£4.3m for Nottingham quantum projects to solve universe’s mysteries

Scientists will use cutting-edge quantum technologies to transform our understanding of the universe and answer key questions about the nature of black holes.

New research at the University of Nottingham is one of seven projects to have secured funding as part of £31 million investment from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The new projects will demonstrate how quantum technologies could solve some of the greatest mysteries in fundamental physics.

Just as quantum computing promises to revolutionise traditional computing, technologies such as quantum sensors have the potential to radically change our approach to understanding our universe.

The University of Nottingham has been awarded £4.3 million for a three-year project that aims to provide insights into the physics of the early universe and black holes.

The research team will use quantum simulators to mimic the extreme conditions of the early universe and black holes. The Nottingham team will be using a new state laboratory to set up a novel hybrid superfluid optomechanical system to mimic quantum black hole processes in the laboratory.

The project will also include a public engagement exhibition with the team working with artists to create an immersive installation artwork to engage the public, including children, young people, and families with the cutting edge research, in an accessible and exciting way.

The Nottingham team includes; Dr Jorma Louko, Professor John Owers-Bradley, Dr Pierre Verlot and is led by Professor Silke Weinfurtner.

The Quantum Technology for Fundamental Physics program is a fantastic initiative, paving the way for the formation of a new community at the interface between two exciting fields. We have an amazing consortium, with excellent scientists from both camps, and over the next three years will turn a range of abstract concepts related to the early universe and black holes into reality.

The projects are supported through the Quantum Technologies for Fundamental Physics programme, delivered by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of UKRI’s Strategic Priorities Fund. The programme is part of the National Quantum Technologies Programme.

Professor Mark Thomson, Executive Chair of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, said: “STFC is proud to support these projects that utilise cutting-edge quantum technologies for novel and exciting research into fundamental physics.

“Major scientific discoveries often arise from the application of new technologies and techniques. With the application of emerging quantum technologies, I believe we have an opportunity to change the way we search for answers to some of the biggest mysteries of the universe. These include exploring what dark matter is made of, finding the absolute mass of neutrinos and establishing how quantum mechanics fits with Einstein’s theory of relativity.

“I believe strongly that this exciting new research programme will enable the UK to take the lead in a new way of exploring profound questions in fundamental physics.”

Professor Dame Lynn Gladden, Executive Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and UKRI sponsor for Quantum Technologies, said: “The National Quantum Technologies Programme has successfully accelerated the first wave of quantum technologies to a maturity where they can be used to make advances in both fundamental science and industrial applications.

“The investments UKRI is making through the Quantum Technologies for Fundamental Physics programme allows us to bring together the expertise of EPSRC and STFC to apply the latest advances in quantum science and technology to explore, and answer, long-standing research questions in fundamental physics. This is a hugely exciting programme and we look forward to delivering these projects and funding further work in this area as well as exploring opportunities for exploiting quantum technologies with other UKRI partners.”

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