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PhD Studentship - Inertial sensing using quantum matterwave interferometry

Quantum, Light & Matter Group

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Monday 31 August 2020
Reference:  1268820WF

Supervisory Team:    Tim Freegarde

Project description

This experimental research project will address the use of atom matterwave interferometry for inertial sensing and its development as a quantum technology for navigation.

Atom interferometers schematically resemble their optical counterparts, but atomic de Broglie matterwaves replace the lightwave of the optical interferometer, and temporally-shaped laser beams play the roles of mirrors and beamsplitters. Using atoms at microkelvin temperatures, matterwave interferometers can surpass the sensitivity of even the best optical devices, and are able to sense a wider range of properties since, unlike photons, atoms have mass and can carry charge and magnetic moments.

With established expertise in experimental quantum and atomic physics and experimental techniques (including lasers, optics, rf, vacuum and imaging) needed to investigate them, we have previously explored the use of atom interferometry for velocimetry and microkelvin cooling (see eg Phys Rev Lett 115, 073004, Phys Rev A 99, 023631) and – in collaboration with Southampton’s Spin Dynamics group – used optimal control techniques to improve fidelity (J Phys B 53, 085006). We are now combining these areas to build atom interferometric inertial sensors for applications beyond the laboratory. (For articles, please visit .)

This project is to construct a transportable atom interferometric rotation sensor for prototype navigation applications, using the latest, agile, solid-state laser systems and highly efficient mirror and beamsplitter pulses designed using optimal control theory. You will build and characterize the atom interferometer, demonstrate and develop it as an inertial sensor, implement and validate new control sequences, field test the device on inertial motion platforms, and determine the eventual performance of a navigation system based upon such devices. The project will introduce you to a wide range of optical, laser and rf devices and techniques and control and image processing systems, while exploring in depth the principles and applications of quantum physics and inertial measurement. It’s a great combination of fundamental science and developing an exciting new technology.

For informal enquiries, contact Dr Tim Freegarde, or visit .

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 August 2020 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: full tuition fees for EU/UK students plus for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £15,285 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. 

How To Apply

Applications should be made online, please select the academic session 2020-21 “PhD Physics (Full time)” as the programme. Please enter Tim Freegarde under the proposed supervisor.

Applications should include

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact: 

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