Many sectors of society and the economy are now heavily reliant on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). However, GNSS has several underlying vulnerabilities and cannot be used under- water or underground. In these situations, Inertial Navigation Systems (INSs) can act as a reliable alternative. These self-contained devices reconstruct the trajectory of a vehicle being tracked by measuring its acceleration and rotation rate. A complete INS combines measurements from three orthogonal accelerometers and three orthogonal gyroscopes. Together with knowledge of the vehicle’s starting position, its current location can be calculated, without the need for an external reference. Conventional systems use high precision classical sensors, however long-term performance is currently limited by scale factor and bias drifts.
With their high-accuracy and long-term stability, cold atom interferometers have the potential to substantially improve long-range inertial navigation. At Imperial College, we are developing such systems for use in quantum enhanced INSs. Clouds of rubidium-87 atoms are cooled to ultra-cold temperatures then split, reflected, and recombined using stimulated Raman transitions to make an atom interferometer for inertial sensing.
Here, we describe our recent work developing a ruggedised quantum accelerometer for navigation. Our new system contains the laser for cooling and trapping atoms and driving Raman transitions, a science chamber for atom interferometry, and all the electronics and control systems, packaged into a transportable system for deployment outside the laboratory.
|Presenter name||Henry Sewell|
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