National Physical Laboratory

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NPL is working on the incredibly sensitive measurements needed to develop and apply cutting-edge quantum technologies.

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

'Quantum' refers to the minimum amount of a physical entity. A photon is a quantum, for example, as it is the smallest divisible unit of light: a single light particle.

Quantum physics describes the behaviour of small particles, including photons, as well as atoms, ions and electrons. The wave-like behaviour of quantum systems gives rise to many interesting properties that can be exploited in areas such as computing, communication and timing.

Several research groups at NPL are currently working on advancing quantum technologies. New investments are building on NPL's expertise to enhance the UK's capabilities in developing and applying these exciting technologies.

Time & Frequency

Quantum technologies are being used to create ever more precise timing with next-generation optical atomic clocks based on ions of strontium or ytterbium.

Strontium ion end trap

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