MoD creates ‘coldest object in the universe’ to trump GPS By  11:57AM BST 15 May 2014



The MoD is pouring millions of pounds into research on a “quantum compass” that will be far more accurate than GPS and immune to jammers or hackers, with potential applications in everything from nuclear submarines to your next smartphone.

Quantum technology is already being explored in universities and companies worldwide for potential applications in communications and computation, but several UK academic projects backed by cash from the MoD are focusing on how it can be used in sensing and precision timing – both of which could lead to a “game-changing” navigation device. It could also give birth to the most precise clock ever created.

The whole field hinges upon an unusual field of physics called quantum mechanics which explores how particles on a sub-atomic level can act as both a physical particle and an electromagnetic wave at the same time.

Quantum TNS (timing, navigation and sensing) involves cooling atoms down to temperatures a billion times colder than outer space. Unlike GPS, which relies on triangulation from a network of satellites, it very accurately measures movements from a known position to keep track of location.

With the first products expected in the next five years, its potential impact on the electronics, defence and telecommunications could be huge.

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