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QuantIC’s Professor Daniele Faccio joins HRH The Duke of Cambridge, BBC Presenter Kirsty Wark and Chief Scientific Advisor to HM government, Sir Mark Walport as one of 60 distinguished individuals elected to be Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE).

Daniele Faccio
Daniele Faccio

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. There are around 1600 Fellows from a wide range of disciplines, including the arts, business, science and technology and academia.

Professor Faccio, who is part of the Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences at Heriot-Watt University said, “I’m extremely honoured to have been elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and look forward to engaging with my new colleagues and being part of such a prestigious and important academy”.  He was also recently awarded the prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize to further research in the field of photonics and technologies related to light. His work in QuantIC focuses on the Hidden Object Tracker, a camera system which can detect images around a corner or behind a wall.

For more information on the Hidden Object Tracker, click here.

QuantIC’s Principal Investigator and one of the University of Glasgow’s leading researchers has received a major award in recognition of his contribution to optical physics. Professor Miles Padgett, has been named as the recipient of this year’s Max Born Award from The Optical Society.


Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional association in optics and photonics, home to accomplished science, engineering, and business leaders from all over the world. The Max Born Award, which has been presented by the OSA since 1982, is named in honour of distinguished optical physicist Max Born and is presented to a person who has made outstanding contributions to physical optics, theoretical or experimental.

According to Professor Padgett’s official citation, the Optical Society chose to present him with the award in recognition of ‘contributions to optics and especially to optical momentum, including the optical spanner, the use of orbital angular momentum in communication systems, and an angular form of the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox.’

Professor Padgett said: “I’m pleased and proud to receive the 2017 Max Born award from The Optical Society. I’m joining a very distinguished group of researchers and I’m inspired to be in their company.

“As principal investigator for QuantIC, the UK’s quantum imaging technology hub, I’m also working with other talented researchers in academia and industry to bring innovative new imaging systems to market. It’s a very exciting time to be working in this field.”

New technology from QuantIC which could offer the oil and gas industry a cheaper way to visualise methane gas is taking one step closer to becoming commercially available. In a paper published in the journal Optics Express, researchers from QuantIC and Scottish photonics company M Squared Lasers describe how they have used a technique called single-pixel imaging to create real-time video images of methane gas in a typical atmospheric setting.

While gas imaging technology has been commercially available for some time, current systems are expensive, bulky and power-hungry. Single-pixel imaging uses just one light-sensitive pixel to build digital images instead of using conventional multi-pixel sensor arrays, which can be prohibitively expensive for infrared imaging. This allows the researchers to build a much smaller, cheaper gas detection system.

QuantIC's new gas imaging system which offers the potential of low-cost, real-time detection of methane gas leaks. The top row shows movie frames from a low-resolution (16x16) computational image of a gas leak, overlaid onto a high-resolution color image from a CMOS camera. Only the methane gas is detected (red), when 0.2 liters per minute of methane are delivered via the green tube and 2 liters per minute of nitrogen are delivered from the red tube. The bottom row shows movie frames where a methane gas sample cell is moved by hand across the field-of-view. Credit: Graham M. Gibson, University of Glasgow
QuantIC’s new gas imaging system which offers the potential of low-cost, real-time detection of methane gas leaks. The top row shows movie frames from a low-resolution (16×16) computational image of a gas leak, overlaid onto a high-resolution color image from a CMOS camera. Only the methane gas is detected (red), when 0.2 liters per minute of methane are delivered via the green tube and 2 liters per minute of nitrogen are delivered from the red tube. The bottom row shows movie frames where a methane gas sample cell is moved by hand across the field-of-view. Credit: Graham M. Gibson, University of Glasgow

The scene in front of the sensor is illuminated using a sequence of infrared patterns created using a laser tuned to 1.65μm, the absorption wavelength of methane, and display technology commonly found in digital data projectors. Using sophisticated sampling techniques to correlate the projected patterns and the gas, the researchers can create a real-time, coloured coded, image of the gas overlaid on an image of the scene using a conventional colour camera.

The collaboration between QuantIC’s researchers at the University of Glasgow and M Squared Lasers aims to bring a range of new sensing technologies into the market. The global gas sensing market was estimated at $1.78 billion in 2013 and is expected to be worth $2.32 billion by 2018, offering an attractive opportunity for new technology.

University of Glasgow’s Dr Graham Gibson, lead author of the paper, said: “Our detector allows us to produce images which refresh 25 times a second, equivalent to the standard frame rate of video, which provides a highly accurate real-time picture of the scene in front of the detector. Working with M Squared Lasers, with the support of QuantIC, has been of immense benefit to the project. M Squared’s advanced laser systems allowed us to effectively ‘tune in’ to the wavelength of methane gas, and opens up the possibility of using the system to detect other types of gases in the future.”

Nils Hempler, head of M Squared Lasers’ innovation business unit, said: “Close collaboration with QuantIC has helped M Squared to identify and create lower cost, compact, greatly improved imaging solutions that are suitable for a range of industries.We’re keen to continue our collaboration to bring this project to market and to build on this foundation to create single-pixel sensors capable of detecting a wide range of other sources.”

The team’s paper, titled ‘Real-time imaging of methane gas leaks using a single-pixel camera’, is published in Optics Express and is available here.

QuantIC took another step towards increasing its international and industry profile by exhibiting for the first time at Photonics West 2017.

Photonics West Blog

As part of the exhibit, QuantIC brought along a prototype of the Gas Sight Camera which is collaboration between the Hub and M Squared Lasers and combines state of the art laser systems with single-pixel infrared cameras based on the same technology found in a data projector.

Dr Matthew Edgar, was one of QuantIC’s researchers who was representing QuantIC at the event. He said, “Photonics West 2017 has to be one of the biggest exhibitions on the planet for cutting edge Physics and in particular Optics research. Our stall on the Scottish section has been attracting hundreds of visitors and gaining lots of attention from companies who want to commercialise quantum imaging technologies. We are very lucky to promote such incredible science which is emerging from the Hub.”

QuantIC’s Gas Sight Camera was also “entangled” at Photonics West as industry partner M Squared Lasers also brought along a prototype to highlight as one of its new technologies and industrial collaboration. QuantIC Photonics West 2The Hub is now looking to exhibit at Laser World of Photonics in Munich in June.

More information on Gas Sight is available here.


The Energy and Industry Minister Jesse Norman MP visited QuantIC at the University of Glasgow on Monday 23 January as part of the launch that day of the UK Government’s vision for a modern industrial strategy, a Green Paper which includes references to science, research and innovation.

Mr Norman, a minister in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, was welcomed by the Principal Professor Anton Muscatelli; the Head of the College of Science and Engineering Professor Muffy Calder; Professor David Cumming, Co-Investigator at QuantIC; and Dr Sara Diegoli, Project Manager at QuantIC.Jesse Norman visit

The Minister was shown examples of QuantIC’s technologies including Wee-g, Gas Sight, the hidden object tracker and the superconducting nanowire detector as Professor Cumming explained how the Hub worked in partnership with industrial partners, and supported and encouraged innovation. Industry partners from M Squared Lasers, Chromacity, Clyde Space and Leonardo were also on hand to meet with Mr Norman to highlight the collaborative efforts with the Hub.

“Hugely impressed”
Mr Norman said he was “hugely impressed” with QuantIC and the way the University of Glasgow engages with innovators and with business and industry. He encouraged submissions to the Green Paper on the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy. The consultation will last for next twelve weeks.

Alongside leading the advancement of quantum enhanced imaging systems, a major thrust of QuantIC is to accelerate the development of single-photon detection technologies. These detectors will in turn help underpin innovations across the entire UK National Quantum Technologies Programme. QuantIC co-investigator Professor Robert Hadfield of the School of Engineering at the University of Glasgow initiated a partnership with Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) to demonstrate a new miniaturized platform for low temperature superconducting detectors. Robert explains, “Superconducting detectors are the Gold Standard for infrared single photon detection; until recently the requirement for liquid helium has been a showstopper in terms of practical applications. At RAL, the UK has world leading expertise in miniaturized closed-cycle cooling.” RAL staff member Dr Matthew Hills added,  “This compact cooler was designed for the European Space Agency Planck space telescope which was launched in 2009; it is exciting to demonstrate the potential of this technology for down-to-earth applications.”

Dr Nathan Gemmell and Dr Matthew Hills with the miniaturized platform for low temperature superconducting detectors.
Dr Nathan Gemmell and Dr Matthew Hills with the miniaturized platform for low temperature superconducting detectors.

Dr Nathan Gemmell, the QuantIC postdoctoral researcher who guided the development of the detector platform, highlights the benefits of this advance, “The superconducting nanowire single-photon detector we have installed in this compact cooler has excellent timing resolution, low noise and – most crucially – a spectral range far beyond off-the-shelf semiconductor photon counting technologies. We plan to deploy this technology in pioneering mid-infrared single-photon imaging and atmospheric remote sensing studies with QuantIC partners.” The Demonstrator was unveiled at the 2016 UK Quantum Technology Showcase in London and is now installed in the QuantIC Innovation Space at the University of Glasgow.

Click on our Superconducting Nanowire flyer for more information here.


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.