Manchester professor to co-lead new Network in materials for quantum technologies

The Network aims to ensure that the world-leading UK materials research base, the existing National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP), and the developing quantum industry base are brought together in a UK-wide coordinated effort.

This community-driven proposal was supported by 100 researchers from over 25 universities along with the four NQTP Hubs, the National Physical Laboratory, the Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials and industry representatives. It will enable effective engagement between these key stakeholders, ensure that underpinning materials challenges are understood, and define pathways to identified solutions, thereby giving strategic direction to research investments that will deliver a future quantum economy within the UK.

The Network will be led by Professor Peter Haynes, Head of the Department of Materials at Imperial College London, and Professor Richard Curry, Vice-Dean for Research & Innovation in the Faculty of Science & Engineering at The University of Manchester. A strategic advisory board will be chaired by Professor Rachel Oliver from the University of Cambridge.

Professor Curry said “This Network will bridge the gap between the major investments in the NQTP and the Henry Royce Institute and help to secure the UK’s future competitiveness in quantum technologies."

This Network will bridge the gap between the major investments in the NQTP and the Henry Royce Institute and help to secure the UK’s future competitiveness in quantum technologies.

Professor Richard Curry, Vice-Dean for Research and Innovation in the University's Faculty of Science and Engineering

Quantum mechanics is a fundamental theory of physics that was introduced to explain the behaviour of atoms and subatomic particles. It dominated the twentieth century by enabling the digital revolution that has transformed our economy and society.

We are now poised on the brink of a second revolution where the quantum physics of superposition and entanglement will be exploited at much larger scales. This will lead to transformative technologies for timing, sensing, imaging, communications and computing with applications in major industries including energy, construction, pharmaceuticals, defence, finance, security, telecommunications and information technology.

Like all technologies, quantum devices rely critically upon materials, both at the heart of the quantum system and in the surrounding technology. By comparison with the digital revolution, quantum technologies are currently at the stage of the thermionic valve: remarkable for their time but a long way from today’s products. While the materials of interest include so-called quantum materials such as superconductors and topological insulators, the majority of the needs at the heart of the quantum system will be met by more conventional complex oxides, ferroelectrics, nonlinear optical, 2D materials, engineered impurities in semiconductors, insulating materials, molecular materials, glasses and magnetic alloys, all underpinned by theory & simulation, characterisation and processing.

Professor Peter Haynes said “The EPSRC Materials for Quantum Network is a timely opportunity to harness the UK’s materials research community in addressing the needs of the national quantum programme to develop mature technologies that are sufficiently usable, reliable and cost-effective to take to market."

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