14 August 2022

Nu Quantum

The Cambridge-based scientists advancing a quantum future.

Company Profile

Nu Quantum brings together a portfolio of intellectual property combining quantum optics, semiconductor photonics and information theory.

  • Date Formed: 2018
  • No. of Employees: 17
  • Website: nu-quantum.com
  • Address: Broers Building, 21 JJ Thomson Avenue, Cambridge CB3 0FA
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In summary…

Current computers are hamstrung by the way they process information using binary ‘bits’. Quantum computers will get around this problem by using qubits, making them 158 million times faster than the supercomputers of today.

This advancement will usher in a new age in humankind.

But, currently, qubits are only stable at very cold temperatures making quantum computing expensive and impractical.

With the unique ability to operate at room temperature, without compromising on quality, Nu Quantum’s single-photon technologies mean a quantum future evolves from possibility to reality. This is quantum democratization for all.


Democratizing quantum computing

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, computers weren’t as clever as they are today. Spanning wall to wall these early machines were oversized, impractical and could only perform a limited set of functions. As with everything, human endeavour brought about great advancements and today nearly everyone carries a small computer around with them in their pockets. These computers, even occasionally make phone calls.

The point of this preamble is, that although computers are getting smaller and smaller, and cleverer and cleverer, there will always be limitations to what they can do. Or more specifically, they’ll always be limitations as to how fast they can do certain tasks.

That’s because computers work in bits, or binary digits. Essentially, all the information they process is converted into a collection of ones and zeros. The word ‘wonder’, for example, would look something like this to a computer: 01110111 01101111 01101110 01100100 01100101 01110010. 

And although all these ones and zeros enable modern computers to store and process huge amounts of information, the more information they have to process, the more ones and zeros are needed. And that makes them as slow and cumbersome as their predecessors when it comes to solving hugely complex problems, such as simulating how molecules will react in different situations when trying to discover new drugs.

This is where quantum computing comes in.

By using qubits (quantum bits) rather than regular bits, calculations can happen much more quickly. That’s because qubits can be both one and zero at the same time. While it’s mind-boggling to try to understand quantum computing – here the famous Richard Feynman quote comes to mind: ‘if you think you understand quantum mechanics, then you don’t’ – all we mortals need to understand is that this means they’ll be fast.

And by fast, we’re talking 158 million times faster than today’s supercomputers.

This brings a new world of opportunities.

As well as expediting the discovery of life-changing drugs, there are other potential uses too:

Self-contained navigation systems, superhuman AI in driverless cars, electric flight, true AI, increased digital security, accurate weather forecasting – the list is mindblowing.

But quantum computers are still some way off. Mainly held up due to the fact qubits in their physical state are highly unstable and only usable in highly cooled environments.

Nu Quantum is providing the solution.

We believe Nu Quantum holds the key to unlocking a quantum future for all, along with the myriad of benefits that brings.
-JDJ Creative

What does Nu Quantum do?

Nu Quantum is a quantum photonics company based in Cambridge. A ground-breaking set of scientists, Nu Quantum is developing high-performance components to enable a new generation of photonics technologies.

Bringing together a portfolio of intellectual property combining quantum optics, semiconductor photonics and information theory, Nu Quantum has developed a portfolio of three products: a single-photon source, a single-photon detector and a quantum random number generator, which takes advantage of the quantum nature of single photons to generate truly random and fully cryptographic numbers.

Nu Quantum is one of a handful of companies in the world developing this photonics technology. 

With the unique ability to operate at room temperature, without compromising on quality, Nu Quantum’s single-photon technologies mean a quantum future evolves from possibility to reality.


Nu Quantum – the early days

A spin-out from Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory, Nu Quantum is the brainchild of CEO, Dr Carmen Palacios-Berraquero, and her co-founder Dr Matthew Applegate.

A PhD student at Cavendish, Palacios-Berraquero invented a method for making single-photon emission occur. Connecting this discovery with sensitive light detectors, which Applegate had simultaneously discovered while working at Cavendish, the pair realised they had a powerful combination and formed Nu Quantum.

Applegate has since left the company, but Palacios-Berraquero has continued, raising £2.1 million from Amadeus Capital Partners in its seed round in 2020, alongside several million pounds worth of grants from the UK government.

Having subsequently grown her team, Nu Quantum is now looking to undertake commercial trials of its products, before scaling up production in 2024.

What does this mean for the future?

Nu Quantum’s work is all undertaken with the aim of advancing a quantum future. But what will this quantum world look like?

We’ve already discussed the myriad advancements quantum computers will make but the really exciting part is the possibilities it opens up, which we just can’t apprehend yet. In the same way that 19th-century artists’ predictions of the year 2000 featured lots of levers and pulleys, a quantum future could be beyond our current comprehension.

When imagining a future world, quantum computing is often seen as the height of sci-fi. A futuristic panacea to rival jet cars and teleportation. But thanks to the work of companies such as Nu Quantum, quantum computing is becoming a reality, and at the same time, highlighting the beauty that can only be found in a lab.

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