Ilminster, 23 July 2015

Gooch & Housego, the global optical components and systems manufacturer, are pleased to announce that a project in which they are the lead partner, has been selected for funding by Innovate UK in the recent call for proposals on “Commercialization of Quantum Technologies”.

The £364,000 project, called Freeze-Ray, will run from July 2015 – September 2016. It will focus on the development of a miniature high power fiber laser by G&H’s Torquay based System Technology Group (STG). Commercial partners e2v are developing miniature vacuum systems in which the atoms will be trapped by the laser light, while the University of Birmingham will conduct laser cooling tests on rubidium atoms.

The project will develop a practical and commercial laser source and vacuum system for application of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Physics winning discovery that lasers can cool atoms to extremely low temperatures. At these low temperatures atoms exhibit very special properties. These can be used to create extremely accurate time standards and gyroscopes which will greatly improve the accuracy of GPS and inertial navigation systems. They can also be used to create the most sensitive magnetometers and gravimeters, which will lead to more accurate, less costly and more environmentally friendly resource exploration. To exploit these breakthroughs practical systems must be developed which can move laboratory demonstrations to real environments, such as on-board ships, submarines and satellites. The system being developed in the Freeze-Ray project will help to achieve this.

G&H’s Systems Technology Group (STG) will be developing a state-of-the art high power fiber laser emitting greater than 1 W at 780 nm. This will be accompanied by a high performance polarization maintaining (PM) fiber splitter network with collimators, designed to integrate seamlessly with the miniaturized vacuum system. The laser system will exploit G&H’s world leading photonic component technology, including high reliability fiber optic couplers, narrow linewidth lasers, periodically poled lithium niobate and fiber amplifiers.

“Freeze-Ray is an important project for the STG, demonstrating our ability to combine photonic packaging, photonic device miniaturization and laser manufacturing. The commercial applications for the technology will further strengthen G&H’s position of providing effective photonic engineering solutions.” Andrew Robertson, SVP Business Development and Head of the STG.

e2v will be using their considerable experience in the development of vacuum electronics to develop a compact, high performance vacuum chamber with an integrated magneto optical trap. The Midlands Ultracold Atom Research Centre at the University of Birmingham will be demonstrating the system in state-of-the-art atom cooling experiments.

The development of this commercial system and the constituent components is seen as a key step toward the commercialization of quantum technologies and will ensure that the UK stays at the forefront of this rapidly emerging field of technology.