NEW - Postgraduate Student Recruitment 2019
We have a thriving community of over 20 PG students, working on a mixture of theory and experiment. If you are interested in joining our group, then please consult our research page for details of what we do. The Durham physics department maintains a page that gives details of funding sources, and entry requirements. The details of our admissions process for 2019 are given below:
We welcome applications for research masters (1 year) and doctoral studies from students with their own funding or full scholarships. There is no application deadline. Please look at our research page to find a project that suits you, and feel free to contact the relevant supervisors. We recommend that you submit an application as early as possible, so that we can advise on any admissions issues that may arise during the process.
Durham Doctoral Scholarships
Each year Durham University awards a small number of highly prestigious scholarships for outstanding PhD students of any nationality. The application process is highly competitive; you will need to be at or near the top of your class, with evidence of achievement at the highest level such as publications or awards. We welcome applications from top-class students to work on any of our projects. We recommend that you submit an application as early as possible.
Fully funded studentships
Each year we have a number of fully funded studentships allocated to individual projects. Details of the available projects and the application timetable are provided below. Please note that unless otherwise stated, these studentships are only available to candidates with Home/EU fee status.
Currently available studentships
Quantum Optics with Rydberg Excitons
We often think of solid state and atomic physics experiments as fundamentally different. However, in some semiconductors electrons and holes can bind together to form quasi-particles called excitons, giving rise to a Rydberg series of spectral lines just like in hydrogen. In this project we aim to use high-lying Rydberg states of these excitons to control light at the single photon level. The project is part of a collaboration with Cardiff University and would be supported by an EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership. For more information contact Dr. Matthew Jones.
Continuous-time quantum computing with cooling
Instead of the standard gate model, quantum computing can be done using a continuous time evolution from the initial state to the final state. We still encode the problem into qubits, but then, instead of applying quantum gates, we apply a Hamiltonian-based, continuous time evolution to produce the final state of the qubits, which contains the answer to the computation. The time evolution can include coupling to a thermal bath, or other non-unitary dynamics. This model of computation includes as special cases: adiabatic quantum computation (AQC), computation by (continuous-time) quantum walk (QW), quantum annealing (QA), and many types of special purpose quantum simulation. A hybrid strategy that takes advantage of features from all of these, tailored to suit the problem, provides a quantum advantage for practical computation. Furthermore, hardware being designed and built for one of these types of computation should be suitable for a wider range of problems than originally envisaged. Realistic hardware includes environmental effects, and many types require active cooling. There are a wide range of theoretical and computational directions to tackle under this framework, allowing you to choose according to your interests. For more information contact Dr. Viv Kendon.
Dynamics and interferometry of bright solitary matter waves
Bright solitary matter waves, or solitons, are self-localised, long-lived atomic wavepackets that propagate without dispersion and retain their shape following interactions with barriers and other solitons. We have recently demonstrated a proof-of-principle atom interferometer achieved by coherently splitting a soliton on a narrow repulsive Gaussian barrier, which acts as a beam splitter, and then recombining the daughter solitons on the same barrier. There is considerable interest developing atom interferometers over traditional light-based interferometers due to the much higher sensitivity of atoms to acceleration, with applications in measuring local gravity and rotational sensing. By propagation solitons around a ring-shaped potential, a Sagnac interferometer for measuring rotation can be realised. The goal of this PhD project is to develop and implement such a soliton interferometer, as well as to study soliton dynamics.
This studentship would be supported by an EPSRC DTP. For more details contact Prof. Simon Cornish.
THz imaging using atomic vapour
In this project we will develop Terahertz (THz) imaging techniques based upon efficient THz-to-optical conversion in atomic vapour. THz technologies, generally defined as operating in the 0.3—10 THz range, bridge the gap between electronic and photonic devices. Because THz radiation is non-ionising and passes readily through everyday materials such as plastics, paper and cloth, it is suitable for use in security and biomedical applications as well finding uses in telecommunications and industrial non-destructive testing. For all these applications, it is highly desirable to have sensitive detectors which are able to operate at high speeds; features that have so far proved elusive in conventional technologies. Atomic THz detectors developed in Durham have already been demonstrated to be faster and more sensitive than other room temperature THz sensors. This studentship would be supported by an EPSRC DTP. For more information please contact Dr. Kevin Weatherill.
Rydberg quantum optics in thermal vapour
In this project we will work towards a deterministic single photon source based upon Rydberg atoms in thermal vapour. Rydberg atoms have extreme properties which lead to very large optical non-linearities, even at the single photon level. Most demonstrations of Rydberg quantum-optical effects have been demonstrated in cold atoms where motion is frozen out. In this project we will eliminate motional effects in a different way by writing “Doppler-free” spin waves into a room temperature vapour. This studentship would be supported by an EPSRC DTP. For more information please contact Dr. Kevin Weatherill.
Fundamental physics with atomic vapours
There is a proud tradition of using Atomic Physics to test fundamental physics. The goal of this project is to analyse the spectrum of Rb vapour in large magnetic fields (we have our own 1.5 Tesla permanent magnet, access to an electromagnet that can achieve up to 8 Tesla, and trips to international facilities to use fields up to 35 Tesla). Precision spectroscopy of atoms in such large fields has yet to be done. We have identified a way of turning this into a measurement of Boltzmann’s constant. This constant is key for the definition of temperature in the SI system, and the aim would be to make the first laser-based measurement of this fundamental constant. This studentship would be supported by an EPSRC DTP. For more information please contact Prof. Ifan Hughes.
Rydberg quantum optics
In our experiment we make photons interact (without even being in the same place, see image) by mapping them into highly-excited
atomic states (Rydberg states) that do interact over large distances. This quantum light-matter interface is both a test bed for studying non-locality and entanglement and a key component in future technologies such as the quantum computing and the quantum internet. This studentship would be supported by an EPSRC studentship. For more information please contact Prof. Charles Adams.
Quantum Simulation with Ultracold Molecules
Durham University is the leader of a £6 million research project aimed at building quantum simulators using ultracold polar molecules. Three fully funded 3.5 year project studentships are available. For more details contact Prof. Simon Cornish.
An ultracold gas of CsYb molecules in an optical lattice: A toolbox for quantum simulation: The aim of this project is to form ultracold CsYb molecules in an optical lattice, with each molecule interacting with its neighbours via controlled electric dipole and spin-spin interactions. This would constitute a rich and versatile system capable of simulating lattice-spin models that are ubiquitous in condensed matter physics. The project will utilise the current apparatus which in recent experimental and theoretical work has measured the interspecies scattering lengths and predicted the positions of novel interspecies Feshbach resonances. Once these Feshbach resonances have been observed, you will perform magnetoassociation using an interspecies Feshbach resonance to form ultracold CsYb molecules. You will design and construct an optical lattice to confine the Cs and Yb which will enable efficient formation of ultracold CsYb molecules. To load the lattice you will use a quantum degenerate mixture of Cs and Yb which has recently been produced in the lab. The implementation of a lattice will also allow you to explore many intriguing quantum phase transitions such as the superfluid to Mott-insulator transition and the interesting prospect of forming heteronuclear quantum droplets. We will then investigate the use of stimulated Raman adiabatic passage to transfer the molecules to the rovibrational ground state, developing the necessary hardware and theoretical modelling as the experiments progress. The creation of CsYb molecules in an optical lattice will represent a major milestone in the field of ultracold gases and will open the door to many novel studies in the realm of quantum simulation. Fully funded 3.5 year project studentship available as part of the program grant "QSUM: Quantum Science with Ultracold Molecules" EPSRC EP/P01058X/1. Please contact Prof. Simon Cornish for details.
A Quantum Gas Microscope for Ultracold Polar Molecules: Quantum gas microscopy is a powerful new tool used to image single atoms on the individual sites of an optical lattice. Such experiments enable the quantum simulation of lattice-spin models which are ubiquitous in condensed matter physics. However, to date these experiments have been largely limited to only the short-range interactions available to ground state atoms. One solution to this is to use polar molecules in place of atoms in the lattice, which may then interact over long-range via the dipole-dipole interaction.
The most effective method of producing ultracold molecules so far is to bind together ultracold atoms produced using standard laser cooling techniques. This has been successfully demonstrated in our group for the bialkali RbCs molecule.
In this project, you will help develop a next-generation apparatus to perform quantum gas microscopy of ultracold molecules confined to an optical lattice. Key milestones of the PhD project will include the production and optical trapping of quantum-degenerate gases of alkali atoms, association of atoms to form ground-state molecules, and high-resolution imaging of atoms and molecules in an optical lattice. This project forms part of an ongoing collaboration between Durham University, Imperial College London, and the University of Oxford focussed on “Quantum Science with Ultracold Molecules”. Fully funded 3.5 year project studentship available as part of the program grant "QSUM: Quantum Science with Ultracold Molecules" EPSRC EP/P01058X/1. Please contact Prof. Simon Cornish for details.
Quantum Science with Ultracold RbCs Molecules: Ultracold polar molecules offer an exciting new platform for quantum science experiments exploring many-body physics. This PhD project will make use of a state-of-the-art apparatus capable of producing a gas of 4000 ground-state RbCs molecules at microkelvin temperatures. The apparatus works by binding together atoms from an ultracold mixture of Rubidium (Rb) and Caesium (Cs) to form the molecules. This is achieved fully coherently by first sweeping a magnetic field through a Feshbach resonance to form weakly-bound molecules, and then transferring these to deeply bound states by stimulated Raman adiabatic passage.
The project will focus on controlling the internal and external degrees of freedom of the molecules. The internal state can be fully controlled with microwaves whilst optical lattices, traps made from a standing wave of light, can be used to confine the molecules spatially. Later in the project, you will transfer the developed expertise in internal state control to a new apparatus where single molecules will be confined to individual tweezer traps to form a reconfigurable array. This will enable the study of prototype quantum gate operations and lattice-spin models across small arrays of molecules. This project forms part of an ongoing collaboration between Durham University, Imperial College London, and the University of Oxford focussed on “Quantum Science with Ultracold Molecules”. Fully funded 3.5 year project studentship available as part of the program grant "QSUM: Quantum Science with Ultracold Molecules" EPSRC EP/P01058X/1. Please contact Prof. Simon Cornish for details.
Currently available professional positions
Postdoctoral Research Associate in Atomic & Molecular Physics:
Applications are invited for two Postdoctoral Research Associate posts in atomic, molecular and optical physics with a particular emphasis on quantum-enhanced precision measurements using ultra-cold strontium atoms. The project is supported by a four-year grant “Optical Clock Arrays for Quantum Metrology” awarded by the UK Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) and led by Dr. Matthew Jones. The project goal is to create highly entangled or squeezed states in an optical atomic clock based in array of ultracold strontium atoms. The work is based on a high-impact theoretical proposal from our group and our recent success in combining Rydberg states with optical clock transitions. Ultimately, the aim is to explore whether such states can be used to further enhance the performance of state-of-the art atomic clocks, and to provide a new platform for quantum science based on individually trapped Sr atoms. The successful applicants will work directly with Dr. Matthew Jones and other members of the research team. The project involves a collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory (UK) and the Institut d’Optique (France), and successful applicants will be expected to work closely with these project partners, including travel and secondments. The successful applicants will be expected to display the initiative and creativity as well as appropriate skills and knowledge required to take a leading role in developing and extending the existing Sr apparatus.
The successful applicants will be expected to have a broad range of knowledge and skills appropriate to the project goals, such as familiarity with the production of ultracold atomic gases; practical knowledge of optical trapping techniques; familiarity with optical frequency standards based on trapped atoms or ions. The successful applicants will be expected to work effectively both independently and as part of a research team. It is expected that they will also enhance the international contacts of the group through the presentation of work at international conferences and aid in the supervision of graduate students within the group. These posts are full time and fixed term for 2 years. For more information please visit our formal advert.
Postdoctoral Research Associate in Atomic & Molecular Physics
Applications are invited for two Postdoctoral Research Associate posts in atomic, molecular and optical physics with a particular emphasis on terahertz sensing and imaging using Rydberg atoms. The project is supported by a three-year grant awarded by the EU Quantum flagship programme and a three-year EPSRC grant, both led by Dr. Kevin Weatherill. The broad project goal is to develop terahertz sensors and imaging devices based upon atomic vapours in room temperature cells. The work builds upon pioneering work at Durham described in recent high-impact papers from our group. The work also forms part of a Europe-wide consortium on developing atom-based sensors using vapour cell technologies.
The successful applicants will join a supportive research environment and work directly with Dr. Kevin Weatherill and Prof. Charles Adams and other members of the research team. As the project involves collaboration with collaborative partners, the successful applicant will be expected to work closely with and visit these project partners. The successful applicants will be expected to display the initiative and creativity as well as appropriate skills and knowledge required to take a leading role in developing and extending the existing experimental apparatus. For more information please visit our formal advert.
Postdoctoral Research Associate
The position is to work as a theoretical postdoctoral researcher in an internationally recognized theoretical and experimental atomic and optical physics research effort, consisting of the theoretical research of Simon Gardiner, and experiments led by Charles Adams, Ifan Hughes, Matthew Jones, and Kevin Weatherill, with frequent experiment-theory collaborations. This will be working in the area of theoretical and computational study of atom-light interactions (broadly interpreted, to also extend into near infrared, ultraviolet, and terahertz regimes). Recent Durham theoretical research in this area has focused on the study of lattices of dipole-interacting ensembles of driven atoms, and an understanding of open systems and associated theoretical approaches is essential. For more information please visit our formal advert.