University of Sheffield Launches Quantum Centre

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A new research centre with the potential to revolutionize computing, communication, sensing and imaging technologies is set to be launched by the University of Sheffield this week.

The Sheffield Quantum Centre, which will be officially opened by Lord Jim O’Neill, Chair of Chatham House and University of Sheffield alumnus, is bringing together more than 70 of the University’s leading scientists and engineers to develop new quantum technologies.

Quantum technologies are a broad range of new materials, devices and information technology protocols in physics and engineering. They promise unprecedented capabilities and performance by exploiting phenomena that cannot be explained by classical physics. Quantum technologies could lead to the development of more secure communications technologies and computers that can solve problems far beyond the capabilities of existing computers.

Research into quantum technologies is a high priority for the UK and many countries around the world. The UK government has invested heavily in quantum research as part of a national program and has committed £1 billion in funding over 10 years.

Led by the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering and Department of Computer Science, the Sheffield Quantum Centre will join a group of northern universities that are playing a significant role in the development of quantum technologies.

The University of Sheffield has a strong presence in quantum research with world leading capabilities in crystal growth, nanometre scale device fabrication and device physics research. A spin-out company has already been formed to help commercialise research, with another in preparation.

Professor Maurice Skolnick, Director of the Sheffield Quantum Centre, said: “The University of Sheffield already has very considerable strengths in the highly topical area of quantum science and technology. I have strong expectation that the newly formed centre will bring together these diverse strengths to maximise their impact, both internally and more widely across UK universities and funding bodies.”

During the opening ceremony, the Sheffield Quantum Centre will also launch its new £2.1 million Quantum Technology Capital equipment.

Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the equipment is a molecular beam epitaxy cluster tool designed to grow very high quality wafers of semiconductor materials – types of materials that have numerous everyday applications such as in mobile phones and lasers that drive the internet.

The semiconductor materials also have many new quantum applications which researchers are focusing on developing.

Professor Jon Heffernan from the University’s Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, added: “The University of Sheffield has a 40-year history of pioneering developments in semiconductor science and technology and is host to the National Epitaxy Facility. With the addition of this new quantum technologies equipment I am confident our new research centre will lead to many new and exciting technological opportunities that can exploit the strange but powerful concepts from quantum science.”

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