Quantum Technologies

The key aim of our Quantum Technologies programme in sensing and metrology is the development of portable:

  • Atomic clocks (cold atoms)
  • Rotation sensing (cold atoms)
  • Magnetometry (thermal atoms)

The cold atom experiments are aided by our expertise in grating magneto-optical traps. The general principle is described here (right), and highlighted in these news items: Nature Nanotech paper, May 2013 cover + News and ViewsStrathclyde News.

Grating Magneto-Optical traps (GMOTs).

We have extended our shadow-free 4-beam pyramidal magneto-optical trap into a planar geometry. A triplet of diffraction gratings are used to split and steer a single incoming beam into a tripod of reflected beams, allowing trapping in the four-beam overlap volume. Using the technique with our micro-fabricated gratings we trap and subsequently sub-Doppler cool 87Rb atoms to a recent record of 3μK.

Fresnel zone plates: In addition to a variety of one- and two-dimensional micro-fabricated spatially periodic patterns (gratings), we are investigating the use of micro-fabricated transmissive Fresnel holograms for creating arbitrary optical dipole potentials for atomtronics.


  • J.P. McGilligan, P.F. Griffin, R. Elvin, S.J. Ingleby, E. Riis & A.S. Arnold, Grating chips for quantum technologies, Sci. Rep. 7, 384 (2017).
  • J.P. McGilligan, P.F. Griffin, E. Riis, and A.S. Arnold, Diffraction-grating characterization for cold-atom experiments, JOSAB 33, 1271-1277 (2016).
  • J.P. Cotter, J.P. McGilligan, P.F. Griffin, I.M. Rabey, K. Docherty, E. Riis, A.S. Arnold, E.A. Hinds, Design and fabrication of diffractive atom chips for laser cooling and trapping, Appl. Phys. B 122 (2016).
  • V.A. Henderson, P.F. Griffin, E. Riis, A.S. Arnold, Comparative simulations of Fresnel holography methods for atomic waveguides, New J. Phys. 18, 025007 (2016).
  • J.P. McGilligan, P.F. Griffin, E. Riis, A.S. Arnold, Phase-space properties of magneto-optical traps utilising micro-fabricated gratingsOpt. Express 23, 8948-8959 (2015).
  • C.C. Nshii, M. Vangeleyn, J.P. Cotter, P.F. Griffin, E.A. Hinds, C.N. Ironside, P. See, A.G. Sinclair, E. Riis and A.S. Arnold, A surface-patterned chip as a strong source of ultracold atoms for quantum technologiesNature Nanotech. 8, 321 (2013).
  • M. Vangeleyn, P.F. Griffin, E. Riis, and A.S. Arnold, Laser cooling with a single laser beam and a planar diffractorOpt. Lett. 35, 3453 (2010).
  • M. Vangeleyn, P.F. Griffin, E. Riis and A.S. Arnold, Single-laser, one beam, tetrahedral magneto-optical trap, Opt. Express 17, 13601 (2009).