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CSC Announces Two Magnetometer Projects

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Projects focus on magnetometers for measuring micro-defects and for high sensitivity magnetic field measurements in batteries

The UK's Compound Semiconductor Centre (CSC) has announced two new projects based around quantum sensing.

In July, it initiated a £1.9M project in collaboration with CST Global, Cardiff University, INEX Microtechnology, National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and the University of Nottingham to develop a compact laser pumped atomic magnetometer to detect defects in materials.

In August, CSC started work on a £5.5m project with nine industry and academic partners led by British battery manufacturer AMTE Power. CSC's focus is on developing high performance, compound semiconductor laser sources for quantum magnetometer, to enable high sensitivity magnetic field measurements to grade new batteries leaving the factory and reduce the time taken for the ageing process from weeks to days.

Wyn Meredith, CSC director commented: ‘These projects are the latest in a portfolio of innovative technologies that are translating quantum science into UK based manufacturing to address new global opportunities. It is essential that we continue to focus on exploitation of our word-class research to keep the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future.”

Laser pumped atomic magnetometer

The compact laser pumped atomic magnetometer is a novel sensor correlates the interaction between alkali-metal atoms and an external magnetic field to infer minute changes in surface structures. This allows the detection of micro-defects in materials and objects that are not visible or hidden from view under protective coatings. There is a wide range of applications including:

- Detection of corrosion under insulation which costs £4trillion globally in downtime and repairs

- In-line material characterisation and quality control across the >£1.5billion steel industry

- Accurate detection of underground assets to reduce excavation time and cost during repairs and maintenance- such as transmission lines, gas and water pipes

CSC project manager, Denise Powell commented: ‘The global Non-Destructive Test market is worth £7billion annually, and higher sensitivity in-line sensor solutions are desperately required to help meet the net-zero greenhouse gas target by 2050 via reducing fugitive emissions in aging infrastructure, and increasing materials production efficiency.'

Measuring magnetic fields for battery testing

For the second project, the new quantum sensing technology will cut the cost of production and provide additional capability in grading the quality of batteries for electric cars and other uses in the electrification revolution. An immediate application is integration in UK efforts to build a Gigafactory for battery production in the next few years, in anticipation of 50 percent of UK vehicle production being wholly or partially electric by 2030.

CSC project manager, Ali Anjomshoaa commented: ‘We need radically new methods of battery assembly, testing and screening to enable truly high-volume battery manufacture to meet the demands of electrification of transport. This project is a great example of the application of UK derived quantum science to address real-world problems and drive the future of the British automotive, transport and energy industries.'

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