iXblue develops commercial quantum sensor for underground mapping

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The DQG is composed of a main sensor head standing at 175cm high, around 66 kg, connected to the ILS system, at around 33kg. The combined system can be operated with a power as little as 200W. Credit: iXblue

iXblue has developed an industrial quantum gravity gradiometer for applications in near-surface geophysics, civil engineering, and gravity-aided navigation. The system can detect a 40cm diameter pipe almost two metres under the ground.

The industrial prototype of the Differential Quantum Gravimeter (DQG) developed and validated by iXblue Quantum Sensors division can measure simultaneously the absolute values of both gravitational acceleration (g) and its vertical gradient (Γzz).

The gradient is more sensitive to mass anomalies at close vicinity of the sensor, while its immunity to vibrations makes it more sensitive to smaller objects. On the other hand, gravity is more sensitive to larger objects, further away. The fusion of the two datasets promises to remove the ambiguity between the determination of the mass of the gravity anomaly and its location.

'The prototype developed by iXblue is the first industrial solution in the world to offer this simultaneous measurement. Its resolution better than 1 Eotvos [vertical gradient Γzz is expressed in Eotvos (E), equal to 1nm/s²/m or 0.1µGal/m]  makes it capable of detecting very small anomalies while being non-invasive and not requiring a precise knowledge of the terrain’s topography,' explained Camille Janvier, quantum physicist at iXblue.

Janvier continued: 'The compactness of the DQG and the field-tested technology on which it is based, open the way to the deployment of this new quantum sensor in real environments in the near future, to investigate both spatial and temporal variations of mass distributions in the field.'

Further information

C. Janvier and al., Compact differential gravimeter at the quantum projection-noise limit, PRA (2022) / https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevA.105.022801

C. Janvier and al., Optimization and characterization of a differential quantum gravimeter, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria / https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-8513

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Preliminary testing of the quantum gravity gradiometer designed by Michael Holynski and colleagues at the University of Birmingham, which has now been shown to locate an underground tunnel with a positional accuracy of 20cm. Credit: Crown Copyright

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