Universities and science minister David Willetts paid a visit to the world’s quietest laboratory to learn about quantum technologies last week.
The University of Bristol’s state-of-the-art Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information(NSQI) houses over £1m of specialist equipment in a lab where vibration and acoustic noise levels are among the lowest ever achieved, despite being located in the centre of Bristol.
The researchers are pioneering the field of quantum technologies and demonstrated how quantum processors and devices have evolved to put the UK several years ahead of other nations in terms of research, development and application. The resulting technologies offer ultra-secure communications, sensors of unprecedented precision and computers that are exponentially more powerful than any supercomputer for some tasks.
The University hopes to take these technologies out of the lab and engineer them into useful devices which will eventually be portable and low-cost. It’s working alongside some leading industry leaders, such as Nokia, Toshiba and BAE Systems, to integrate these concepts into new products. The Minister for Universities and Science was shown the world’s most sophisticated integrated optical quantum processor chip, which can be used to calculate the properties of molecules – an approach that could ultimately be used in the design of new materials, pharmaceutical drugs and clean energy devices.
He said: “Quantum technologies could be the future of computing, information and communications. Today’s visit to the University of Bristol has shown that UK researchers are leading the way in this exciting area of science, working with industry to develop new products.”
His tour focused on the Centre for Quantum Photonics (CQP), located within NSQI, which hosts specialist equipment such as high-powered pulsed lasers and superconducting photon detectors.
“Quantum technologies are going to have a profound impact on every aspect of our economy and society in the future. We were glad of the opportunity to show the minister how we’re using this science to create useful technologies which will ultimately lead to economic growth for the UK,” said Professor Jeremy O’Brien, Director of the CQP. “Quantum technologies will fundamentally change our lives and the first devices are only a few years from market. It’s a very exciting field.”
The CQP explores fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics, as well as work towards future photonic quantum technologies by generating, manipulating and measuring single photons as well as the quantum systems that emit these photons. It spans the School of Physics and Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering in the Faculties of Science and Engineering, and the Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information.
NATIONAL CENTRE FOR POWER ELECTRONICS OPENS
The investment in the new Centre, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will be spread as a series of grants, each of which involves multiple universities. These consist of a central coordinating Hub – led by Professor Mark Johnson at the University of Nottingham, and involving the universities of Manchester, Newcastle, Greenwich, Bristol, Warwick, Nottingham and Imperial College London – and a series of four technical programmes:
Devices: Led by Professor Phil Mawby at the University of Warwick and involving the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, and Newcastle.
Components: Led by Professor Philip Mellor at the University of Bristol and involving the universities of Greenwich, Nottingham, Manchester, Warwick and Imperial College London.
Convertors: Led by Professor Andrew Forsyth at the University of Manchester and involving the universities of Strathclyde, Nottingham, Bristol and Imperial College London.
Drives: Led by Professor Barrie Mecrow at the University of Newcastle and involving the universities of Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield and Bristol.
Welcoming the opening of the Centre, Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, said: “We have a leading power electronics industry in the UK, but we need to keep investing in research to ensure it remains globally competitive. This National Centre will bring together our excellent universities and businesses to ensure industry has access to the latest science and technology, as well as helping to maintain a supply of skilled people.
EPSRC’s Chief Executive, Professor David Delpy said: “This £18 million investment in a six-year research initiative is part of EPSRC’s response to the Government’s 2011 BIS Strategy for Power Electronics in the UK. We will invest an initial tranche of £12 million with a further £6 million being released subject to a future review of progress. Power Electronics was also a priority area in our recent call for new Centres for Doctoral Training. ”
The opening of the new Centre comes two months after the launch of the PowerelectronicsUK Forum which is a network backed by industry, academia and the government that aims to boost the number of people within the Power Electronics industry.
Steve Burgin, Chairman of PowerelectronicsUK and UK President of Alstom said: “The new EPSRC Centre for Power Electronics will be key to the future success of UK Power Electronics. It will help to keep UK industry and academia at the forefront of next generation Power Electronics technologies.”
The Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter today announced a formal collaboration, to boost research expertise and capability in the South West of England and Wales.
The collaboration will explore and identify opportunities for combined research to address global challenges, while also maximising the impact of and return on investment from research funding.
The group of four research intensive universities, each of which have significant research capabilities and which represent a total turnover in excess of £1,300 million, will be known as the GW4. There are already strong partnerships across the four institutions and the collaboration seeks to build on these.
Professor Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol, said: “Regional groupings of research intensive universities are a rapidly emerging and important evolution, enabling the sharing of research infrastructure and the identification of thematic areas of expertise. These will be increasingly important in order for universities to address grand intellectual and societal challenges.”
Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, Vice Chancellor of the University of Bath, said: “The collective strength of the new grouping is much more than the sum of its individual parts. Taken together, the breadth and depth of our research expertise is truly impressive providing a powerful new contender in the increasingly intense competition for research funding on both the national and international level.”
Cardiff University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan, said: “We want to enhance Cardiff’s world-leading research and reputation by creating a critical mass of research excellence with other UK universities. In a competitive higher education sector we need to find new ways for Wales to compete for research income.
“Working in collaboration with fellow research-intensive Universities will help us to succeed in research and tackle some of society’s biggest research challenges. Critical mass is the key to success and the combined research excellence of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter will give Cardiff – and Wales – a new and competitive edge that will place us at the forefront not only in the UK, but internationally.”
Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter, said: “This is a vital development for ensuring the growth and development of world class research in the South West and Wales. It gives us the critical mass and the quality to succeed in an increasingly competitive and research-intensive environment. The four universities already have a strong tradition of working together and GW4 will take that collaboration to a new level.”
Multicore Challenge Conference 2012
24 September 2012
Bristol (UWE, French Campus)
TVS and ICT KTN are holding the 2012 Multicore Challenge Conference on Monday, 24 September 2012 with speakers, case studies, workshops and tool demonstrations on the latest techniques and technologies for developing systems with multiple processor and graphics cores.
Leading speakers from Imagination, Intel and the University of Bristol will also be part of a panel session at the end of the day on the challenges of developing and using multicore silicon chips. Sign up here