UCL awarded £25m for quantum technologies research and doctoral training

1 March 2016

UCL has been awarded £25m by the UK Government to support new doctoral training partnerships in science and engineering, and to fund research and training programmes in quantum technologies.

Quantum Hydrogen on Graphene

Quantum Hydrogen on Graphene – Image by Erlend Davidson (Thomas Young Centre, London)

The funding forms part of two major investments totalling £204m which were announced today by science minister Jo Johnson.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is committed to supporting 40 UK universities with £167m funding for its new Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP). Of this, UCL will receive over £13m to support doctoral training for 120 students across engineering and physical sciences in the next two years.

“Doctoral training is right at the heart of UCL’s mission as a leading research intensive university and this funding will enable us to build cohorts of research leaders in a welcoming environment with a strong team of supervisors and supportive peers,” said Professor David Bogle, Pro-Vice-Provost of the Doctoral School. “The EPSRC DTP is crucial for developing trained researchers and will fund the EPSRC Doctoral Prize scheme which helps a small number of the best EPSRC-funded students to launch a successful career in research following their doctoral training.”

The Government is also investing £37m in developing UK quantum technologies, and UCL will receive £12m of this to fund research and training programmes in this fast-advancing field. Quantum technologies have the potential to revolutionise applications in electronics, computer science and communications by harnessing the special properties of light and matter at the single-particle level, going beyond the limits of classical physics and conventional technologies.

The UCL Quantum Science and Technology Institute (UCLQ), which brings together researchers from UCL Engineering and UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences, will use the £12m of funding to support two programmes – ‘Quantum Engineering with Solid-state Technologies’ (QUES2T) and a new skills hub in Quantum Systems Engineering.

“Quantum technologies such as quantum computing have the potential to make transformative impacts in information processing, able to solve problems in scientific modelling and data analysis which are beyond the capabilities of today’s fastest supercomputers,” said Professor John Morton, co-Director of UCLQ and lead for the QUES2T project. “Locating a major research and development activity for quantum technologies in London, at the heart of Europe’s fastest growing technology cluster, offers very exciting opportunities.”

QUES2T aims to develop practical quantum technologies using solid-state components such as silicon chips, superconducting circuits, and diamond-based devices. It is a partnership led by UCLQ, with Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Cardiff as academic partners along with 13 commercial partners.

The majority of the funding – £8.5m – will be invested in new equipment for QUES2T. This will include state-of-the-art micro- and nano-fabrication tools for quantum devices and integrated circuits, as well as advanced measurement ‘test-beds’ operating down to temperatures a few thousandths of a degree above absolute zero.

The new £3.5m skills hub will allow UCLQ to address the supply of people to the emerging quantum technologies industry, including significant expansion of its postgraduate training and research programme in quantum technologies. A total of at least 15 funded research studentships in quantum technologies will be available each year with an increased provision for students from an engineering background, and more projects will be available in targeted engineering of quantum technologies.

Through the skills hub, UCLQ will also be able to offer for postdoctoral prize fellowships, a programme of industry secondments and innovation prize funds to seed commercialisation of quantum technology research.

Prof Andrew Fisher, co-Director of UCLQ and lead for the skills hub, said:

“It is particularly exciting to be able to offer these new training opportunities at a time of such rapid development in the quantum technologies field.  I’m delighted we can now offer engineers at a range of different career stages the chance to turn some of today’s most exciting science into tomorrow’s technologies.”

Professor David Price, UCL Vice-Provost (Research), said:

“This award reflects the stunning advances made by UCL’s quantum technologies community in recent years, and will help to ensure that they continue to generate world-leading research breakthroughs. Significantly, the new skills hub will provide an unrivalled environment for the development of the next generation of quantum technologists.”


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