Research into navigation, communication, high speed computing, and oil exploration is to be given a boost with the opening of the Quantum Metrology Institute today.
The government-funded facility is located at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, and will provide a foundation for what is hoped will become a £1bn industry in the coming decades.
Quantum science is the study of how light and matter behave and interact at a fundamental level and further investigation has the potential to revolutionise many areas of technological advancement.
Physical interactions between particles and photons at a quantum level often exhibit unexpected behaviours that have no parallel in normal life, allowing for the development of completely new applications.
The Institute will undertake research into new measurement techniques and fundamental standards to allow for the testing and validation of new quantum technologies.
It is hoped it will help to secure the confidence and investment necessary to commercialise new products.
A number of common technologies, including flash memory, superconductors and LED lighting already make use of quantum properties.
The Institute will be linked to four new hubs at the universities of Birmingham, Glasgow, Oxford and York which will be funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council from a £270m investment in quantum technologies announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement of 2013.
Professor Peter Knight, chair of the Quantum Metrology Institute, said: “Because quantum technologies are based on very advanced and extraordinary physics, validation is crucial to getting investors and industry on board to accelerate the commercialisation of them.
“As the UK’s home of measurement, with over one hundred years’ experience in helping new technologies make the jump from lab to market, National Physical Laboratory is the best place for this testing and validation to be conducted to ensure that the UK can start benefitting from amazing new technologies as soon as possible.”
The National Physical Laboratory hopes that the Institute can be expanded in the future with further high specification laboratories and new buildings dedicated to quantum metrology.