Partnering opportunity

Horizon 2020: FET-Open Challenging Current Thinking – consortium seeks partner in the area of laser physics and molecular quantum control


A Bulgarian research centre will act as Coordinator for a project under FET Open programme in the field of propulsion employing the quantum technology. The consortium seeks at least one more partner outside Bulgaria and UK. The type of partner could be an SME, centres or universities with experience in R&D in laser physics and molecular quantum control. The role of the partner will be to lead the experimental validation stage and provide expert advice during the theoretical and demo stages.

Partner sought

The type of partner could be SME, centres or Universities with experience in R&D in laser physics and molecular quantum control. The role of the partner will be to lead the experimental validation stage and provide expert advice during the theoretical and demo stages.


Cutting edge quantum technologies are currently being used in the areas of communications, computing, and sensing. This project aims to extend the application of quantum technology in the field of propulsion. A quantum drive would not interact with the environment chemically or radioactively. It should work in any media, such as water, air, and vacuum. The proposed Q-drive relies on the unique nitrogen inversion of ammonia (NH3) - a feature that was previously utilised in the first atomic clocks (1949) and the masers (1953). The nitrogen inversion is a quantum tunnelling process where the NH3 gas molecules spontaneously change their shape billions of times per second at the speed of light. A relatively small container filled with ammonia can contain ~1020 of these molecular pistons. Besides, the NH3 molecules are polar and can be organised with externally applied electric fields and lasers. The work cycles of every molecular piston would be as follows: orient-invert-orient-invert. The intent is to orient the quantum tunnelling of the relatively heavy nitrogen in a fixed predominant direction. The oriented pistons would affect the molecular collisions creating pressure bias and a resultant propulsive force at the macroscale. Up to 10 TW of inversion power can be extracted from 1m3 of ammonia gas at atmospheric pressure. Recent proof-of-concept experiments (2018) with ammonia in an electric field demonstrate the translational and rotational motion of a 1-kg container. This project aims to optimise the efficiency of the Q-drive by evaluating theoretically alternative resonant and non-resonant orientation approaches for the NH3 molecules, which do not prohibit the quantum tunnelling process. The optimal solutions will be tested in laboratory conditions. Depending on the complexity of the final solution, a pilot demo test may be conducted on a scaled-down ship model typically used for propeller design. The consortium seeks a partner to lead the experimental validation stage and provide expert advice during the theoretical and demo stages. The proposal is being prepared for the next FET OPEN call (Horizon 2020: FET-Open Challenging Current Thinking; 13 May 2020 ) by an international consortium represented by an academic institution,a research centre and small industries that combine basic and applied research. EOI deadline: 31 March 2020 Call deadline: 13 May 2020 Project duration:

Advantages and innovations

The proposed Q-drive method is environmentally safe. It does not rely on chemical or radioactive processes. The Q-drive method has has no analogue with a wide range of applications such as the propulsion of ground, marine, air and space vehicles.

Development stage

Under development/lab tested

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Patent(s) applied for but not yet granted

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