Quantum atomics, or the study of how matter behaves at the quantum level, has vast applications, from quantum computing to a so-called quantum internet.
Unfortunately, studying atoms is no easy task. Unlike observable matter like the cell phone in your hand or the apple on your desk, atoms can exist in multiple states at once. Their tiny particles only take on a measurable configuration when someone tries to measure them. So, even if we calculate the probability that an atom and its particles will behave a certain way at a given moment, that model falls apart when applied to other atoms in other environments.
Over time, scientists have developed methods to hold atoms in place — like a bug on a pin — and observe their behavior. One method is to put atoms into a vacuum that’s so cold, the atoms transition to a lower-energy state, which makes their quantum configurations easier to see.
Boulder-based quantum startup ColdQuanta makes hardware that does just that. The company announced Friday it raised an additional $10 million in seed funding, bringing its total seed round to $16.75 million.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
ColdQuanta developed a proprietary technology called Quantum Core, in which engineers cool atoms to near absolute zero and then use lasers to manipulate their makeup. With that capability, the company manufactures components for quantum timekeeping, navigation, computing and communication.
If you can’t picture any of those applications, consider this: Pairs or groups of atoms can share a quantum state in a process called entanglement. In other words, if two atoms are entangled, they will share the same quantum position no matter how far away they are, as if communicating with telepathy. This has big implications for any system that relies on real-time synchronicity or communication, like global positioning.
ColdQuanta counts all branches of the U.S. Department of Defense among its customers, as well as labs operated by the Department of Energy, NASA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and major universities, the company said in a statement. ColdQuanta’s total funding from government contracts and grants for research and development is around $30 million, it said.
The company currently has eight open roles listed on its website.
Interested in some more far-out applications of quantum atomics? Check out this breakdown of simulation theory.