Not surprisingly, militaries across the world are also backing research in to quantum sensing.
Gravimeters in particular offer the potential for detecting your opponent’s submarines, for instance. Gravity may be a weak force, but you can’t shield against it.
So while stealth technology may hide your radar signature, it won’t hide you from a quantum gravity sensor.
Last October, scientists at the US Army’s RDECOM Research Laboratory in Maryland took a significant step forward in quantum sensing.
They used lasers to boost Rydberg atoms (which are much larger than normal atoms) to unusually high energy levels.
“This greatly increases the atom’s sensitivity to electric fields. We’ve made a giant compass needle that is much more sensitive than conventional ones,” says Dr Paul Kunz, part of the research team.
Armies will want to detect what electrical devices may be transmitting or receiving data – in other words, “where the good guys and the bad guys are,” adds Dr Kevin Cox.
Unlike conventional receivers designed to detect signals over a particular frequency in the electromagnetic spectrum, Rydberg atoms are sensitive to a wide range of frequencies.
And as they don’t absorb energy from the field that they measure, you can use them to detect signals without your opponents realising.
In short, “quantum technology has the potential to transform the world in ways we can barely imagine,” concludes Birmingham University’s Prof Bongs.