Components at the heart of the quantum future

KNT are a globally recognised supplier of quantum devices and components. The fabrication of these complex devices is underpinned by our breadth and expertise in processing different materials across a range of dimensions from tens of nanometres upwards.  

The components currently within our portfolio include the following:

Magneto Optical Trap Gratings

A Diffractive Optical Element that improves ease of alignment, setup and miniaturisation for cold atom source creation compared to conventional 6-beam MOTs.

The technology requires only a single laser beam and can be used inside or external to the vapour cell; making the flexibility of quick change cold atom experiments possible. The grating MOT (gMOT) has gained much interest from the Quantum Technology community and is envisaged to become the heart of quantum systems utilising cold atoms for timing and sensing applications. 

This work was published in Nature Nanotechnology.

Lasers tuned to atomic transitions

We have developed the fabrication process for narrow line width 780 nm DFB lasers for trapping and cooling of atoms e.g. Rubidium within a vapour source for the generation of Bose Einstein Condensates down to temperatures in the microkelvin regime. 

These lasers will be utilised for atom cooling and interrogation for quantum enabled precision timing and sensing applications.


Micro Ion Traps

These 3D micromachined ion traps enable the trapping of multiple ions and will form the foundations of future quantum computers. They were first reported by NPL in the journal Nature Nanotechnology and are now produced at the wafer scale by KNT. This wafer-scale process was co-developed with NPL and Optocap. 

The animation shows the fabrication process – 1) definition of surface electrodes, 2) deep SiO2 etch, 3) Ohmic electrode formation, 4) Silicon etch to form cavity, 5) internal electrode metallisation and 6) thickening of electrodes.

Microfabrication of ion traps ensures reproducibility of device dimensions, scalable manufacture and supply.

Wee-g: portable gravimeter

A MEMS technology that is complementary to quantum gravimeters enabling a reference, low power, no need for calibration, deployable, sensitive device. The process approach permits device performance (sensitivity, frequency) to be readily tuned to the application. It can be used to measure small variations in density underground to create gravity images valuable in fields such as energy, civil engineering, defence and environmental monitoring. Devices could also be used to survey geophysical explorations using drones instead of plane or alternatively networks of gravimeters could be positioned around volcanoes to monitor the intrusion of magma that occurs before eruption – acting as an early warning system.

This technology was reported in the journal Nature demonstrating its use in the measurements of earth tides.


KNT has been supplying quantum components for over 5 years to OEMs, Academia and national measurements and standards institutions (i.e. National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)). The breadth of expertise and capabilities at KNT have enabled us to establish a growing portfolio of components for quantum technology applications; gaining recognition in high profile journals.

Cold atoms formed in Magneto Optical Traps are a key component of quantum-based technologies and are anticipated to be used for future precision timing and sensing for space and global navigation systems; timing for financial trading systems; synchronisation and timing of data networks; and inertia and gravitational sensing. We produce atom chips that enable laser cooling with a single laser beam to significantly reduce the overall device volume, optical access requirements and apparatus complexity and cost. The reduction of size, weight and power of atom cooling apparatus are critical to realise the commercial potential of quantum systems.

With the ambition to significantly reduce the form factor of atomic quantum devices using chip-scale technology, we have partnered with NPL and Optocap to produce wafer scale microchip devices for the confinement of atomic ions. Their unique set of performance characteristics, together with the scalable fabrication techniques used to produce them, render them an excellent platform for an elementary component in atomic quantum technologies. Clocks, sensors and scalable superpositions and entanglement will benefit. This points the way towards the integration of these devices in future atomic quantum instruments for computing.

Additional areas of development include DFB lasers operating at 780 nm for chip-scale atomic systems. The technology is the basis for miniature lasers systems for practical and portable cold atom clocks, inertial sensors, rotation sensors, quantum navigators, magnetometers and electrometers and could ultimately be in every mobile phone.

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