All questions answered by Prof. Dr. Florian Schreck from the Universiteit van Amsterdam, Netherlands.
What do you want to achieve in this project?
The main objective of the iqClock project is to kick-start a competitive European industry for optical clocks as well as to strengthen and accelerate the pipeline of clock development. These clocks, making use of quantum technology, will be ultra-precise and have many applications in science, technology and society. For most applications, transportable, simple-to-use and affordable, optical clocks are needed and we expect our project to make a significant step towards providing them.
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?
Optical clocks are amazingly stable frequency standards, which would be off by only one second over the age of the universe. They will have a large impact on telecommunication, network synchronisation, traffic bandwidth and GPS free navigation. Besides these technological developments that European citizens will benefit from, there will also be scientific applications. These will range from ones that have immediate societal impact, to ones that broaden our general knowledge of the universe: in geology (underground exploration, monitoring of water tables or ice sheets), astronomy (low-frequency gravitational wave detection, radio telescope synchronisation) and potentially even uncovering physics beyond the standard model.
Why is the Quantum Flagship important and why did you choose to become part of it?
The Quantum Flagship provides the funding and infrastructure to set up and manage a broad European network consisting of both academic and industry partners. We are convinced that over the next decade, quantum technologies will start making their way into everyday life more and more, and optical clocks are an important example of a technology that could be a front-runner in this development. Therefore, becoming part of the Quantum Flagship initiative was a no-brainer.
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 technologies will slowly enter everyday life over the next year. The optical clock is an example of a technology that is ready to make the transition from academic applications to the commercial market: our ultimate dream is to get to the point where these clocks are small, light and affordable enough that they can become widely commercially available. A second dream is to develop superradiant clocks, a never-before realised type of optical clock that promises to enable even more robust, stable and integrated timekeeping.