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The annual Wheatstone Lecture is hosted by the Department of Physics. It will be delivered online for the first time this year by Professor Sir Peter Knight FRS, Imperial College London, London & National Physical Laboratory. 

What’s Quantum Technology?

We live in a quantum enabled world, with devices powered by quantum mechanics affecting our everyday world (lasers, telecoms semiconductor chips and much more). But we are now poised to exploit a hitherto largely unexplored technology capability enabled by some of the stranger aspects of quantum physics: quantum coherence and entanglement. These new capabilities include novel sensing, timing, imaging and of course computing. Sir Peter will describe these new quantum coherence capabilities and plans to develop the next generation of quantum technologies.

Through a mix of government and industry funding, the UK has committed more than £1Bn over 10 years to a coordinated programme in quantum technology. Six years into this programme, Sir Peter will describe here how we got there, and our goals for the future. The lecture will describe how the programme arose and the activities it supported and influenced to deliver these new capabilities, building on a first phase of almost £480M investment across several UK government agencies. The UK programme now enters its second phase, with a further substantial investment by UK government and global industries in the UK making a total of over £1Bn. Sir Peter will describe its plans (and what is going on in this exciting area outside of the UK) for ensuring the advanced quantum science and demonstrator platforms in imaging, sensing, communications and computing developed over the past five years will drive the formation of the QT sector and embed quantum tech in a broad range of industries.


  • 16.30 - Welcome from the Head of Department - Professor Ruth Gregory
  • 16.40 - What’s Quantum Technology?
  • 17.25 - Questions & Discussion
  • 17.55 - End



Professor Sir Peter Knight is a Senior Research Investigator at Imperial College London. He retired in 2010 as Deputy Rector (Research) but remains an Emeritus Professor. He was knighted in 2005 for his work in optical physics. Sir Peter was the 2004 President of the Optical Society of America and a past President of the Institute of Physics. He is Editor of Contemporary Physics, Chair of the UK National Quantum Technology Programme Strategy Advisory Board, chairs the Quantum Metrology Institute at the National Physical Laboratory, was until 2010 Chair of the UK Defence Scientific Advisory Council and remains a UK Government science advisor. His research centres on quantum optics and quantum technology. He has won the Thomas Young Medal and the Glazebrook Medal of the Institute of Physics, the Ives Medal and the Walther Medal and Prize of the OSA, the Faraday Medal of the IET and the Royal Medal of the Royal Society.

Sir Charles Wheatstone

Sir Charles Wheatstone FRS (1802-75) was Professor of Experimental Philosophy at King's and was the first Professor in the Department from 1834 until his death in 1875. Polymath and self-taught son of a London-based musical instrument maker, Wheatstone conducted early experiments into acoustics and the transmission of sound. His greatest achievement was the development of the electric telegraph, which revolutionised communications in the 19th century. The Department of Physics has held an annual Wheatstone Lecture since 2013.

At this event

Professor Anatoly Zayats

Professor of Physics

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