New £2m ultra-quiet labs will boost technology at Lancaster University

Lancaster University vice-chancellor Prof Mark E Smith.
Lancaster University vice-chancellor Prof Mark E Smith.

Lancaster University has begun work on a £2m suite of ultra-low noise laboratories, IsoLab, which will provide the most advanced environments in the world for the expanding field of quantum technology.

IsoLab will house three isolated laboratory spaces where vibration, noise and electromagnetic disturbance will be drastically reduced to give an “ultra-clean” experimental environment.

The building will be embedded in the ground and separated from other buildings to ensure that the three 50-tonne experimental platforms are as completely isolated as possible from the surrounding environment.

These laboratories will allow the operation of the extremely sensitive quantum systems and devices which promise to provide the transformative technology of the future.

They will provide capability and access both for the University and industry in, for example, quantum optics, nano-machinery, quantum encryption, extreme microscopy and also provide the lowest temperatures available for cooling quantum systems.

The project leader is Dr Richard Haley of the Department of Physics.

At a ceremony to celebrate the start of the works, the Vice-Chancellor Prof Mark E. Smith said: “This unique facility will provide a world-beating environment for modern quantum technology and provide support for this field not only for the university, but also for the northwest region and beyond.”

It has been funded by the university and by substantial contributions from the Wolfson Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the J. P. Moulton Foundation.

A further sum approaching £1m has been awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council for the first tranche of equipment and instrumentation.

The facility is being built by Eric Wright Construction Ltd.

IsoLab will open in the autumn.