Quantum Computing

Infleqtion Demonstrates High-Performance Miniature Quantum Sensor Technology for Measuring Acceleration


Optical Interferometer Sensor Diagram.
Credits: Infleqtion and University of Colorado, Boulder

One potential killer application for quantum sensors is building devices that can provide accurate navigation without the use of GPS satellite systems. For the military, this is an important objective because adversaries may try to block GPS signals by interfering with radio signals or other means. But for civilians too, it can be useful. For example, when someone drives a car downtown where the GPS signal is blocked by tall skyscrapers.

So there is active research into using quantum technology to create non-GPS navigation systems. There are several different approaches to doing this. One could be based on highly sensitive magnetic or gravity sensors that can detect small changes in the Earth’s magnetic or gravitational fields. Combine that with a previously generated map of the Earth’s magnetic or gravitational field and it can calculate where the sensors are. Another approach is to combine a very accurate accelerometer together with a very accurate clock that can calculate position using a known starting position, the acceleration profile that the device has taken since leaving the starting position, and time information. Such a system is called inertial navigation system.

Infleqtion and the University of Colorado, Boulder have researched a quantum-based inertial sensor device using a machine-designed optical lattice atomic interferometer. This device can perform interferometry in an optical lattice formed by standing light waves. As can be seen in the image above, the device consists of a one-dimensional array of Rubidium atoms that are vaporized and loaded into a magneto-optical trap (MOT). By shining a different laser onto the array and observing the resulting image with the camera, the system can use AI-based gain learning and control techniques to calculate acceleration. The advantages of Infleqtion’s approach are that it can be reconfigured in real-time with software control, has a compact form factor, can be scaled for higher sensitivities, and is very robust.

Infleqtion has provided a press release explaining how accessible this accelerometer technology is Here. Also, a technical paper explaining the technology in greater detail has been posted on arXiv and is available for viewing Here.

June 9, 2023


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