Quantum Wonderland: Quantum City at the New Scientist Live 2018 festival
Quantum physics has contributed to technology such as a lasers and semiconductors that run our computers and smartphones, and continues to inspire and drive innovation. The UK National Quantum Technologies Programme is a strategic investment aimed at making a positive difference by helping to accelerate the translation of emerging quantum technologies into wide-ranging applications across sectors: from healthcare, finance, energy use and telecommunications to imaging, security and computing.
Over four days in September, a cross-disciplinary team of researchers from several UK institutions will be bringing the Quantum City exhibit to New Scientist Live, the world’s biggest science festival, at ExCel London. Featuring many interactive demos, the team will showcase the transformative effect of these emerging technologies across all aspects of everyday life.
Visitors in the first two days will be able to see quantum imaging technology making the invisible visible, by using the speed of light to image 3D objects, detect invisible gas clouds and see how single photons enable us to look at things hidden around corners. Models of ion traps – the building blocks of future quantum computers – will be on show, demonstrating how scientists can use electric fields to trap ions and, in turn, harness computational power of unimaginable speed and magnitude. Prototypes of highly sensitive quantum sensors will highlight how scientists are exploiting the magnetic fields that surround us and tracking changes in the electrical charge flow to acquire measurements with sensitivities below 0.5 femtotestla (one hundred billionth of the Earth's magnetic field) for applications such as non-invasive medical imaging and the monitoring of cellular activity, geological surveying, archaeology, defence and improved understanding of novel materials and nanoengineered structures.
Over the weekend, the focus in the Quantum City stand will turn to the impact of the new generation of quantum technologies on communications and security. Visitors will be invited to put together their own giant LED jigsaw to manipulate light and build optical paths to transmit information. Through playing quantum bingo, they will learn how to manipulate photons – particles of light – through fibre beam splitters so that they can be “forced” to make a truly random choice due to the quantum nature of light and generate genuinely random numbers, a fundamental concept in data encryption. And they will use these same principles to exchange secret messages with their friends while also using quantum key distribution technology to detect attempted eavesdroppers (or “hackers”).
The Quantum City collection of exhibits can be found at stand no. 2059 within the Technology Zone of the New Scientist Festival at ExCel London from 20 to 23 September. For more information and to book tickets, visit: https://live.newscientist.com/