27 January 2020
Sheffield Quantum Centre launched to develop computing, communication, sensing and imaging technologies
A new research center targeting computing, communication, sensing and imaging technologies has been launched by the UK’s University of Sheffield. Officially opened by alumnus Lord Jim O’Neill (chair of Chatham House, Royal Institute of International Affairs), the Sheffield Quantum Centre is bringing together more than 70 of the university’s leading scientists and engineers to develop new quantum technologies, which it is reckoned could lead to the development of more secure communications technologies and computers that can solve problems far beyond the capabilities of existing computers. The UK government has invested in quantum research as part of a national program and has committed £1bn in funding over 10 years.
Led by the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering and Department of Computer Science, the Sheffield Quantum Centre will join a group of northern universities that are playing a significant role in the development of quantum technologies.
The University of Sheffield has a presence in quantum research, with capabilities in crystal growth, nanometer-scale device fabrication and device physics research. A spin-out company has already been formed to help commercialize research, with another in preparation.
“The University of Sheffield already has very considerable strengths in the highly topical area of quantum science and technology,” says professor Maurice Skolnick, director of the Sheffield Quantum Centre. “I have strong expectation that the newly formed center will bring together these diverse strengths to maximise their impact, both internally and more widely across UK universities and funding bodies.”
During the opening ceremony, the Sheffield Quantum Centre also launched its new £2.1m Quantum Technology Capital equipment. Funded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the equipment comprises a molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) cluster tool designed to grow very high-quality semiconductor wafers. The semiconductor materials also have many new quantum applications that researchers are focused on developing.
“The University of Sheffield has a 40-year history of pioneering developments in semiconductor science and technology and is host to the National Epitaxy Facility,” notes professor Jon Heffernan of the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering. “With the addition of this new quantum technologies equipment I am confident our new research center will lead to many new and exciting technological opportunities that can exploit the strange but powerful concepts from quantum science.”