Public Engagement

As part of the remit for responsible research and innovation, QuantIC took part in an EPSRC commissioned research to understand the public’s perceptions and values in relation to the capabilities of quantum technologies currently under development in the UK, and to also understand any concerns, aspirations and priorities that they might have for the future  development and deployment of quantum technologies. The public dialogue workshops were organized in locations where the network of UK quantum technology hubs were based and QuantIC actively fielded its researchers to participate in the sessions held in Glasgow.

QT Public Dialogue Collage

An interim activity between the workshops was also organized for the respondents and this consisted of a personalised after hours tour of QuantIC’s “Making the invisible visible” exhibit at the Glasgow Science Centre. The Hub’s researchers also brought in demonstrators specially and this allowed the respondents to visualise how the research had evolved into a new technology and the potential applications and uses it offered. The respondents’ feedback on the interim activity indicated that the event had boosted their interest in quantum technologies with comments such as “It was very interesting to see things visually as well as in theory” and “Really enjoyed this evening. I have a better understanding of quantum”.

Judging by the reactions from the public dialogue workshops in Glasgow, it seemed that respondents were positive to the capabilities of quantum technologies being developed as part of the UK National Quantum Technology Programme and QuantIC is looking forward to the final report on the public dialogue which will be published by EPSRC.

The Quantum Shorts flash fiction competition had a record number of entries when it closed the call for entries on 1 Dec 2017.

Quantum Shorts 2017-Ver2

The shortlisting panel members of the Quantum Shorts flash fiction competition have read thousands and thousands of words across hundreds of stories to choose the shortlists and we are thrilled to announce ten finalists in the competition’s open category and eight in the youth category, coming from writers around the world. Each story takes inspiration from quantum physics, is no more than 1000 words long, and includes the phrase “There are only two possibilities: yes or no”.

All of these writers have already won prizes – with more awards to be decided by our distinguished judges. Now it’s time for you to help someone get even more reward for their writing. You can vote in the People’s Choice prize from now until 23:59 GMT on Thursday 15 February. The story that gets the most support will win a People’s Choice prize of $500.

Click on this link to read all the shortlisted entries and vote for your favourite!

Happy reading!!


“Novae” has won the top prize in this year’s Quantum Shorts film festival which is organised by the Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore. QuantIC is the UK Scientific Partner of the event.

The film, created using shots of ink in an aquarium set up in filmmaker Thomas Vanz’s garage shows what happens when a giant star explodes, moving through the phase of “supernova” to the formation of a black hole. Understanding these processes is widely considered essential to creating a much-needed theory of “quantum gravity” that fills in the blanks left by relativity and quantum physics.

The runner up film and also the People’s Choice winner, “The Guardian” by Dr Chetan V. Kotabage, tells of a love triangle between young people – electron, wave and particle – and its dramatic consequences. The film’s narrative and staging bring to life some of the central concepts of quantum physics.

Quantum Shorts Event Collage

Both films were screened at the UK Premiere of Quantum Shorts, which was held at the Glasgow Science Centre’s Planetarium, on 17 March.The event was organised as part of British Science Week 2017 and the Glasgow Short Film Festival. QuantIC’s Professor Miles Padgett hosted the evening and took the audience on a whistle stop tour of some of the quantum theories such as entanglement and wave particle duality, which inspired the top ten shortlisted films. Guests were also given the opportunity to view QuantIC demonstrators on display.

The Hub also hosted a pre-screening industry reception in partnership with Glasgow City of Science and Innovation and Technology Scotland. Entitled “The Art of Possible”, the event was an opportunity for over 30 guests from the creative, government, business and academic sectors to find out more about quantum technologies.
Feedback from both the screening of Quantum Shorts and The Art of Possible were very positive with survey responses indicating attendees had learnt something about quantum technologies and QuantIC. This audience member’s comment sums it up, “What a great evening! Thanks QuantIC!”.

Watch Novae here.

Watch The Guardian here.

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.