Quantum systems can be exceptionally sensitive probes of electric, magnetic, gravitational and inertial forces. The aim of this research is to exploit that sensitivity to make useful sensors of unprecedented precision and accuracy.

One important application area is inertial navigation. This method of navigation relies on accurate accelerometers and gyroscopes. We are developing ultracold atom interferometers for use as accelerometers in navigation systems. Atoms make excellent sensors of acceleration, free from drift and calibration error. 


Atoms and MEMS

Ion trap


We measure miniscule accelerations in order to detect gravity, and for navigation. We closely work with DSTL and our industry partners including M-Squared Lasers and Cold Quanta.

Hinds Group

Cotter Group

MEMS devices

Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS)

We fabricate low-noise mechanical oscillator sensors which achieve the highest sensitivity in the world for a micromachined inertial sensor, and can detect at the quantum level. Our seismic sensors are due for launch to Mars this year on NASA’s InSight mission.

Yeatman Group

Pike Group

Opto and nano mechanics

optomechanics setup

Quantum Optomechanics

Our cantilevers are close to the quantum limit, and we have also developed a new and powerful scheme to characterise them. These devices can be used for sensing extremely weak forces.

Vanner Group

Kim Group



Quantum Nanophotonics

With nanophotonics, not only do interactions become stronger and faster but also weak effects once difficult to detect are dramatically enhanced. The result is extreme sensing capability, with localised surface plasmonics at the quantum level. Our goal is to utilize nanophotonics to realize new capabilities in sensing.

Oulton Group

Maier Group