KU professor receives patent for new precision sensor design

Das and image of invention.

Dr. Kunal Das, professor of physics at Kutztown University, received a patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office for his invention of a new method of detection and precision detection of rotation and magnetic fields.

Das began the patent application process in 2018. The successful patent is the first documented at the university in the past 15 years.

This invention takes a completely new approach to performing precision sensing of both rotation and magnetic fields. Until now, state-of-the-art technology for the extremely sensitive measurement of rotation and magnetic fields has relied on the principle of wave interference, such as the SQUID (Superconducting Quantum Interference Device). Das’ patent develops and uses a very different phenomenon called localization.

For rotation sensing, light or material particles with mass can be the active medium, while for magnetometry, the active medium must carry an electrical charge. The light must be coherent, like that of a laser, while the material particles can be atoms, molecules, electrons, ions or other entities. Das’ invention uses a localization transition, whereby the medium becomes localized (more concentrated in space) or extended (spread), with the degree of localization sensitive to rotation or the presence of a magnetic field.

“As part of my grant-funded research, I had investigated quantum states in ring-like lattice configurations when I observed localization features with strong rotational sensitivity,” Das said. . “I was excited when I realized this could be used for a new sensor design that could be patented. It didn’t take me long to realize that with a few modifications I could also adapt the idea to detect magnetic fields.

On the patent process itself, Das commented, “It was a learning experience for me, working with officials from KU and the State System as well as Penn State who helped us. Writing a voluminous patent description with multiple claims that met both scientific and legal requirements was quite difficult. »

A key difference between Das’ patent and earlier research is that interferometry does not play a role as it does with all high-precision rotational sensors and sensitive magnetometers. An objective measurement based on a statistical quantity called Fisher Information shows that this invention can have significantly improved sensitivity over currently employed methods.

“This patent could lead to collaboration with companies for high-precision sensing with applications in gyroscopy and fundamental science measurements,” Das said. “This is a new idea, a new design and I really think it can take rotation sensing and field sensing in a very different direction than it has been in the last few decades. . Of course, it will take time to have an impact in the real world, but it is already satisfying to see the idea and the design validated by the United States Patent Office.

Das has received four grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) amounting to nearly $700,000 in research funding. He is a theoretical physicist working in the field of quantum physics. His research was motivated by his deep interest in understanding the puzzling and highly unintuitive foundations of quantum theory. It has been recognized in recent years that quantum mechanics will play an increasingly crucial role in 21st century technology, with broad applications that will transcend the limitations imposed by traditional physical methodology.

Learn more about KU’s Department of Physics at https://www.kutztown.edu/physics.

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