EPSRC logo

Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/M508238/1
Title: FreezeRay (Compact laser cooled cold atom source)
Principal Investigator: Boyer, Dr V
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: School of Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of Birmingham
Scheme: Technology Programme
Starts: 01 July 2015 Ends: 30 September 2016 Value (£): 35,834
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Following the Nobel Prize winning discovery that lasers can cool atoms to extremely low temperatures there has been

extensive research into potential applications. Laboratory experiments with cold atoms have realised a step change of

approximately 1000 times improvement in both inertial navigation and in timing over conventional atomic clocks. These

Quantum Technologies (QT) are emerging to form a new market that will revolutionise many aspects of our daily lives. Cold

atom based QT devices are now forming the next generation of sensing equipment, including atomic clocks (satellite-free

navigation, finance and power synchronisation), gravimeters (military, underground and sub-surface detection) and secure

communications (banking and information exchange).

Each QT device will require a source of cold atoms. With a conventional approach the sub-systems required for producing

cold atom clouds typically occupy a large fraction of a laboratory. The creation and subsequent integration of these subsystems

also represents a significant time commitment, with experiments often requiring several months to a year before

achieving a sufficiently optimised cloud.

The excessive size and complexity of conventional systems will certainly hinder QT devices from exploring their complete

market potential. Achieving this will require a drastic improvement in the mobility of such systems, requiring them to

become smaller and more robust. This will facilitate QT devices becoming portable, allowing them to leave the laboratory

setting and to become technology rather than research apparatus. Furthermore, for QT devices to impact upon a diverse

range of markets it is necessary to commercialise and support the creation of a supply chain, driving down costs and

increasing reliability.

The aim of this project is to enable this through development of an "all-in-one" unit, the FreezeRay, which will be able to

function as the core engine for a variety of cold atom experiments. This will be achieved through advancement of a novel

all-fibre based laser system and the development of a small form factor vacuum system with limited pumping dependence.

The resulting integrated package will then form the centre point for numerous follow on QT devices or experiments.

To develop the FreezeRay engine we have formed a consortium of two industrial and one academic partners. The

University of Birmingham, Cold atoms group possesses a strong background in miniaturisation of cold atom systems,

through novel developments in vacuum and laser systems. UoB will apply their knowledge to the system design phase,

ensuring the design specifications will provide a cold atom source suitable for integration into QT devices. Gooch &

Housego will apply their world leading expertise in photonics to develop a fully fibre based laser system alongside the

control and stabilisation electronics. The laser system will employ frequency doubling of a telecom laser source. This allows

much of the system to be based upon telecom technology, reducing cost and improving reliability. e2v will use their strong

background in the development of small, self-contained vacuum cells to create a novel and compact vacuum system which

they will then integrate with the laser system. Following completion of the unit, UoB will characterise and evaluate the

Key Findings
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Potential use in non-academic contexts
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Description This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.bham.ac.uk