The device could have multiple applications including sinkhole detection, exploring disused mineshafts and mineral extraction.
The Gravity Sensing team from the University of Birmingham, UK, has made successful outdoor measurements with their quantum gravimeter for the first time. The quantum gravimeter, designed and built in the laboratories at the Birmingham campus, represents a significant step towards developing robust quantum technologies for use in the real world. The Gravity Imager is intended to provide higher sensitivity and reliability for multiple applications, while also reducing measurement time through enhancing the robustness to external noise sources.
The technique of gravity mapping is already used by civil engineers for carrying out surveys and detecting underground features. Potential applications for the gravimeter include detection of sinkholes, mineral exploration and extraction, satellite climate change monitoring and surveying disused mineshafts. Gravity and the gravitational field are directly affected by mass, and any changes in mass cause variations in the gravitational field. The impact of any change is extremely small and so detecting it can be challenging. Using quantum technologies, academics are improving signal detection sensitivity and making compact instruments that are resistant to noise, drift and constant recalibration.
The team’s initial goals are to take gravity sensor devices out into a real working environment and carry out detailed comparisons with existing state-of-the art commercial devices. Achieving these goals will show potential end-users what they can expect from quantum technology.
Technology offers a breadth of opportunity in niche markets, and trials are often essential to ensure quality and consistency. In the similar sector of the scientific wonders the world has to offer, the new Raspberry Shake claims to better detect Earth movement and the world’s tiniest satellite was recently built. How else could technology assist with discovering the world?