University of Sussex researchers receive share of £6 million investment to support the UK’s quantum leap
By: Vicky Trendall Lane
Last updated: Thursday, 1 September 2022
Physicists from the University of Sussex have been awarded a significant grant to support fundamental quantum research.
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a non-departmental Government body, is investing £6 million towards seventeen new projects from institutions across the UK, tackling important research questions with quantum technology – from the exploration of antimatter gravity to dark matter detection.
The University of Sussex is one of the institutions to receive funding, with physicists using the grant to research the future measurement of the absolute mass of the neutrino.
The neutrino is a fundamental particle that’s very difficult to detect and has rest mass that is extremely small. In fact, the absolute mass of the neutrino is the last of the 26 fundamental nature constants of the ‘Standard Model’ of Physics whose measurement is still an open experimental challenge.
Dr Jose Verdu Galiana, Reader in Physics at the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at Sussex, and his team will use the funding to develop a quantum sensor of microwave radiation, which will have the ultimate sensitivity needed to measure the neutrino mass.
Dr Verdu Galiana said:
“Having a quantum sensor with the accuracy to measure the neutrino mass is the last fundamental constant value that remains unknown. To develop this, is an incredibly important scientific endeavour. Over the next two years, myself and the team will be proving that our microwave sensor can truly measure the neutrino mass.”
The development of this research could have significant real-world impacts, including enhancing how we use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and mass spectrometry across various sectors.
UKRI’s investment is being made in support of its existing Quantum Technologies for Fundamental Physics (QTFP) programme, which receives joint funding from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
The grants aim to encourage high-risk discovery and aim to demonstrate how quantum tech can solve long-standing questions in fundamental physics.
Professor Grahame Blair, STFC Executive Director, Programmes, said:
“This new cohort of projects should make a valuable contribution to our understanding of the universe using cutting-edge quantum tech such as quantum computing, imaging, sensing and simulations.
The new grants continue to support the UK research community in exploring the diversity of quantum technology applications for fundamental science – from neutrino mass studies to searches for violations of fundamental symmetries of nature.”