Quantum technologies are based on the properties of atoms, electrons and photons of everyday objects. '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.
These fundamental particles can provide unchanging standards to use for measurement and their 'quantum' behaviour can potentially create a completely new class of advanced sensors and systems, with radically new capabilities for timing and navigation, communications, computing and other critical applications.
A number of research groups at NPL are 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.