Dr. Ying Lia Li (Lia) is the CEO and Founder of Zero Point Motion, an early stage startup creating chipscale optical inertial sensors. Lia was awarded the 2021 Institute of Physics Clifford Paterson Medal and Prize and is a 2022 Innovate UK Women in Innovation Awardee. She completed her combined undergraduate and master’s degree in physics at Imperial College before working at BAE Systems. Between 2012-2016 she pursued a Ph.D. at University College London developing optical sensors and exploring macroscopic quantum state preparation. Her work involves coupling optical resonances in microresonators to mechanical motion to sense displacement over 1000x smaller than a single atom. After completing her PhD, she was awarded an EPSRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, the prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Fellowship and an executive fellowship in entrepreneurship from Bristol University’s Quantum Technology Enterprise Centre. Lia founded Zero Point Motion in 2020, setting up the company in Bristol, UK, after raising seed investment.
Zero Point Motion is working with CORNERSTONE (University of Southampton and Glasgow University), to create low noise chipscale optical inertial sensor prototypes by combining photonic integrated circuit (PIC) structures with micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) engineering. Our technology is derived from research exploring the coupling between optical resonances and mechanical motion, already shown to produce 1000x lower noise floors compared with capacitive devices. We therefore exploit this cavity optomechanical interaction using a platform comprising ring resonators containing whispering gallery mode resonances, coupled to the motion of MEMS inertial test-masses placed within resonator evanescent field. We report on progress in realising an integrated device, with both MEMS and PIC structures packaged with light sources and detectors on-chip.