Current gas detection techniques are incredibly advanced – can we really do anything better? At Cambridge Consultants, we believe that the emerging atomic state control techniques of quantum sensors can offer improvements to a broad array of industries.

It's easy to make sense of ordered data, yet unfortunately the current world tends to be disordered. But it doesn't have to be. By using lasers and electromagnetic fields we can control the internal quantum state of atomic and molecular systems, allowing us to imbue order into an otherwise disordered system.

In this video, I explore how quantum state control can enable novel sensing modalities and enhance existing ‘classical’ techniques. If it’s an area of application engineering that sounds relevant to you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss the possibilities.



Many industries rely on gas sensing whether for direct detection and monitoring of toxic or explosive gases or as a proxy for a process control step. Being able to detect exactly which molecules are present and in what quantities is a common challenge.

Current gas detection techniques are incredibly advanced and fit for purpose, can we really do anything new in this field?

We believe that the atomic state control techniques demonstrated in the latest generation of quantum sensors can offer sensing improvements to industry users more broadly. 

The most powerful gas detection techniques involve measuring a molecular fingerprint in the acoustic, optical or microwave spectrum. Handheld instruments are available which can detect ppm concentrations of gas at kilometre standoff ranges, where much of the utility of such instruments relies on a high-quality reference library and careful data processing.

So how can state control help? Gas absorption spectra are not random they're defined by molecular symmetries.   Simple gases have a common structure comprising two forests of narrow absorption lines.   Each absorption line has a physical interpretation in terms of the internal state of the target gas.  

For example, each line of these rotational spectra adds or removes a quantum of angular momentum, and by understanding this interplay between our light field and the target gas we can engineer control over the internal state of the atoms leading to more sensitive detection or using the medium as a sensor itself.

By manipulating the internal state of the gas, we can alter the absorption spectrum which can increase the effectiveness of existing techniques and enable new ones. Vice versa by measuring how a prepared state evolves over time allows us to infer information about the environment.

At Cambridge Consultants we've been studying the opportunities that quantum technology is bringing to sensing markets and have invested in exploring the promises and limitations of the latest generation of quantum sensors. 
If this application engineering sounds relevant to your industry challenge, then please get in touch because we'd love to discuss the possibilities with you.

Mark Brannan
Senior Physicist

Mark is an experimental quantum physicist, with a PhD in atomic physics from the University of Birmingham. As an expert in rapid prototyping of instrumentation, Mark has developed hardware for cutting-edge fundamental research, industrial sensors and consumer products.