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Oxford Instruments NanoScience: 2021 in review

With the value of time heightened by the lens of the pandemic, it feels especially important over the last few years to look back and appreciate the key milestones that have been achieved. In 2021, Oxford Instruments NanoScience made great strides forward in our participation in the acceleration of the commercialisation of quantum computing. We have progressed important customer projects, collaborated even closer with our customers and partners, as well as making exciting steps forward in our own product development and innovations, but even more exciting - bringing on board exceptional talent. From participating in industry events to producing an industry-leading documentary that showcases the importance of driving the debate of sustainability and quantum - there is a lot for us to be proud of and to celebrate. But, first, I would like to pause and thank our customers for their faith and custom, but also my team for their resilience and determination to make a difference.

"We have also partnered this year with the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE) to identify critical technical challenges and solutions in the quantum space through workshops, and provide student internships to discover our researchers of the future."

What’s new at Oxford Instruments NanoScience

In March, we launched our latest innovation – ProteoxLX. This product has been a well-received addition to our next-generation family of Cryofree® dilution refrigerators – it is more than a new kid on the block. The ProteoxLX shares the same modular secondary insert of our other refrigerators, with cross-compatibility and added flexibility to share secondary inserts as your quantum needs scale.

We also welcomed a new face to our team: Professor of Quantum Technologies Martin Weides who joined us in April to take up a new position as Consultant Technical Director alongside his role at the University of Glasgow. Martin joined us at an exciting time as we accelerated our efforts to support quantum innovation while enabling the larger quantum community to meet scale-up needs. His appointment has already supported the momentum Oxford Instruments NanoScience is building in quantum computing.

Earlier this year, we organised a virtual 360 VIP tour of our Proteox production facility in Oxford. Martin joined us for a live Q&A as part of this exciting event to talk about his experience with Proteox and the work that he and his team are doing. If you missed it, you can participate in the assembly tour here.

Creating a Sustainable Future

One of our other biggest debuts this year was our documentary, Quantum Technology | Our Sustainable Future. We made this in partnership with The Quantum Insider to feature leading global quantum experts demonstrating how sustainability needs to be a major focus of the industry as it develops. It is a must-see film that recognises the potential for quantum computing in this changing world, and shows what can be done with quantum to address global sustainability issues. Of course, the environmental challenges that we face are a vital discussion point in our world today. I attended COP26 this Autumn which also brought about debate on the significant damage our carbon footprint is having on our environment. It is an unpleasant truth, but one that we need to act on today - time is running out.

Partnering with industry-leading organisations and academia

At Oxford Instruments NanoScience, we are proud to have formed strategic partnerships to help support the industry’s journey towards quantum commercialisation. In November, we announced that we had been selected for three major Innovate UK projects with SEEQC, Quantum Motion and sureCore. We are really pleased to be working on these projects to accelerate important research and development. 

We have also partnered this year with the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE) to identify critical technical challenges and solutions in the quantum space through workshops, and provide student internships to discover our researchers of the future.

In addition to working with customers all over the world, in the UK, we delivered our next generation dilution refrigerators to the University of Glasgow for quantum scale-up and a 5th Triton to Oxford University to help them develop machine learning and autonomous qubit tuning. We also announced that University College Cork is going to be using Proteox as well as one of our high homogeneity 14T magnets for increased experimental capacity - to maximise scientific innovation. In addition, we announced updates to the programme that we are working with Rigetti on as part of the Innovate UK grant announced over a year ago. The delivery of our Proteox systems to OQC was a big personal step - which is now part of their Amazon BRAKT cloud offering – as I know that they will go far!

Across the pond, we have been working with the team at McGill University on the installation of their Triton which is now up and running for material research. We carried out some of this project remotely during COVID-19 which shows the true value of our LiveAssist offering during these difficult times. Meanwhile, Yale University took up a three-year services contract with us to maintain and support five of its cryofree dilution refrigerator systems. We have a great relationship with the team at Yale and this collaboration affirms the importance of technology support to keep research moving – so researchers can just focus on research.

Recognising the young scientists of today

We were all saddened by the passing of Sir Martin Wood, our Founder last month. One of the ways that we are looking to celebrate his life is by expanding the work that we do to recognise young professionals in quantum physics who are conducting leading research and making ground breaking discoveries. 

At the beginning of the year, Dr. Matthew Yankowitz of the University of Washington was awarded the 2021 Lee Osheroff Richardson Science Prize for his contributions to the field of moiré van der Waals heterostructures. Then in the Spring, Dr. Tino Gottschall, Group Leader at the Dresden High Magnetic Field Laboratory was awarded the 2021 Nicholas Kurti Science Prize. Dr. Gottschall’s efforts were rewarded for demonstrating his innovative work on magnetocaloric materials in the field of fundamental and applied sciences, as well as his passion for working with magnetic materials.

Dr. Anindya Das was the winner of our Young Nanoscientist India Award 2021 for his outstanding contribution to NanoScience research in India. And most recently, Dr. Atsushi Togo from the National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba became the winner of the 2021 Sir Martin Wood Prize. Dr. Togo’s development of open source software for phonon properties in materials science really caught our attention.

Overall, our winners have made significant contributions to vital research in low temperature physics, and we look forward to seeing where the next year takes them in their development.

In today’s world, we need research and innovation to continue. With 60 years of experience in products and support, partnerships with industry leaders, and quality research from young scientists all over the world, there is still a bright future ahead of us. I do believe in humanity’s capacity. And I hope 2022 will see the biggest discoveries in quantum commercialisation the world has seen yet!

By Stuart Woods, Managing Director of Oxford Instruments NanoScience

*First published by Stuart Woods on LinkedIn