Earth-shattering research

Earth-shattering research

A new research programme at the University of Birmingham could help speed up the completion of major infrastructure projects.

The university’s Quantum Technology (QT) Hub, led by Professor Kai Bongs, will be running Masters and PhD courses from October, where students will work directly with industry to solve real-world problems.

The programme could revolutionise projects such as the next phase of high speed rail from Birmingham to Manchester, as well as help solve the problems in building homes, roads and rail links in ex-mining areas such as the Black Country.

Pre-construction groundworks which use traditional technologies to assess the quality of the land prior to building are time consuming and costly, adding up to £7 billion to the cost of construction projects in the UK every year.

But gravity mapping – which measures ground density to pinpoint potential problems – is limited by interference from ground vibrations, and a one-hectare gravity map showing sub-ground conditions would take just two to three weeks to measure.   

"Quantum gravity gradient technology enables much more precise mapping of sub-ground conditions and can speed up the process one hundred fold," said Professor Bongs.