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Where are you now? ColdQuanta links with Oxford location company

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Quantum technology is poised to revolutionise atomic clocks and positioning, following a partnership between ColdQuanta and an Oxford University spin-off.

Colorado-based ColdQuanta has announced a deal with LocatorX, which uses technology developed in Oxford (pictured) for advanced location tracking.

Together they will be able “to address common challenges such as clock drift, jamming resistance, radio silence management, signal acquisition speed and a reduction in code validity interval”, said the companies.

ColdQuanta is the company founded at the University of Colorado at Boulder and then funded when Dan Caruso was executive chairman and acting CEO. In an interview with Capacity last year Caruso, who earlier was the founder of Zayo, identified new positioning systems as one of the likely applications of quantum computing.

ColdQuanta described LocatorX as “the world’s most ground-breaking location tracking company”. It the “strategic partnership will enable the companies to jointly address an expanded range of atomic clock applications through the combination of ColdQuanta’s world class team and technology, and LocatorX’s affordable, small form factor, low power atomic clocks”.

LocatorX already works with military suppliers and has used its asset tracking software in several types of internet of things (IoT) devices.

“We are in a period where global instabilities are accelerating the demand for highly accurate atomic clocks that can be used across a wide variety of critical applications,” said Chester Kennedy, ColdQuanta’s president of research and security solutions.

Under the agreement, ColdQuanta will offer the US government access to what he called “a unique combination” using LocatorX’s solid-state miniature atomic clock and ColdQuanta’s team of “more than 80 physicists and engineers”, some of whom are based in Oxford.

Andrew Briggs, professor of nanomaterials in the Department of Materials at the University of Oxford, who is also LocatorX’s chief innovation officer, said: “The heart of the new technology is a miraculous molecule in which a single atom is incarcerated within a carbon cage. This enables the rich quantum properties of the atom to be harnessed in the solid state.”

He added: “Pioneering research at the University of Oxford led to the discovery of the resonant transitions which provide the underpinning science for robust accurate timekeeping, in a miniature low-power device.”