The ASTERIQS project is developing precise sensors made from diamonds to measure quantities such as magnetic field, electric field, temperature or pressure.


All questions answered by researcher Thierry Debuisschert from Thales SA, France.

What do you want to achieve in this project?

ASTERIQS will use ultrapure, man-made diamonds that include special defects such as nitrogen vacancy (NV) centers. Their unique physical properties allow us to build uniquely precise sensors to measure quantities such as magnetic field, electric field, temperature or pressure. We will develop various instruments such as fully integrated scanning diamond magnetometers for nanometer scale measurements, high dynamic range magnetic field sensors to control advanced batteries used in electrical car industry, lab-on-chip Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) detectors for early diagnosis of diseases, magnetic field imaging cameras for biology or robotics, and instantaneous spectrum analysers for wireless communication management. ASTERIQS will thereby transform decade-long research activities in quantum sensing technologies into state-of-the-art sensing devices with various real-life applications.

How will European citizens benefit from this project, both from the technology developments it accomplishes as well as the basic science breakthroughs it may achieve?

ASTERIQS addresses both scientific and technological challenges for the benefit of European citizens. Our sensors will elucidate the structure of spin-based electronics devices, which will result in more energy efficient electronics, improve the control of batteries that are a bottleneck in the development of electric cars and make possible a better management of the frequency spectrum for increased data rate communications. Our sensors will give access to the chemical structure of single molecules by NMR techniques, which is a breakthrough in the development of new drugs and they will allow investigating new states of matter under high pressure.

Why is the Quantum Flagship important and why did you choose to become part of it?

The structure of the Quantum Flagship gives us a unique framework for intra-European collaboration in this research by bringing together the main European actors in the field. The financial support from the Commission will help a lot in developing the technology over a long period. A great challenge is the transfer of technology from the research lab to a pre-development stage. This will be fostered by establishing a close collaboration between academia and industry. The flagship is also a unique opportunity to disseminate the results towards academia and industry and educate the next generation of physicists and engineers.

How do you see the advancement of quantum technologies in the near future and what would be your ultimate dream in the long run?

Quantum technology holds the promise of understanding and controlling matter at the scale of a single quantum object such as an atom or a molecule. In addition, by completely controlling the environment of those objects, it will be possible to exploit so-called quantum superpositions, where the quantum object can be in two states at the same time, which allows for sensors with unprecedented sensitivity. Even more intriguingly, entangled states result in correlation between distant objects that are not possible classically, which allows for communications with proven security, teleportation of states and, in the longer term, quantum computers outperforming present supercomputers. Meeting these challenges can completely disrupt present-day technologies in communication, simulation, computing or sensing.