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$1.5M Department of Energy Award to Support Research to Enable Fusion Energy

By Kara Stamets

The Quantum Technology Center (QTC) at the University of Maryland has received $1.5 million to study quantum diamond magnetometers in collaboration with Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), a Massachusetts Institute of Technology spin-off commercializing fusion energy.

Led by Professor Ronald Walsworth, QTC founding director, and QTC Scientist Matthew Turner, the project uses advancements in quantum sensing with nitrogen vacancy centers—atomic-level defects in the structure of diamonds—to enable diagnostic capabilities in extreme environments necessary for practical commercial fusion device operation and other applications using high-magnetic fields.

The goal of the project is to develop robust magnetometers, based on quantum defects in diamond, that can operate in the intense environment inside a tokamak fusion device—the leading candidate for practical fusion reactors that could create practically limitless clean power, if they can be made to work.

However, no existing magnetometers can survive the extreme radiation, magnetic field and temperature environment in a tokamak fusion device. Diamond withstands extreme radiation in other applications, and theoretical estimates indicate that the diamond approach would be sensitive enough for the intended fusion applications.

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