QLM’s expansion has continued in recent weeks, with the switch to new, larger premises in Bristol, and the incorporation of the company in the USA.
The collaboration of QLM with Bay Photonics within SPLICE has already started to yield success, with the completion and testing of the new transceiver design for the commercial release of the quantum gas camera.
Alex and James travelled down to Paignton earlier this month – taking care to remain safe at all times, of course – to visit Bay’s site and to carry out work on the build/test rig that has been designed solely for the purposes of the transceiver development.
The transceiver incorporates the majority of the optical components of the camera, including the laser source itself, mirrors, lenses, and the novel single-photon avalanche detector (SPAD) that catches the returning scattered light. The previous design had all the classic traits of a laboratory prototype – it was large, it had a degree of complexity, and it made use of some bespoke components. The new design not only serves to miniaturise the transceiver while simplifying what is inside the box, but also makes use of off-the-shelf components where at all possible. Using readily available components not only helps to future-proof the equipment, but also to ensure that the lead time remains low, which will be crucial as the project proceeds towards the equipment being manufactured in bulk.
Bay Photonics’ considerable expertise in the area of optical design and manufacture makes the otherwise exceptionally complicated task of rightsizing and rationalising a complex transceiver unit seem simple – which, of course, it is anything but. Before any form of manufacture could begin, the design had to be stripped down and reimagined on a much smaller chassis, incorporating all of the functionality of the larger unit but in a fraction of the space. From that design, the bespoke build and test rig could be assembled, and this in turn enables lens positioning and alignment, laser characterisation, and performance analysis of the completed units. As a result, every transceiver is lovingly handled from the loose components through assembly, testing, and all the way through to acceptance of the completed unit.
With still so long to run in the project, the relationship between QLM and Bay Photonics looks set to produce multiple ground-breaking evolutions of gas sensing lidar equipment. Each of these has the potential, when combined with the other expertly produced parts of the camera system, to revolutionise the gas sensing capabilities of one user or another. If the quality of the work is as consistent as Bay’s, and there is no reason to believe it won’t be, there will be a lot of revolution to go round.
And in other news…
Following a very productive internship in the R&D team, Lauren Manton has joined QLM on a permanent basis as an R&D Engineer.
On the eve of COP26, QLM carried out the first trial of the quantum gas camera at a real-world site, hosted by SPLICE Project industrial partners National Grid Gas and supported by the National Physical Laboratory.