New quantum technologies have the capability to outperform their conventional information technology (IT) counterparts, or to undertake tasks that aren’t possible with conventional IT. 

Quantum technologies achieve this through the application of one or more fundamental aspects of quantum physics, such as superposition, entanglement, conjugate variables, or the irreversibility of quantum measurement. This enables new capabilities in the sectors of computing, communications, timing, imaging, sensing, metrology, and the devices that support all these applications.

Concepts and ideas for quantum technologies began to emerge in the 1970s, continuing to the present day, but it is really progress in experimental quantum science in the last couple of decades that has turned these new technologies into reality. The scope and importance of quantum technologies for future economic and societal benefits is now recognised worldwide. Many nations, including the UK, are investing in substantial research and development programmes to exploit these benefits.

The York Centre for Quantum Technologies (YCQT) was founded in 2014 by its current Director, Professor Tim Spiller. This interdisciplinary centre is a partnership between the departments of Physics, Mathematics, Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, providing a focus for the continuation of York’s excellence in fundamental quantum science, engineering and mathematics, and for exploitation of all this research in the development of new quantum technologies. The formation of the YCQT has also underpinned York’s position leading the Quantum Communications Hub, also with Professor Tim Spiller as Director.

The Phase 1 Hub ran from 2014-2019 and the Phase 2 Hub is running from 2019-2024, as part of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme.

The YCQT continues to expand its membership, activities and partnerships. In 2020 Professor Marco Lucamarini was appointed both as Director of Research at the YCQT and as a new Chair in Experimental Quantum Communications, to lead a major expansion in York’s quantum technology portfolio. The YCQT vision is to support continuing advances of the University’s excellence in quantum science, engineering and mathematics, and to exploit and leverage these advances for the development of new quantum technologies and services.

At the fundamental level, YCQT research covers many areas of quantum science: from quantum cryptography and quantum networks to quantum information, processing and thermodynamics. All this builds from basic research on entanglement, teleportation, state reconstruction, quantum measurement and other key foundational aspects of quantum physics. Our study of physical implementations of all these phenomena encompasses light and matter: quantum optics, spins and charges in condensed matter systems and nanomechanical devices.

All this quantum science research provides the platform for our quantum technology investigations and development, and the study of new devices, materials and applications that can support these new technologies. The YCQT technology portfolio is wide-ranging, covering numerous application sectors: quantum computing and processing; quantum safe autonomy and machine learning; quantum sensing, imaging and metrology; quantum communications; quantum random numbers. In addition to terrestrial fibre-based or free-space applications, our work on quantum communications, sensing and imaging also addresses long distance space applications, utilising high altitude platforms (HAPS) and satellites.

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