The detection of magnetic fields and the magnetisation of materials in local geological structures that can be determined from them enables for insights into the natural or anthropogenic inhomogeneities of the sub-surface. These are both natural sources, e.g. various water, ore or raw material deposits, and anthropogenic, near-surface inputs into the environment, such as metal inputs, contaminations of various kinds as well as unexploded ordnance and landmines. In this application, quantum sensor technologies based on ultrasensitive optically pumped magnetometers (OPM) represent an important research field for the future.

Within the framework of the joint project QGrad, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Leibniz IPHT and TOPTICA Photonics AG, Optikron GmbH, supracon AG and ASDRO GmbH as partners from industry are working together on research into new quantum magnetometers for use on drone and helicopter-based platforms. In the Leibniz IPHT sub-project, innovative concepts for new optically pumped gradiometers (OPG) will be investigated as the basis for the demonstrators to be realised in QGrad for use in geophysical exploration and in geotechnical applications (e.g. explosive ordnance search). The required readout components will also be developed. In the project, demonstrators with the approach favoured for the OPG will be realised, optimised and their performance evaluated for airborne use. An important part of the evaluation is the research and implementation of innovative data processing, inversion and imaging methods for magnetic measurement data.

The QGrad project is funded by the BMBF under the grant number 13N16421 as part of the funding call: “Quantum technologies – Lighthouse projects in quantum-based measurement technology” via the project management organisation VDI.