Quantum in the City: the shape of things to come

2.00pm to 5.30pm, Saturday 16 November

The Theatre

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place


Standard £16


Concession £10


Ri Members and Ri Patrons £7

Event description

Quantum physics is not the realm of science fiction; quantum properties are driving the next generation of innovative technologies that will have an impact on society in the near future. From non-invasive medical imaging to unhackable data security, discover how the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme is translating quantum theory into real-world applications in a panel discussion with directors from the UK’s four quantum technology hubs and an interactive exhibition of these emerging technologies to get a glimpse of what living in a 'Quantum City' might be like.

This event is in partnership with stakeholders of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme

About the panel

The event will be hosted by Katia Moskvitch, Editorial Lead at IBM Research.

Joining her on the panel will be:

Miles Padgett, Principal Investigator for the QuantIC Hub

Kai Bongs, Director, UK Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology

Dominic O'Brien, Co-Director, NQIT (UK Quantum Technology Hub for Networked Quantum Information Technologies)

Tim Spiller, Director, UK Quantum Technology Hub for Quantum Communications Technologies


1.30pm - Doors to the building open. Audience goes to the theatre.
2.00pm - Panel discussion with leading UK experts followed by a Q&A session
3.00pm - Exhibition spaces open
5.30pm - Event close


The theatre is on the first floor and there is step-free access from the street via lift.

The closest underground station is Green Park, which is step-free.

There is space at floor level in the theatre for wheelchair users.

Seating is usually unreserved for our events. If you and your group require seating reservations, please do let us know by email and we’ll be more than happy to help. Email: events@ri.ac.uk.

Carers can receive a free ticket to an event by emailing events@ri.ac.uk.

Our theatre is equipped with an Audio Induction Loop. 

Hands-on activities

#1 MacroPhoton (Heriot Watt University/QComms Hub)
The MacroPhoton demonstrator is an interactive exhibit for quantum secure communications showing how so-called quantum key distribution can be used to randomly generate a secret key in two remote locations at once, and how any attempt by a malicious third-party to intercept the quantum states can be detected by the users.

#2 Secure Quantum Comms with Untrusted Equipment (UoYork/QComms Hub)
We are developing new quantum communication hardware that guarantees secure communications even when the transmitter and receiver devices trustworthiness is in doubt, e.g. during hacking attacks. The design of these devices is scalable for large multi-user networks, which are essential for building a Quantum Internet. 

#3 Quantum Money (UoCambridge/QComms Hub)
Find out about a new type of money (or secure tokens) that allows users to make decisions based on information arriving at different locations and times, and that could also protect e.g. financial transactions against attacks from quantum computers. 

#4 Atomic Architects (Heriot Watt University/QComms Hub)
A surprisingly simple technique is making the creation of useful new nanoscale devices possible. Different atomic layers can be precisely stacked to engineer man made crystals with distinct and exotic electronic and optical properties. These unique materials may be used to miniaturise devices, and make them cheaper and more flexible, as well as for developing completely new quantum technologies.

#5 Quantum Teleportation (TREL)
The process of quantum teleportation is represented on an interactive, wall-mounted panel. The participant can enter a short message, which they then “teleport” across the setup, animated via a series of LED strips. Quantum teleportation allows the routing of quantum signals between multiple participants, thus it is a key ingredient to a quantum network.

#6 Underwater 3D imaging (QuantIC)
Achieving high resolution images in highly​ scattering water using conventional cameras remains challenging due to the high optical attenuation​ levels. Use of innovative single-photon detection approaches has now allowed high-resolution image ​reconstruction in three dimensions under high levels of underwater scattering. Underwater optical imaging is a field of increasing interest in a range of applications areas, including offshore civil engineering, defence, and marine science. 

#7 Structured Digital Lighting (QuantIC)
Light-emitting diode (LED) based illumination has great prospect to underpin a ubiquitous wireless digital infrastructure accessible to fixed and mobile devices. Imaging using a single photon of light to do 3D video surveillance can improve public and personal safety at places such as airports or train stations. 

#8 Wee-g gravimeter (QuantIC)
In this exhibit you will see the "Wee-g" field prototype that is being readied for deployment on Mt Etna in 2020. Imagine using your mobile phone to predict volcanic eruptions, find oil and gas reservoirs and sense objects buried underground. Our sensor is so sensitive that it can do just that!

#9 Gas Sight (QuantIC)
Our gas camera can detect invisible methane gas and will be useful in helping the gas engineer detect faulty pipes around your house. 

#10 Ultra thin endoscope (QuantIC)
Endoscopes are used for medical imaging in detecting for example, cancer cells. It can be uncomfortable to have this inside your body and we have developed an ultra-thin version to make it more comfortable. 

#11 Looking around corners (QuantIC)
Augmented reality app demonstrating how LIDAR works. Our camera can detect objects that are hidden behind view. This can be useful as a feature to make autonomous vehicles of the future safer. 

#12 Intensity-correlated blue light (University of Bristol/QuantIC)
By correlating the intensity of light in the blue wavelength, this demo allows for ultra-low-noise measurement. Using practical imaging wavelengths with precision that non-quantum technologies can never match, we can measure photosensitive samples with reduced damage. This technology unlocks new capabilities in high-precision quantum imaging of biological samples at near-UV wavelengths for medical and life science applications. 

#13 Quantum Keys (University of Bristol)
Graphic novel detailing the history of quantum communications and quantum cryptography. 

#14 Optical Jigsaw and Quantum Chip (University of Bristol CDT)
How does light move and how can we use it in the modern world? Bend light and help it find the way to the other end of the optical jigsaw, then see how this is done on a chip. This demo explains the basic concepts around the movement of photons and shows how they might be harnessed for new technologies. 

#15 Practical Handheld QKD (University of Bristol/QComms Hub)
We show software specially developed to allow for interoperability of various devices for quantum secure communications. Using this toolkit, you can see how a local terminal can transfer encryption keys to a handheld device using a QR code. These keys can then be used to connect over WiFi to various nodes in a quantum network while maintaining unhackable security.

#16 Quantum gravity gradiometer (University of Birmingham/QSensors Hub)
We will demonstrate trapping and cooling of atoms in order to realise a quantum gravity gradiometer transportable by a drone. Such quantum sensors will be compact and highly accurate, which in turn is useful for applications in civil engineering, navigation, archaeology, oil and gas prospection, etc.

#17 Quantum Bingo (QRNGs – Imperial CDT)
The generation and use of random numbers is vital for internet security. However, random numbers generated by classical computers are fundamentally flawed as they are generated by generic algorithms and as such are not truly unpredictable. Therefore computers and internet transfers can be hacked; in contrast a quantum random number which uses the quantum properties of light to produce random numbers is vital as it is unhackable. 

#18 Trapped Ion Quantum Computer (University of Sussex/NQIT)
We will exhibit a trapped-ion quantum computer immersive experience which includes quantum computer microchips, a saddle trap which demonstrates the principles of ion trapping, and storyboards covering the applications of quantum computing. Quantum computing will impact almost every area where big computation is done, including drastically improving our ability to simulate molecules and atoms (pharmaceutical industry, material sciences), and expanding the capabilities of big data analysis through quantum algorithms designed for machine learning.

#19 Quantum Heart Sensor (University of Nottingham/QSensors Hub)
Quantum sensing has the potential to provide a new understanding of serious and debilitating conditions and, in turn, offers a new pathway for medical diagnosis. New quantum brain and body scanners measure the magnetic fields produced by electrical currents to an unprecedented accuracy, thereby offering a non-invasive window into the electrical activities in our body. Moreover, newly developed hybrid magnetic field sources and 3D-printed system components are making quantum sensors more accurate, efficient, and portable. At this exhibit, you will find out how quantum sensing works and what it means for modern clinical science.

#20 Quantum Ambassadors (University of York/QComms Hub/National STEM Learning Centre)
Quantum Ambassadors is a STEM delivered, comprehensive scheme of quantum-related CPD and classroom-based activities for A-level students and their science teachers, seeking to increase awareness and understanding of the importance and relevance of quantum technologies to UK society, culture and the economy. Come and find out more about how the scheme works, and have a look at some of the resources used in schools.

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