National Physical Laboratory

Quantum Detection Quantum Detection

The Quantum Detection Group at NPL uses a broad range of technology, much of it at the nanometre scale, to explore physical phenomena for electrical metrology, magnetic sensing and communications.

Research areas

  • NPL is developing superconducting devices and associated measurement systems for signal processing at cryogenic temperatures.
  • Structural and functional engineering, physics and metrology of graphene.
  • Measurements and visualisation of small magnetic fields/moments.
  • Nanoscale superconducting quantum interference devices.
  • Nano-electromechanical systems (NEMS).
  • NPL is developing nano-scale devices for moving electrons one at a time around an electrical circuit. These devices may form the foundation of a future redefinition of the SI base unit for current, the ampere.
  • Technology to facilitate quantum optical processes and algorithms.
  • Superconducting quantum technology and hybrid systems.


NPL’s research into the quantum Hall effect was highlighted in Nature

What we do

  • Research and develop new devices for generating and detecting individual quanta (e.g. phonons or magnetic spin)
  • Work on new techniques for characterising quantum-mechanical state evolution
  • Use quantum coherence and entanglement to enhance measurement precision
  • Develop high speed devices for manipulation of electrical current at the single-electron level
  • Study the latest materials, such as graphene, to advance our understanding of the quantum effects that lie at the heart of the modern measurement system

Meet the team

Image gallery

  • Magnetic image of NPL-TQEM logo made by e-beam lithography.
  • Surface potential image of H2-intercalated epitaxial graphene.
  • Focused Ion Beam manipulation of magnetic beads. The bead diameter is 1 µm.
  • Magnetic image of the Penrose pattern used for e-beam lithography alignment.
  • Magnetic stripe domains in nickel heat sink.
  • EASYSPIN simulation of angular dependence of ESR for Gd ions in sapphire.
  • Domain wall-based magnetic nanosensor for detection of magnetic beads.
  • Screening effect in bilayer graphene.
  • Fractal resonator with magnetic field density distribution model at implantation.


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