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NPL's quantum collaborations

Quantum Technologies for Fundamental Physics projects

Supporting the transformation our approach to understanding the universe and its evolution

NPL is a partner in three projects of the Quantum Technologies for Fundamental Physics (QTFP) programme funded by STFC as part of the National Quantum Technology Programme (NQTP). The QTFP brings together STFC and EPSRC funded physicists, quantum scientists and quantum technologists to create an environment to exploit quantum technology for addressing some of the outstanding questions of fundamental physics.

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Searching for dark matter

The Quantum Sensing for the Hidden Sector project, led by the University of Sheffield, aims to search for very low mass dark matter, and particularly axions or axion-like particles, using quantum electronics to improve the sensitivity of detection. An axion is a hypothetical elementary particle postulated theoretically in 1977. They are of interest as a possible component of cold dark matter. The discovery of axions would answer many questions about dark matter and other particle physics mysteries.

The project will adapt NPL’s SQUID (superconducting quantum interference device)-based SLUG (Superconducting Low-inductance Undulatory Galvanometer) amplifier for axion detection. It brings together a world-class team to establish a unique capability in hidden sector physics. The work will be highly internationally significant, and attract considerable professional interest from around the globe, and will launch the UK into a new area of fundamental science.

Determining the mass of the neutrino

Quantum Technologies and the Absolute Neutrino Mass (QTNM) project, led by UCL (University College London) aims to harness recent breakthroughs in quantum technologies to solve one of the most important outstanding challenges in particle physics – determining the absolute mass of neutrinos.

NPL leads a work package in this project to develop a quantum limited superconducting microwave amplifier, using NPL microbridge SQUID design, to precisely measure cyclotron resonance of electrons emitted from decay of tritium. This will provide data for models of neutrino mass. The project will deliver high quality science and all the scientific results will be published in journals and disseminated through conference talks and reports.

Measuring the stability of fundamental constants

The Networked Quantum Sensors for Fundamental Physics (QSNET) project, led by the Midland Ultracold Atoms Research Centre, is building a network of atomic and molecular clocks to achieve unprecedented sensitivity in testing variations of the fine structure constant, α, and the electron-to-proton mass ratio, μ. These measurements will help refine a wide range of fundamental physics theories beyond the Standard Model, including theories on dark matter.

NPL will be use the data from three clocks, based on Sr, Yb+ and Cs, to achieve sensitivity beyond the current state-of-the-art in detecting changes in the proton-to-electron mass ratio. We will continue to make advances to improve this sensitivity further.

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