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PhD Studentship: Understanding the early universe using simulations of Lattice Quantum Field Theory.

Engineering & the Environment

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Friday 09 February 2018
Reference:  838317F2

Project Reference: NGCM-103.

In contemporary cosmology the Big Bang was followed by a phase of rapid expansion, a period called inflation. This mechanism has been very successful in explaining a number of cosmological observations like the flatness of the universe, its isotropy, structure formation which lead to the universe as observed today and the cosmic microwave background (CMB) most recently measured by the Planck satellite.

Despite its huge success we are still lacking a more fundamental understanding of the mechanism underlying and driving inflation. We expect that the dynamics originate from a fundamental but not yet known particle physics theory. Given the high energy scales relevant in inflation (10^14GeV) gravity plays a crucial role and new concepts beyond standard quantum field theory are likely needed.
There is an exciting new idea that the dynamics behind cosmological inflation (gravity coupled to scalar fields) can be computed in terms of its holographic dual, a three dimensional quantum field theory. While it remains hard to make predictions on the gravity side beyond perturbation theory, the three dimensional quantum field theory can be computed from first principles using numerical simulations of quantum field theory.

Our ultimate goal is to make predictions for the power spectrum and non-gaussianities of the CMB which are falsifiable by comparison to the satellite observations.

In this project we will test recently developed (lattice) field theoretical ideas for model-independently describing the CMB starting from three dimensional quantum field theories and comparing them to real world data as, for instance, recently measured by the Planck satellite. If successful post-dictions can be made this will be of transformative nature and it will open a whole new field of applications in Lattice Quantum Field Theory. The findings would substantially further our understanding of the very origin of the universe. Numerical simulations to this end will be carried out after implementing algorithmic and field theoretical developments in the new and highly efficient software environment ‘GRID’ on new computational architectures (Intel KNL, KNH) and existing high performance computers which are amongst the fastest available for research.

Candidates will have shown interest in mathematical or theoretical physics and in programming/computing and solving physics problems numerically.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Andreas Jüttner, Email: , Tel: +44 (0) 2380 597343

This project is run through participation in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Next Generation Computational Modelling ( For details of our 4 Year PhD programme, please see

For a details of available projects click here

The closing date for this job opportunity has now passed, and applications are no longer being accepted for this position

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