Revealing the Unseen – Potential of Quantum Technology Gravity Sensors – A Civil Engineer’s Perspective
Professor Nicole Metje, University of Birmingham
It is vital for civil engineers to know not only what hazards lie in the ground, such as pipes, cables and buried mineshafts, but also the condition of the ground, i.e. whether there are wet patches, soft ground or hidden sinkholes, prior to construction. This aids engineers when designing new buildings or simply breaking ground, e.g. for streetworks thereby reducing their impact, reducing the risks due to excavation and associated Health & Safety impacts and saving project costs.
Several different geophysical sensing technologies exist to see through the ground, but many rely on transmitting an electromagnetic wave through the ground limiting the signal penetration through the ground to 1-2m. A new generation of gravity instruments based on quantum technology promises to overcome these limitations. A close collaboration between academics in civil engineering and physics at the University of Birmingham together with end-users is exploring the potential of QT gravity gradiometers to reveal the undetectable and trialling these novel sensors in engineering driven applications. This presentation will demonstrate the challenges of using quantum instruments in civil engineering environments, highlight lessons learned to date and indicate the potential of these novel sensors for civil engineers.
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