Measurement for Quantum - M4Q
Measurement for Quantum - M4Q
Measurement for Quantum

Quantum test and measurement

Building confidence and trust in quantum measurements

Device designers and manufacturers, measurement equipment providers and researchers will find NPL’s comprehensive range of equipment and knowledge a vital resource. Our breadth of expertise means we can find solutions and alternatives that you may not have considered, discuss the pros and cons of different techniques and give you the latest updates on standards and guidance.

This is a specialist area so please contact us to discuss your requirements and challenges so we can get the best team of people to work with you. Please apply using our online form and we will respond within 3 working days. We look forward to working with you.

Apply here


NPL can provide measurements, consultancy and advice in the following areas of quantum technology:

Small current and quantum noise measurements

 Measurement for Quantum provides:

  • Advice on small currents and quantum noise problems which are not standard calibration or measurement issues. 
  • Points of best practice and confidence to trust measurements when operating in the area of low electric current (femto-amps), high resistance (peta-ohms) and low charge (femto-coulombs).
  • Expertise in instrumentation and methods to measure small currents traceable to primary standards.
  • Access to equipment for noise recovery measurements as an analysis tool or thermometry.
  • Characterisation of electrical insulators, for markets such as radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips and medical devices.

We offer a flexible and bespoke service which is ideal for designers and developers of novel quantum electrical device. We can characterise low power and high resistance products containing semiconductor chips, insulators and the components up or downstream of these. Our research experience developing single-electron systems means we have the instrumentation and methods to measure small currents traceable to primary standards and characterise the noise. NPL can:  

  • Characterise shot noise in low dimensional systems, single electron systems and other phenomenon with a characteristic noise signature (including quantum Hall breakdown).
  • Sense tiny changes in temperature via Johnson noise thermometry. 
  • Give advice on noise debugging in complicated systems.
  • Explain the significance of the measurements and advise on future research and testing of quantum devices.

Measurement of material-induced noise in superconducting quantum circuits

Measurement for Quantum provides:

  • Characterisation of the materials and processes used to fabricate superconducting quantum processors.
  • Advice for companies trying to optimise their fabrication processes and choose the best materials.
  • Detection and quantification of the small number of defects and impurities.

The materials used to fabricate superconducting quantum processors should exhibit low-loss and ideally be completely free from defects and impurities. NPL has developed a unique suite of measurement techniques based on methods from precision frequency metrology. This is key for organisations developing superconducting quantum processors and certain types of superconducting detectors. NPL uses:

  • A set of on-chip microwave resonators that have been fabricated using the same process as the quantum processors and which are then measured in our facility. 
  • Measurement techniques to quantify intrinsic materials noise and give feedback which can be used to make improvements to the fabrication process.
  • Unique techniques to give quantitative information about the materials and processes used in manufacture.

Nanoscale imaging of physical properties for applications in quantum devices 

 Measurement for Quantum provides:

  • Access to unique measurement capabilities for characterisation and trusted measurements.
  • Understanding of suboptimal performance of quantum materials and devices.
  • Visualisation of physical and chemical properties of quantum materials, devices and defects on the nanoscale and correlation of different types of properties.

NPL has a range of facilities and experts which can be applied to tackling real problems in semiconductor, sensors and advanced manufacturing industries, as well as other sectors. We have a long and successful track record of working with academia, international NMIs and research organisations, solving their measurement challenges. NPL provides:

  • Optoelectronic, electronic, magnetic and thermal analysis techniques.
  • Characterisation of surface or sub-surface features with sub-nanometre resolution, including in 2D materials.
  • Characterisation of atomic defects such as single atom vacancies or impurities.
  • Control and characterisation of electric, magnetic and thermal nanoscale properties.
  • Studies of quantum magnetic phenomena, spintronic effects and nanomechanics.
  • Chemical nanoscale analysis, determination of composition and structure.
  • Identification of binding events on functionalised materials.
  • Correlation of nanoscale imaging with complementary micro- and nano-electrical characterisation of thin films and devices.

Characterisation of compact lasers and other photonic components

Measurement for Quantum provides:

  • Test and measurement of prototypes so that the company can make a go/no go decision on production.
  • Consultancy on setting up in-house measurement to give new capabilities and infrastructure to make measurements themselves
  • Technical specifications at a high standard so potential customers can expand business into new areas or increase prices for high specification products.

NPL has the know-how or technical capability to perform high-level metrological tests on laser-based devices and systems. We can work with laser or laser component manufacturers and users of lasers, who do not have the in-house capabilities for linewidth measurements, to provide:

  • Consultancy to set up in-house laser linewidth measurements
  • Advice on measurements including light-output versus current (L-I) and relative intensity of noise (RIN) and output frequency/ tuning
  • Laser linewidth measurements at specific wavelengths for optical and microwave clock development.

Characterisation of single-photon sources and detectors 

Measurement for Quantum provides:

  • Advice on the use of standardised metrics to enable a fair comparison of the performance of different devices.
  • Independent and impartial characterisation of prototype devices to support bids for funding
  • Measurement expertise and advice to start-ups so that they can focus on research and development

NPL can work with developers and manufacturers of single-photon sources and detectors, as well as systems integrators making use of such devices. We can perform measurements at wavelengths which many organisations do not have in-house capability to provide, including:

  • Characterisation of the spectral, temporal and second-order correlation properties of prototype single-photon sources.
  • Characterisation of gated and free-running prototype single-photon detectors - detection efficiency, dark count and after-pulse probability, deadtime, jitter and recovery times.
  • Extensive expertise and instrumentation for performing measurements traceable to the SI.
  • Advice on methods for reliable calibration.
  • Evidence to support information, specifications and claims about new devices.

Cryogenic-temperature semiconductor device characterisation

Measurement for Quantum provides:

  • Access to a cryogenic test facility for RF cryogenic components.
  • Advice on RF control and readout techniques in the context of cryogenic quantum technology platforms from NPL experts.
  • Multiparameter cryogenic device characterisation which draws on experience of novel devices development for quantum technologies.

NPL has a dedicated cryogenic facility for testing electronic devices, with enough control lines, instrumentation and automation to ensure prompt feedback from prototype batches and rapid iterations of new designs. We work with designers and manufacturers of RF and microwave equipment into the quantum sector, from start-ups to established players. Also, companies developing semiconductor or superconductor device components for low temperature quantum research come to us for help in establishing or supplementing their own test facilities. NPL provides:

  • Characterisation of high frequency cryogenic cables, components or interconnects at low temperatures (0.1 to 300 K), high frequency (0-18 GHz) and high magnetic fields (0-10 T)
  • DC and AC device characterisation (such as gate leakage, conductance, transconductance) down to <0.1 K and fields up to 14 T with precision voltage/current control and current voltage readout.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help

If you are interested, please apply using our online form. We aim to respond to you within 3 working days. We look forward to working with you.

Apply here

Work with us

Our research and measurement solutions support innovation and product development. We work with companies to deliver business advantage and commercial success.
Contact our Customer Services team on +44 20 8943 7070