doing your PhD with QuantIC?
Having spent three years doing the project I have a clearer idea of why it was a good decision for me to do a PhD in the first place: I have been able to push myself – and been pushed – to make the most out of my brain; I learn new skills every day; I get to work with great people with whom I can both learn and have fun.

As QuantIC’s focus is on translating research into technology applications, I have had the reward of seeing a vague idea of three years ago metamorphose into a computer model, then into broken trials, and finally into a fully functioning device with which I’ve been able to take incredibly exciting data (nothing beats a pretty graph sometimes); I have been able to apply for a patent and write papers; I have been able to travel the world to communicate my work to academics and the public; I have made a documentary, been interviewed on the news, and appeared on a chat show; I have done something different for each of the last 1,159 days of my PhD, and I’ve not been bored yet…

More information on Wee-g can be found here.


Here at QuantIC, we think it’s a good idea to get to know us better and what we’re about, so we asked our Principal Investigator, Professor Miles Padgett, to share with us his thoughts about the Hub.

Prof. Miles Padgett
Prof. Miles Padgett

1.Tell us about your role as Principal Investigator for Quantic

When setting up QuantIC we deliberately chose to separate the role of the PI from that of Director (Steve Beaumont). This allows me to focus on the Science and Technology developed in the Hub, keep abreast of developments and work with the other work package leaders to ensure our technology addresses industrial need.

2.Could you tell us a bit more about the technology that is being developed at Quantic

How do you develop cheap cameras in the infrared?  How can a camera see through smoke or fog?  How can you see around corners? How can you predict earthquakes or volcanic eruptions using a gravity sensor?  How can you image underneath the skin? In QuantIC, these are some of the questions we have answered and we are looking to take our technology to the next level by working with industry to identify more applications and new market commercialisation opportunities.

3.Where do you think this will have the most impact and how?

When we set up QuantIC we did so with over 30 letters of support from companies, both small and big across a whole range of sectors.  Our goal now is to translate these letters of support into letters of thanks.

We already have partnership projects looking at translating technology to market with companies like Selex, an international leader in electronic and information technologies, MSquared, who focus on the development and manufacture of next generation lasers and photonic equipment and ST Microelectronics, who is one of the world’s largest semi-conductor companies.

Just like the first generation of quantum technology, which gave us the semi-conductor and the laser inside devices like a CD player, we hope our technology will be as commonplace in the future.

4.What makes a good industrial collaboration at Quantic?

The elements of good industrial collaboration and good communication go hand in hand at Quantic. Listening, discussion and agreement; it’s about working together to achieve something together that neither party could do alone.

5. What is your vision for Quantic?

My vision for the hub is to revolutionise imaging systems for industry and impact society through the development of quantum enhanced cameras. That’s what it’s about. Quantic – “imaging the future”.