Friday, December 22, 2023

Element Six single crystal diamond is to be tested in space

Quantum magnetometer powered by Element Six diamond to be tested in space to produce the World Magnetic Model

A diamond quantum magnetometer, powered by Element Six (E6) single crystal diamond is to be tested in space as part of the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) MagQuest Challenge. 

The device, developed by E6 collaborator SBQuantum and Spire Global, could enable better measurement of the earth’s electromagnetic field, also known as the World Magnetic Model (WMM). SBQuantum developed the diamond quantum magnetometer using Element Six’s high-quality quantum grade diamond, part of the DNV™ Series. The diamond-enabled device has now been selected for the final phases of the Challenge, which will include testing in space. 

Aircraft, ships, cars, and trucks, along with billions of smartphone users, rely on the WMM every day for navigational purposes. However, as natural shifts in the earth's magnetic field are rapidly occurring, the WMM must be monitored more closely, and updated more often to ensure accuracy, while keeping people and goods flowing safely. 

Existing satellite technologies suffer from drifts in measurement, induced by temperature constraints, which can distort readings. SBQuantum’s diamond magnetometer leverages E6’s diamond’s quantum properties and stability to provide vector measurements which reduce such drifts.

Through a long-standing collaboration from academic research to start-up launch, E6 has provided SBQuantum with a specially-engineered single crystal diamond with a high density of nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centres to improve the accuracy and sensitivity of the magnetometer. The diamond crystal provides the magnetometer with four sensing axes in a very small volume at the atomic scale. The amplitude and direction of its magnetic field measurements provide high accuracy with no blind spots.

The quality and reliability of Element Six’s diamond has enabled SBQuantum to demonstrate repeatability of performance, securing the team selection for the final phases of the MagQuest challenge. Diamond’s unique characteristics, such as its chemical inertness and resistance to radiation and heat, make it an ideal material for electronic devices that need to perform in extreme environments, such as space. 

Dr Matthew Markham, Head of Quantum Technologies at Element Six, said: “As a long-term collaborator with SBQuantum, we’re excited to be providing our single crystal diamond for the MagQuest challenge. We’re proud to help, nurture and support exciting new opportunities that seek to explore cutting edge quantum applications in order to solve real-world challenges, such as measuring the earth’s magnetic field. As a market leader in the development and manufacture of synthetic diamond materials, we’ve proven our ability to deliver this engineering solution and look forward to our diamond being tested in the most challenging of conditions.”

David Roy-Guay, CEO at SBQuantum, added: “E6’s diamond has been a key factor in the success of this project to date, enabling the accuracy of the solution while providing the technological repeatability and sophistication that have been essential to the continued development of our magnetometers.”

With over 70 years of diamond material expertise, E6 was the first commercial player to operate in quantum diamond space, part of a very small group of pioneers. E6’s quantum solutions are at the heart of many of the most significant quantum diamond milestones across academia and industry. To lower barriers to research and commercial development, the company has developed its DNV™ Series of quantum grade diamonds, enabling new and existing players to explore the field.

To find out more about E6’s quantum solutions, please visit:


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About Element Six
Element Six, part of the De Beers Group, is a world-leader in the design, development and production of synthetic diamond and tungsten carbide advanced material solutions. The company operates worldwide with primary manufacturing facilities in Germany, Ireland, South Africa, the UK and US. 

Element Six uses the extreme properties of synthetic diamond to open up new possibilities in areas such as quantum technnolgies, acoustics, power transmission, water treatment, thermal management and sensors. The company’s advanced material solutions are used in a wide range of applications across multiple industries including manufacturing in the Automotive and Consumer Electronics industries, cutting and drilling in the Oil & Gas industry, and in components for Mining, Road & Wear applications.

About SBQuantum
Founded and based in the quantum technology hub of Sherbrooke, Canada, SBQuantum is producing leading edge hardware in the field of quantum sensing, combined with advanced interpretation and compensation algorithms to bring magnetics to new heights. SBQuantum has obtained significant sums of non-dilutive financing to help propel it forward on its mission to bring to market the power of advanced sensors leveraging quantum effects. Its quantum magnetometer has already been tested at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center as part of NASA Tournament Lab. Beyond testing its equipment in space via the MagQuest Challenge, the company also intends to bring its miniaturized sensors to unmanned vehicles and a range of other deployment scenarios today’s sensors cannot perform.

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