MP Eddie Hughes visits UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing

MP Eddie Hughes with Professor Kai Bongs
MP Eddie Hughes discussing sensors with Professor Kai Bongs and Dr Simon Bennett

Member of Parliament Eddie Hughes visited the UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing led by the University of Birmingham to see first-hand its ground-breaking research.

The MP for Walsall North met with Hub Director Dr Simon Bennett, Hub Principle Investigator Professor Kai Bongs, and Nicole Metje, Professor of Infrastructure Monitoring.

During the visit, the MP was briefed about the Hub’s new second phase of work which started last December.  Phase two will focus on magnetometry for healthcare, geophysics, navigation, timing and underpinning technology - all aimed at delivering unprecedented performance at the same time as reducing the size, weight power and cost of future sensor systems.

Topical subjects such as the HS2 rail construction were also discussed during the visit, as well as how gravity sensors will help alleviate the expensive delays caused by digging as part of site investigations.

The MP was given a tour of the new quantum clocks laboratory, which is dedicated to the iqclock programme - a 10 million Euro EU-funded project which aims to develop ultra-precise and easily transportable optical atomic clocks. The project comprises six research institutes and six companies including the Universities of Birmingham and Amsterdam, and Teledyne e2v.

This was followed by a visit to the gravity laboratories and comes as the impact of quantum gravity sensors is becoming increasingly understood among industry.

Professor Bongs spoke about magnetometry research being undertaken at the University of Nottingham, one of the Hub’s seven collaborative partners.  Magnetometry research involves the creation of a wearable MEG scanner, which will measure brain activity in children performing everyday activity.

Of the visit, Dr Simon Bennett, Principle Investigator the UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing based at the University of Birmingham, said: “We were delighted to welcome Eddie to the Hub, and we welcome his support and encouragement for our research.

“Quantum sensors will steadily transform the UK’s infrastructure, particularly in terms of progressively increasing productivity by reducing unknown risks below the ground, and this will in turn help grow the economy further.”

It was the second visit to the Hub by the MP, who has championed the work of the facility in the Houses of Parliament.

At the time he said: “Gravity sensors will help us to see beneath the ground for construction projects.

“Invariably, people do not get price certainty with construction projects because they do not know completely what is in the ground. Imagine if this country developed technology that allowed for that certainty and then created products that were sold throughout the world.”