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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W027542/1
Title: Chemically Engineered Quantum Materials: Encapsulation for Spatially Controlled Spins as a Quantum Sensor
Principal Investigator: Attwood, Dr M
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Materials
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 May 2022 Ends: 30 April 2025 Value (£): 522,444
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
25 Jan 2022 Quantum Technology Career Development Fellowship Announced
01 Mar 2022 Quantum Technology Career Development Fellowship Interview Panel A Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Quantum technologies have tremendous potential to bring about global prosperity through increased cyber security, faster communications technology and a revolution in medicine and healthcare. To accomplish these goals we must first develop the materials that are capable of supporting the pre-requisite properties. In this project, we focus on "spin" technologies and their potential as extremely sensitive microwave amplifiers, known as a MASER, which stands for "microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation", the microwave equivalent of a LASER. Microwaves are the language of modern day wireless technology - Bluetooth, 4G and 5G, mobile communications, deep space imaging and even medical scanners such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), all rely on our ability to send and receive microwave signals. Alas, even today, noise from the earth and any source of heat can scramble our signals such that weak signals become impossible to detect. This thermal noise is the reason the MRI scanners take so long, and why our most sensitive telescopes operate in the cold vacuum of space.

MASERs however, a recently rejuvenated form of quantum technology which was originally discovered in the 1950s, may enable us to detect these extremely weak signals from amongst the noise and at room temperature. MASER material operate using contribution energy emitted from specific electron transitions within a molecule that we are able to induce by first shining the material with a laser. This generates a cascade of events that produces an artificially low-noise environment, and initiates a state where groups of molecules are sensitive to stimulation by specific frequencies of microwave photons. When stimulated by a microwave input signal for example, all of these molecules emit at precisely the frequency of the signal, effectively amplifying it. However, while extraordinary, current MASER materials are too inefficient and large for commercial exploitation. That's why this proposal aims to vastly improve the MASER gain (i.e. amplification ability and signal-to-noise ratio), the pre-requisite conditions of operation, and reduce the size of the MASER to become wholly more practicable. This will be accomplished by making targeted chemical changes to MASER materials, that will reduce the effective noise temperature, increase the number of molecules that are capable of amplifying a signal at any one time, and narrow the frequency of emission to more closely match that of the input signal. Furthermore, we seek to miniaturise MASER devices by using cutting-edge molecular deposition techniques and much smaller supporting optical and electrical support.
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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk