Major NSF Funding to Pursue Quantum-scale Sensor Technologies

Thursday, August 31, 2023

At the atomic and subatomic scales exist behaviors that have vast potential to enhance how we see and interact with the world, by improving current technologies and potentially giving rise to new ones. The main advantage to be gained from the realm of quantum sensing is the extreme sensitivity and accuracy of future technologies capable of capturing the faintest of signals and measure at the smallest of scales.

Now, several UC Santa Barbara researchers are poised to deploy their expertise in quantum science as part of the U.S. National Science Foundation’s (NSF) program Quantum Sensing Challenges for Transformational Advances in Quantum Systems (QuSeC-TAQS). They join a cohort of eighteen research teams at universities across the U.S. backed by a $29 million investment from NSF to explore ways to harness the infinitesimal and sometimes counterintuitive quantum-scale properties of nature to create opportunities at the human scale.

Each of the teams will receive $1 million to $2 million over four years to conduct a broad range of exploratory research activities. The diverse potential impacts range from being able to sense gravitational waves as they ripple across space, having a means to witness the inner functions of living cells.

“For decades, scientific exploration at the quantum scale has yielded surprising discoveries about how our universe works — and tantalizing possibilities for quantum enabled technologies,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “We are now taking the next step in quantum research through these projects and others, which combine fundamental research with potential applications that can positively impact our lives, our economic prosperity and our competitiveness as a nation.”

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Illustration showing an artist's conceptual rendering of a quantum magnetometer on a chip. Illustration by Brian Long

Artist's conceptual rendering of a quantum magnetometer on a chip. Illustration by Brian Long