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The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) have awarded UK Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellowships to two University of Birmingham Research Fellows.

Dr Andrew Lamb, Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham-led UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing, was awarded with a RAE fellowship for research to enhance border portal security with quantum technology. Dr Lamb proposed the development of quantum-enabled ‘gravity portals’ for use at the nation’s borders, helping to significantly increase national security.

Andrew Lamb

These portals will provide a continuous and highly effective sensing capability particularly to prevent the transmission of illegal goods across national borders, which are difficult to detect with current technology. Utilising quantum gravity sensors would provide an inspection capability that enhances existing technology without imposing additional costly delays.

Gravity sensing development at the UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing has mainly focussed on civil engineering and geophysical applications, and this project will mark the first time quantum sensors will be exploited for national border security.

Dr Despoina Kampouridou, Research Fellow at the Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering department at the University of Birmingham’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, was awarded a fellowship for research to develop a new design approach for ultra-wide and reconfigurable metamaterial-based antennas. This will lead the development of low-loss and high performance ultra-broadband multifunctional antennas with the use of active elements for future wireless systems for defence, as well as civil applications.

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The UKIC Postdoctoral Research Fellowships, which are offered by the Government Office for Science and administered by the Royal Academy of Engineering, provide a vital link between academia and the intelligence community. Each awardee receives funding for at least two years of their project and mentorship from a Fellow of the Academy as well as an advisor from the intelligence community.

On being awarded the Fellowship, Dr Andrew Lamb said:  “I’m looking forward to furthering my research in a field that not only presents its own unique challenges and opportunities but is also valuable to real-world security. With support from the Academy and the intelligence community this represents an interesting new step in the deployment of quantum technology.”

Dr Despoina Kampouridou added: “This research will propose interesting developments towards the next generations of terrestrial and satellite wireless/mobile communications. I am grateful for the support from the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Intelligence Community and the opportunity to contribute to challenging technological advancements.”

The UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing (led by the University of Birmingham) brings together experts from Physics and Engineering from the Universities of Birmingham, Glasgow, Imperial, Nottingham, Southampton, Strathclyde and Sussex, NPL, the British Geological Survey and over 70 industry partners. The Hub has over 100 projects, valued at approximately £100 million, and has 17 patent applications.

The UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing is part of the National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP), which was established in 2014 and has EPSRC, IUK, STFC, MOD, NPL, BEIS, and GCHQ as partners. Four Quantum Technology Hubs were set up at the outset, each focussing on specific application areas with anticipated societal and economic impact. The Commercialising Quantum Technologies Challenge (funded by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund) is part of the NQTP and was launched to accelerate the development of quantum enabled products and services, removing barriers to productivity and competitiveness. The NQTP is set to invest £1B of public and private sector funds over its ten-year lifetime.

The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.