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2019 Dennis Gabor Medal and Prize

Professor Kai Bongs for his contribution to the development of quantum sensors and the translation to industrial applications and the development of the UK National Quantum Technology (QT) Hub for Sensors and Metrology.


Head and shoulders photograph of Professor Kai Bongs. He's wearing glasses, a red striped tie, white shirt and dark jacket.

The investment into the UK National QT programme is now over £700M. This was a visionary move by the UK government to accelerate the transition from fundamental science into industrial application with the aim of placing the UK at the forefront of the development of technologies in which QT is embedded, and open an international market worth billions of pounds to UK companies.

To develop the translation opportunity associated with quantum physics in the development of sensors, Kai Bongs led and co-established the UK QT Hub for Quantum Sensors involving the Universities of Birmingham, Glasgow, Nottingham, Southampton, Strathclyde and Sussex. The academics work alongside over 100 industry partners including companies such as Teledyne-e2v and M-Squared lasers. To date they have delivered knowledge transfer in over 100 industry-partnership projects with a volume of over £87 million of additional funding in this area.

The focus has been the development of i) quantum based gravimeter which has potential for the development of underground sensing of civil infrastructure and passive navigation exploiting gravity maps, ii) development of a portable atomic clock with NPL, aiming to shrink a benchtop scale laser and vacuum apparatus to a scale which is both cheap, transportable and resilient, iii) the development of quantum based magnetometer with applications including medical imaging. The aim of the research is to improve the accuracy of measuring time, frequency, rotation, magnetic fields and gravity with applications, including electronic stock trading; GPS navigation; dementia research; and the mapping of pipework and cabling below the surface.

The QT sensing hub was established in 2014 and has a reputation for delivering what was intended at the original inception of the programme, ie working closely with business to develop sensors or technologies that exploit quantum physics. To date the key partners are: Dstl, BAEs, BP, BT, MBDA, Teledyne e2v, M-Squared, NPL, Kelvin Nanotechnologies and RAL. The delivery to date of the QT sensing hub has been impressive; from a standing start has £87M of new funding, 100 new collaborative projects with industrial partners and 15 new patent applications.

Bong's leadership has been central to the success of QT locally and nationally.

Read about our Silver Subject Medals.