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Quantum Sensing Technology and Its Impact on the Manufacturing Industry

In this article, we will discuss the types of quantum sensing technologies, their impact on manufacturing, and where the field is headed. Believe it or not, quantum sensing is a field of technology that has been around for more than 50 years and is now widely used in lasers such as LIDAR, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and photovoltaic cells.


Although society is already enjoying the benefits of these technologies, they are not as well known as the widely discussed quantum computing and quantum communications. The oft-cited “quantum advantage” refers to the ability of quantum computers to solve problems in very short periods of time, making previously impractical and complex problems feasible. Quantum communications are often discussed in the context of cybersecurity. Both areas are growing rapidly, but are still several years away from becoming ubiquitous.


The main approaches to quantum sensing are photonics and solid-state systems. Photonics deals with the manipulation of light in a variety of ways, while solid-state systems deal with sensors that are in a known quantum state that changes as a result of interaction with a stimulus (what you want to measure). Within these approaches, quantum sensing technologies fall into five different categories and have complementary strengths.

(1) Quantum Imaging - the use of quantum lidar/radar to detect moving or hidden objects, with the best known application area being national defense.

(2) Quantum Electromagnetic Sensors - These sensors measure dynamic electromagnetic fields using nitrogen vacancy centers, atomic vapors, and superconducting circuits. They are also used in defense applications, but are also used in healthcare, such as MRIs.

(3) Gravimeters & Gradiometers - They measure the strength and variation of the gravity field, respectively. Current applications include geophysical phenomena in the subsurface and are mainly used in the energy sector to find reservoirs.

(4) Thermometers & Barometers (Measuring Temperature & Atmospheric Pressure, Respectively) - these specialized tools are much more sensitive than those normally used, and achieve higher accuracy in critical applications such as submarines or aircraft through the use of cold atom clouds and superconducting quantum interface devices.

(5) Specific Sensing Applications With Quantum Computing or Communications or A Combination of Both - these applications need to be further developed as quantum computing and communications technologies mature.


Initially, quantum sensing technology was used in products we commonly see today, such as digital cameras. The next generation of quantum sensing technology that becomes commercially available will benefit manufacturers in a number of ways: by providing extremely high sensitivity in measurements where precision and accuracy are required, and by the regular emergence of new use cases in the aerospace, biomedical, chemical, automotive, and telecommunications industries. This is possible because these sensors utilize the quantum properties of systems to measure small physical changes and features in those systems.


The next generation of quantum sensing technology is designed to be smaller, lighter, and more cost-effective than its predecessor, and offers incredibly high measurement resolution compared to traditional sensing technologies. Early use cases include quality control measurements on high-quality products by identifying tiny defects, rigorous measurements on precision products, and non-destructive testing by measuring what’s hidden under the surface.


Current barriers to the adoption of next-generation quantum sensing technologies include development costs and time, which could delay adoption across the industry. Other challenges include integration of new sensors with existing data frameworks and standardization within the industry – issues that mirror many of the challenges of adopting and assimilating emerging technologies. Industries that are less price-sensitive and will benefit the most will take the lead. Once the defense, biotech, and automotive industries have demonstrated applications and business cases for these sensitive technologies, additional use cases will emerge as the technology evolves and scales. Methods and techniques for measuring at higher resolutions will become even more important as the manufacturing industry adopts new technologies to improve accuracy and flexibility without sacrificing quality or productivity.


It is important to focus on the benefits that can be realized by combining other leading technologies with quantum sensing, such as wireless networks. Manufacturing-related industries, such as construction and mining, will also benefit. If technology can develop these sensors to be small and cheap enough, they could potentially make their way into your smartphone as well.

Post time: Jan-30-2024