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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W02683X/1
Title: LeviNet - Levitation Network for Advanced Quantum Technologies
Principal Investigator: Millen, Dr JN
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
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Department: Physics
Organisation: Kings College London
Scheme: Network
Starts: 14 February 2022 Ends: 13 February 2025 Value (£): 347,134
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No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
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Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
18 Jan 2022 Quantum Technology International Networks Prioritisation Panel January 2022 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
** Micro-mechanical systems play a key role in quantum communication & sensing technologies. Their sensitivity & coherence rapidly degrade as they shrink due to dissipation to the environment. Levitation breaks this pathway, allowing free quantum evolution & extreme sensitivity.**

In 2018, Arthur Ashkin was joint-awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the development of optical tweezers; a technique for controlling the motion of microscopic objects using light. The applicability ranges from single atoms, through nano- and micro-particles, to biological objects such as cells. This technology has enables the quantum control of gases of atoms, which are now used in cutting-edge gravity- and magnetic field- sensors, and optical tweezers are ubiquitous in the medical sciences for example to test for diabetes.

In 2010, groups in the UK, USA and Austria simultaneously proposed that it should be possible to control nanoparticles, levitated in a vacuum using focussed laser beams, so well that they would enter the quantum regime. This would be an astounding feat, since nano-objects are many orders of magnitude larger than any other object to have displayed quantum behaviour. Exactly 10 years after the initial proposal, this goal was experimentally realised by LeviNet members. The desirability of cooling massive objects (compared to atoms) to the quantum regime is two-fold: it opens the path to exploring fundamental quantum physics, and since they behave as mechanical oscillators they can participate in advanced quantum technologies.

The precision control of optically trapped particles is known as levitated optomechanics. The UK has shown strong support for this growing discipline, investing £14M of a global £65M investment. As groups around the world realise quantum levitated systems, and develop robust supporting technologies, it is key that the UK remains a decisive player at this point of proven quantum application, through a focussed and intensive programme of knowledge-sharing. LeviNet brings together all the key players in the world to realise this goal.

Key information will be communicated, and new collaborations between researchers and industry founded, through the provision of all-member conferences. Specific problems will be tackled as a community at workshops and 1-day online focus-groups. Younger researchers will get the opportunity to learn new skills and share knowledge by participating in short scientific missions to other research groups.

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