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Oxford’s Department of Physics is playing a key role in three of the seven quantum projects supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Artist's impression of the Big Bang

Today, UKRI announced the launch of the Quantum Technologies for Fundamental Physics (QTFP) programme, which will support scientists using quantum technology to study the universe in new ways in order to determine the nature of dark matter, detect gravitational waves and study the physics of black holes. Professor Ian Shipsey, Head of the Department of Physics, has championed the programme since its inception:

‘This cutting-edge interdisciplinary programme brings together EPSRC and STFC scientists from UK universities, national labs and National Quantum Technology Programme (NQTP) Hubs, with international partners to conduct seven ambitious experiments. Just as quantum computing promises to revolutionise traditional computing, technologies such as quantum sensors have the potential to radically change our approach to understanding the universe... Exciting science awaits!'

The QTFP comprises seven projects to date: QSNET; Quantum-enhanced interferometry for New Physics; Quantum Sensors for the Hidden Sector; Determination of Absolute Neutrino Mass using Quantum Technologies; Quantum Simulators for Fundamental Physics; Quantum-enhanced Superfluid Technologies for Dark Matter and Cosmology; and a UK Atom Interferometer Observatory and NetworkOxford is involved in three of these:

Quantum Sensors for the Hidden SectorThe project will use cutting-edge quantum technology to try to detect hidden sector particles – hypothetical quantum fields and their particles which are yet to be observed. Discoveries and advances in this field could provide insights into what happened after the big bang and solve the dark matter problem – the observation that galaxies and the observable Universe are heavier than their observed constituents.

UK Atom Interferometer Observatory and NetworkThe AION project brings together an interdisciplinary team of researchers, engineers and PhD students from the particle physics, ultra-cold atom and astronomy communities to develop the technology to build and reap the scientific rewards from the first large-scale atom interferometer in the UK. The funding will support the design of an 10m atom interferometer, leading towards the construction of the instrument in Oxford and paving the way for larger-scale future experiments to be located in the UK.

Quantum-enhanced Superfluid Technologies for Dark Matter and Cosmology - more details to follow


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