12 June 2017 16:14

One of the most advanced facilities in the world for quantum technology has been opened by the Chief Executive of the EPSRC.

Professor Philip Nelson unveiled a plaque commemorating the opening of Lancaster University’s IsoLab, which provides three isolation laboratories for an "ultra-clean" experimental environment.

He said he had been impressed by his tour of the building.

“This is a prime example of what the UK can offer in science and technology and I congratulate the University for this investment in quantum technology which has huge potential.”

The laboratories enable the operation of extremely sensitive quantum systems and devices which will enable the technology of the future.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark E. Smith said: “This unique facility is a world-beating environment for modern quantum science and technology. It provides support for this field not only for researchers in the University, but also for partners and businesses.”

IsoLab provides capability and access for the University and industry in, for example, quantum optics, nano-machinery, quantum encryption, extreme microscopy and also provides the lowest temperatures available for cooling quantum systems.

Built completely to order, its unique features include three 50 tonne platforms sitting inside a 350-ton concrete tank in order to drastically reduce any vibration, noise and electromagnetic disturbance.

Professor Richard Haley, the Inaugural Director of IsoLab said: “We put together a team of scientists, and guided by the expert advice of Professor George Pickett, FRS, worked with the designers and builders to create a purpose-built facility which has some really innovative elements.”

IsoLab was funded by the University and by substantial contributions from The Wolfson Foundation, J P Moulton Charitable Foundation and the Garfield Weston Foundation

A further sum was awarded by the EPSRC for the first tranche of equipment and instrumentation.

Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation Paul Ramsbottom said: “The Wolfson Foundation funds excellence in scientific research based on independent expert review, and we were enormously impressed by the ambition and vision of the IsoLab project.

“These sophisticated facilities will allow the world-class team of researchers at Lancaster to study an impressive range of questions. We were delighted to be one of the early funders to the project, supporting the vision of the University as it makes a globally significant impact in fundamental physics.”

Lancaster University Alumnus Jon Moulton of the J P Moulton Charitable Foundation said: ““It’s a pleasure to help to build a facility which might just enable our knowledge of the universe to progress a little.”

Philippa Charles, Director of the Garfield Weston Foundation, said the trustees were impressed with the work of the Physics Department which is why they decided to support its “cutting-edge work in the field of quantum technology".

The facility, built by ADP Architecture and Eric Wright Construction, follows on from the recent total refurbishment of the Department of Physics.