According to research published late last year, Chinese scientists have achieved a breakthrough in submarine detection with an affordable and highly sensitive version of Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices (SQUIDs).

SQUIDs are highly sensitive detectors used to measure extremely weak magnetic fields. These devices operate based on the principle of superconductivity, where certain materials exhibit zero electrical resistance at low temperatures.

Due to their remarkable sensitivity, SQUIDs find applications in various fields, including physics research, medical diagnostics, and submarine detection technology.

Led by Zhang Yingzi, the research introduces a simplified design using only one superconducting magnetic gradiometer instead of six, enhancing precision. 

Super-expensive SQUIDS are only affordable for a few powerful militaries and are mainly used in specialized anti-submarine aircraft. This development marks a new era in submarine detection, potentially making the technology more accessible and deployable on drone fleets. 

A better way to make super-sensitive submarine detectors

The old detectors had a problem with too much interference, making them less sensitive. The scientists used a new method called structural optimization with a two-dimensional Fourier transform to improve the detectors. This method transformed complicated data into simpler forms, making the detectors more effective. 

The new detectors only need one part instead of six, which reduces interference and makes them ten times more sensitive. Tests showed the improved detectors work well, proving the new method is effective.

Yingzi, along with the team, say that the design will significantly reduce costs and improve performance, which makes it possible to install the detectors on uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) on a large scale, reported the South China Morning Post.

Based on their study findings, experiments conducted in real-world conditions demonstrate that the device maintains stability even in challenging and intricate settings. Furthermore, it exhibits the capability to identify exceptionally faint magnetic anomaly signals.

In the race for supremacy in submarine detection

Developed by U.S. scientists in 1964, the technology initially found its home in military aircraft but stumbled when faced with the challenge of tracking submarines in motion. Innovation from German researchers was paramount in steering this concept towards practical utility.

China now wants to be the frontrunner and is channeling substantial investments into the technology. Several years past, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences pioneered breakthroughs, surpassing the sensitivity of their German counterparts.

The breakthrough may shift global military dynamics, giving China an advantage, particularly against advanced US submarines, and impacting areas like the South China Sea. 

The undisclosed military applications suggest potential adoption by the Chinese military, further strengthening their capabilities.

The study was published in the Chinese-language journal Cryogenics & Superconductivity.

2024-01-03T14:38:51Z dg43tfdfdgfd