The University of Southampton

Quantum innovation promises 'cold atoms in your pocket' at world's biggest tech show

Published: 9 January 2020
Dr Andrei Dragomir speaks to the media at CES 2020

Physicists from the University of Southampton have unveiled the first design for a portable atomic clock at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020.

The device's miniaturised hardware, developed in the Quantum, Light and Matter Group, launched today as part of the only UK university exhibit at the world-renowned technology showcase in Las Vegas.

Dr Andrei Dragomir and his spinout, Aquark Technologies, is demonstrating the quantum leap this week on the University's Future Worlds accelerator stand in Eureka Park.

Aquark Technologies is helping unlock the future of quantum technology through its unique microfabricated ultra-high vacuum chamber which employs cold atom technology. The result is the first simple, plug-and-play quantum device on the market that includes cold atoms, opening new possibilities for the next generation of computing, sensing and communications applications.

Whilst the feat of the atomic clock represents the first step in the market for Aquark Technologies, the spinout's main focus is on the vacuum chamber and novel optical geometry that sits at the heart of its devices, which allow the miniaturisation of most quantum technology-based systems.

"Quantum technology offers so many opportunities for incredible technological advances, however most of this is currently unreachable by users or companies due to the size, weight and level of complexity," Andrei says. "We will turn these incredible but complex devices into simple to use systems and we are delighted to present at CES the potential miniaturisation of future quantum devices."

The spinout's enabling technologies are building upon Andrei's doctoral thesis, 'Cold atoms in your pocket', which focussed on the construction of these vacuum chambers, the study of bonding technologies and the manufacturing of integrated electric feedthroughs, together with the development of new cold atom trap geometries.

Graham Stuart MP, Minister for Investment, says: "Aquark Technologies have used world-leading UK university research to launch a ground-breaking product which shows the commercial potential of quantum technology. We are significantly increasing science and R&D spend, strengthening the UK's European leadership in innovation and helping our companies push the boundaries in quantum technology to unlock the potential for all mankind."

CES 2020 includes over 4,500 exhibiting companies and is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees wanting to see the next generation of consumer technologies.

University startups SPYDERISK, a cyber-security threat assessment tool, and Radii Devices, a cloud-based design assistant for prosthetists, are also exhibiting with Future Worlds at CES 2020.

Ben Clark, Future Worlds Director, says: "The Future Worlds stand at CES proudly puts UK university innovation on the world stage. Our students and academics are turning world-leading research into products that change the world. Exhibiting at CES has helped startups and spinouts from the University of Southampton gain hundreds of commercial leads and secure millions of pounds of investment, and we're excited to see these latest innovations make global impact in 2020."

Future Worlds is based in Booths 51733 and 51735 in Eureka Park at the Sands Expo. You can follow daily updates from Andrei and other University entrepreneurs on the Future Worlds website.

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