ColdQuanta Wins NASA Entrepreneur’s Challenge


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ColdQuanta, the quantum atomics company, was awarded a $100K prize as one of six winners of NASA’s Entrepreneur’s Challenge. According to NASA, “The challenge’s purpose is to invite fresh ideas for development of new instruments and technologies to advance the agency’s science exploration goals and increase participation by entrepreneurial companies in the agency’s technology portfolio.” Over 80 companies submitted proposals under this program. 

ColdQuanta’s proposal is to use its cold atom technology to develop a compact, low-power quantum gravity sensing device that can be deployed in space on board a small satellite. Such a device will extend NASA’s ability to:

Support earth monitoring by accurately mapping resources (e.g., water) related to climate change

Aid in assessing the impact of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and floods,  through the detection of mass change events that can remain hidden to other techniques (e.g. synthetic aperture radar or laser altimetry)

Bo Ewald, CEO of ColdQuanta, said, “ColdQuanta continues to win highly competitive programs thanks to our team’s world-class expertise and our unique ability to apply one common platform—the Quantum Core—to a wide range of quantum applications. We have also proven our ability to create systems that can operate in space, such as the technology that is a key part of NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory on the International Space Station.”

ColdQuanta’s approach in this proposal uses a technique called shaken lattice interferometry (SLI). SLI allows multiple, directional measurements of the earth’s gravitational field, not possible with other conventional or quantum approaches. Deploying these devices on a cluster of small satellites in low earth orbit will enable more rapid and accurate data to support near real-time natural disaster assessment or resource discovery.

The new device will be based on ColdQuanta’s Quantum Core™ technology that cools atoms to a temperature of nearly absolute zero and uses lasers to manipulate and control the atoms with extreme precision. The Quantum Core is used as the basis of a broad spectrum of applications including quantum computing, timekeeping, navigation, radiofrequency sensors, and quantum communications.

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