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QuantX Labs bags funding for its space-based clock

QuantX Labs bags funding for its space-based clock

Adelaide-based QuantX Labs has received funding to accelerate the development of its space-based clock, tipped to improve sovereign GPS systems. 

SmartSat CRC has awarded $1 million to QuantX Labs to support the development of its optical atomic clock satellite payload, which is an instrument designed to strengthen sovereign navigation and timing capability in space. 

The partnership aims to accelerate the space-qualification and commercialisation of a new type of atomic clock, which leverages high-precision lasers to interrogate a specially prepared vapour of Rubidium atoms.

This involves making atoms jump from their lowest energy state into an excited state by exposing them to particular colours of laser light. Compared to typical systems that use microwave radiation, the laser signals produce a better performing device, that is smaller and weighs less. 


The optical clock technology – created by Precision Measurement Group at The University of Adelaide and later developed into a product in collaboration with QuantX Labs and the SmartSat CRC Aurora Space Cluster start-up incubator – will improve the precision of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), including GPS.

The technology is the core feature of QuantX Labs’ alternate positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) product, which has defence, space and critical infrastructure applications.

“Access to sovereign satellite-based timing and positioning information is vital for the smooth operation and security of numerous Australian businesses as well as the defence forces,” QuantX Labs founder and managing director Andre Luiten said.

“Our next-generation optical clocks aim to be cheaper, smaller and more precise clocks than those used in current GNSS satellites.


“This funding will help us build momentum in our atomic clock development – which is vital for the space and terrestrial components of our alternate precision navigation and timing products.”

Luiten said the funding would help achieve the company’s goal of commencing trials of the compact optical clock in space within the next two years.

SmartSat CRC CEO Professor Andy Koronios said the compact space clock is “truly transformational”.

“This technology already matches the performance of very best space clocks and is on track to improve performance by an order of magnitude, while at the same time significantly reducing its size, weight and power consumption,” Koronios said.

“In just a few years, QuantX have transformed an idea to a product – from research to break-through technology.

“The optical space clock project is an excellent and powerful example of the important role that the SmartSat CRC is playing in catalysing collaboration between universities, industry and defence and helping to build military industrial capability.”

Dr Giuseppina Dall’Armi-Stoks, Defence’s program lead in quantum assured PNT, said the project complements key defence research and development priorities.

This includes Quantum Assured PNT research program, the Quantum Assured PNT STaR Shot, and the Quantum Research Network, funded via the Defence Next Generation Technologies Fund.

“These programs are aimed at ensuring that our warfighters have adequate and protected PNT capability in contested environments where critical systems such as GPS may be unreliable or unavailable,” she said.

“This partnership between the SmartSat CRC, QuantX Labs and The University to [of] Adelaide addresses a very real need in that space and demonstrates that collaborations such as this are critical to delivering the capability the ADF needs, both now and into the future.”

This project builds on QuantX Labs’ work developing high-precision timing and quantum sensors, with the company previously partnering with the Department of Defence and BAE Systems to deliver new innovative technologies, including the Cryoclock for the $1.2 billion AIR2025 JORN Phase 6 Defence upgrade program.

QuantX plans to double its workforce to 30 at its headquarters in Adelaide’s Lot Fourteen innovation precinct over the next 12 months.

Charbel Kadib

Charbel Kadib

News Editor – Defence and Cyber, Momentum Media

Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres.

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