none

DEFENCE DEPARTMENT FUNDS QUANTUM MECHANICS RESEARCH

16-04-2019
by 
in 
Professor Andre Luiten, University of Adelaide

Researchers from the University of Adelaide will develop three technologies after being named among 11 projects to share $6.6 million of funding from Australia’s Department of Defence.

The projects are underwater devices to detect submarines and an ultra-accurate portable clock to improve GPS satellite technology, as well as research into whether quantum radars can be used to detect stealth aircraft.

The funding consolidates the university’s Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS) as one of Australia’s leading centres for the development of quantum sensing and photonic technologies.

IPAS director Professor Andre Luiten says the funding also reaffirms the Department’s interest in developing quantum mechanic capabilities in South Australia.

“Everyone believes that there’s going to be a revolution over the next 20 years where quantum technologies end up in everything,” he says. “The initial objective is to provide those technologies to defence but it’s also about training up Australian students so they have an understanding of quantum technologies. Australia needs to build up its sovereign capability in this area and train students.”

The Department’s Next Generation Technologies Fund aims to develop Australia’s opportunities in quantum mechanics, which is based on the motion of subatomic particles and the interactions between them.

The first project will use magnetometers to track submarine activity by detecting variations caused by the presence of ferrous (unoxidized) iron in the total magnetic field.

“These magnetometers can detect very small magnetic fields,” Professor Luiten says. “The goal of this project is to build sensors that go on the seabed which detect the presence of submarines through their properties. You’d essentially set up a trip wire around assets that are of importance to Australia.”

The second project will harness billions of cold atoms to provide ultra-precise timing to improve the Deparment’s GPS technology.

University of Adelaide scientists will work with researchers from Griffith, Curtin, La Trobe and Queensland Universities to develop an optical clock that uses pure green light to tick 500 trillion times per second. This will be used to determine the locations of entities through assessing time signals emitted from satellites through ticking.

“This clock will improve the capabilities that determine location because as you can imagine Defence is very interested in knowing where its assets are,” says Professor Luiten. “It’s the same sort of idea – we’re looking at metal objects that have been moved behind a wall or looking for submarines.”

The third project will researching whether quantum radars can be used to detect stealth aircraft. Project lead Professor David Ottaway says quantum radar technology uses new states of light to detect things.

“It’s a real out-there project, so this is really an information gathering exercise at this point,” he says. “I’m highly sceptical but if this technology works we’d be able to use existing technology with less power.

“We’d also be able to use the technologies more sensitively so you can see our targets further away, and we’d solve the problem with active systems of when you illuminate something your subject can often track you and find out where you are.”

IPAS is also assisting Melbourne’s RMIT University with an additional project under the Next Generation Technologies Fund, which is designed to test the capabilities of diamonds detecting weak magnetic fields.

Related news & editorials

  1. 16.08.2019
    16.08.2019
    by      In
    South Australian defence industry SMEs have won more than $8 million in funding from the Defence Innovation Hub to provide the Australian Defence Force with a capability edge.
    Federal Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price says that this round of investments includes initial concept... Read More
  2. 16.08.2019
    16.08.2019
    by      In
    A new plasma coating for bone implants has been developed to help improve outcomes for patients by increasing the likelihood of an implant fusing to surrounding bone, and by reducing the chances of complications such as infection or rejection.
    An international research team, led by the University... Read More
  3. 16.08.2019
    16.08.2019
    by      In
    Communications company Motorola Solutions has appointed Con Balaskas as its new Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand. He has held multiple senior positions in a distinguished 20-year career with Motorola, and has played a pivotal role in the growth and expansion of the company’s managed... Read More
  4. 15.08.2019
    15.08.2019
    by      In
    Birdon America Inc, the US subsidiary of Port Macquarie maritime engineering and services company the Birdon Group, has been awarded two new contracts worth up to $575m, confirming its position as one of Australia’s foremost exporters to the US Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.
    One... Read More