UCLA receives $1 million NSF grant to develop quantum sensors

By Holly Ober

This article was originally published by UCLA Newsroom

A team of UCLA researchers has received a four-year, $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Quantum Sensing Challenges for Transformational Advances in Quantum Systems program. The funds will support research on new sensor technologies that can precisely measure the previously unmeasurable.

Led by Prineha Narang, a UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry who holds the Howard Reiss Career Development Chair, the investigators will use quantum sensors to measure and understand atmospheric and aerosol chemistries that standard atmospheric sensors cannot detect. The particles contribute to poor air quality and climate change, and improved monitoring could help scientists identify better ways to clean up the air.

The other investigators include Suzanne Paulson, department chair of atmospheric and oceanic sciences; Andrea Bertozzi, a UCLA distinguished professor of mathematics and of mechanical and aerospace engineering; colleagues at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering; and Sunil Bhave of Purdue University. Together, they will aim to develop a network of sensors that take advantage of the unique behaviors of subatomic matter to observe atmospheric chemistry in real time by detecting minute quantities of particles or even single molecules of atmospheric constituents such as ammonia, nitrogen oxides and organic hydroperoxides.

Grant support for the UCLA project is aligned with the NSF’s broader strategy, backed by a $29 million investment nationwide, to realize the scientific and technological advances called for in the National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018 and outlined in the 2022 National Science and Technology Council report “Bringing Quantum Sensors to Fruition.”