The scientists succeeded in inventing a quantum sensor, with which they successfully demonstrated the first practical application of quantum sensing.

The device, known as a quantum gravity gradiometer, has been unveiled in a new study in the journal Nature. Developed by scientists at the University of Birmingham under contract from the UK Department of Defense, it marks the first time that quantum sensing has been used outside of the laboratory. Physicists have been able to effectively view underground formations without the use of intrusive methods. Traditional gravity sensors take a long time to detect any changes in gravity – what’s more, they can be interrupted by any nearby vibrations.

Quantum sensors can more efficiently assess underground structures and are inexpensive. They can measure even the smallest changes in gravitational fields for objects of various sizes and compositions located underground, including man-made structures built centuries ago.

In a press release, Kai Bongs of the University of Birmingham, head of the UK’s Center for Quantum Technology in Sensors and Timing, called it a “breakthrough”, adding that the invention “has the potential to end addiction to bad records and luck when we explore what is under our feet.