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    Critical Thought

    Critical thoughts on quantum technologies

    Henriksen Collaborating on Cutting-Edge Quantum Sensors

    ByByron Bekker

    Nov 17, 2023
    Henriksen Collaborating on Cutting-Edge Quantum Sensors

    Erik Henriksen, an esteemed physicist and associate professor of physics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has joined forces with a team that recently secured funding from the National Science Foundation’s Quantum Sensing Challenges program. This funding is dedicated to supporting groundbreaking advancements in quantum systems.

    Under the leadership of the University of Nevada, Reno, the team aims to revolutionize rotation sensors by utilizing a combination of helium-4 and 2D materials. Through the creation of a specialized membrane, equipped with atomic-scale pores, a Josephson junction (a weak connection) will be formed between superfluid reservoirs. This state-of-the-art design will be brought to life by Henriksen, who will fabricate a central component of the device – an atomically thin material incorporated with incredibly minuscule nanometer-sized holes.

    The primary focus of this ambitious project is to develop an exceptionally high-precision sensor for detecting rotations using superfluid helium. By leveraging unique techniques pioneered by Henriksen’s team at Washington University, the research builds upon the groundbreaking work of Keith Schwab at the California Institute of Technology. The potential applications of this innovative technology are manifold, ranging from GPS positioning without reliance on satellites to real-time monitoring of Earth’s rotation.

    Henriksen’s active involvement in the Center for Quantum Leaps, a prominent initiative within the Arts & Sciences strategic plan, further cements his commitment to pushing scientific boundaries and driving progress in the field.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    1. What is a rotation sensor?
    A rotation sensor, in the context of this project, refers to a device that accurately measures and detects rotational movements or changes.

    2. What are Josephson junctions?
    Josephson junctions are weak connections formed when two superconductors are separated by an insulating barrier or a non-superconducting material. They have fascinating properties that allow the flow of electrical currents without the presence of voltage.

    3. What is a nanometer?
    A nanometer is a unit of length equal to one billionth of a meter. It is often used to measure extremely small distances or the size of particles at the atomic or molecular scale.

    4. What is superfluid helium?
    Superfluid helium is a unique state of matter that exhibits zero viscosity, meaning it flows without any resistance. It is formed when helium is cooled to extremely low temperatures, close to absolute zero.

    – Washington University in St. Louis: source.wustl.edu