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Quantum Technology gravity sensors - Seeing through the Ground

Project Description

One challenge with existing gravity measurements is associated with the time-consuming and complex post-processing required to convert the measured data into meaningful gravity information in order to produce initially 2D gravity maps. This currently prohibits real-time data processing producing gravity maps on site as well as limits survey optimisation as there is no direct feedback loop between the survey methodology and any buried features. This project aims to create real-time gravity maps using quantum technology gravity gradiometer data which requires both a new quality control of the data as well as data fusion on site to remove any unwanted signal. This will transform the operational capability of gravity surveying through efficient data rejection and enabling novel gravity survey methodologies which can be dynamically targeted, facilitating drastic reductions in information feedback to users.

The work will consist of initially analysing QT gravity gradiometer data obtained to date in controlled experiments in the laboratory and the field using the gravity imager sensor to better understand quality control and quality assurance of the gradiometer data which will support measurements at a higher frequency as less individual fringes are needed. This will be followed by field trials with known buried assets and the National Buried Infrastructure Facility (NBIF). These tests will be conducted using sensors such as the QT hub gravity gradiometers being developed in phase II of the sensing and timing hub and the Gravity Imager gradiometers alongside traditional geophysical and auxiliary sensors (e.g. laser for topography, seismometers) to develop real-time processing methods leading to on-site gravity maps.

More information on the quantum technology work led by the University of Birmingham can be found here:

Within civil engineering we now have an exciting research group spanning the quantum technology gravity sensing application field working in close collaboration with our colleague sin Physics. The successful applicant will have a supervisor from civil engineering and one from Physics.

Funding Notes

This is a fully funded PhD at Home rates with some additional funding for attending a conference and consumables. The funding is from Dstl and any successful student will need to be approved by Dstl.


Boddice, D., Metje, N., Tuckwell, G. (2019). Quantifying the Effects of Near Surface Density Variation on Quantum Technology Gravity and Gravity Gradient Instruments. Journal of Applied Geophysics. Vol. 164, pp. 160-178.

Boddice, D., Metje, N., Tuckwell, G. (2017). Capability Assessment and Challenges for Quantum Technology Gravity Sensors for Near Surface Terrestrial Geophysical Surveying. Journal of Applied Geophysics, Vol. 146, pp. 149-159.

Hinton, A., Perea-Ortiz, M., Winch, J., Briggs, J., Freer, S., Moustoukas, D., Powell-Gill, S., Squire, C., Lamb, A., Rammeloo, C., Stray, B., Voulazeris, G., Zhu, L., Kaushik, A., Lien Y-H., Niggebaum, A., Rodgers, A., Stabrawa, A., Boddice, D., Plant, S.R., Tuckwell, G.W., Metje, N., Bongs, K., Holynski, M. (2017). A portable magneto-optical trap with prospects for atom interferometry in civil engineering. Philosophical Transactions A Royal Society A375 (2099), 16p

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Civil and Construction Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 18.10

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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