Quantum Control group

University of Southampton: School of Physics and Astronomy

Join the Quantum Control group!


Doctoral and post-doctoral opportunities with the Quantum Control group develop continuously, and we welcome enquiries from prospective students and researchers at all times. Some details of currently advertised positions can be found below. To find out more, or to enquire about other possibilities including vacation jobs, contact Tim directly.


PhD studentships from October 2019

  • Atom matterwave interferometry and inertial measurement

    We have several experimental and theoretical projects addressing atom interferometry, from fundamental aspects to its use for inertial sensing and applications as a quantum technology for navigation.

    Atom interferometers schematically resemble their optical counterparts, but the atom’s de Broglie matterwave replaces the lightwave of the optical interferometer, and 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.

    Having previously explored the use of atom interferometry for velocimetry and ultracold cooling, we are now building an atom interferometric rotation sensor as a prototype for navigational applications. At the same time, for future generations of atom interferometric sensors, we are designing new mirror and beamsplitter pulses, using the theory of optimal control; and we are able to test and validate our new designs with further experimental studies. We wish also to calculate the likely navigational performance of atom interferometric sensors.

    PhD projects are available in all these areas and combinations thereof:
    • interferometric rotation sensor prototype – construction and characterization
    • theory and design of optimal control mirrors and beamsplitters for atom interferometry
    • experimental characterization and validation of components for next-generation atom interferometry
    • navigational performance of atom interferometric inertial sensors.

    These projects are offered in connection with the Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology, Southampton's Spin Dynamics group and the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Next Generation Computational Modelling, Thales R&T UK and DSTL, and may involve extended visits to our French collaborators at the Laboratoire Photonique, Numérique et Nanosciences. A bursary will provide an annual stipend (currently around £14,800), together with tuition fees for UK/EU students. Applicants should have, or be about to obtain, a first or upper-second class degree in Physics or a closely-related discipline.

    For informal enquiries, contact Dr Tim Freegarde, telephone +44 (0)23 8059 2347, tim.freegarde@soton.ac.uk.
  • Momentum-State Quantum Computer

    The qubits of a quantum computer can be coded within the ladder of states of a quantum manifold or continuous variable, such as the momentum of a single cold atom or the vibrational state of a trapped ion. While the scaling of such systems limits their potential for quantum information processing (QIP), they are intriguing because they allow an algorithmic approach to the coherent control of these quantum systems: by addressing not so much the quantum data as their physical manifestations, we may design new, efficient cooling processes for atoms and ions. This project will for the first time implement a momentum-state quantum computer experimentally on our newly upgraded atom interferometry apparatus in Southampton, and investigate a parallel scheme for the manipulation of ions in a Penning trap in Imperial College.

    First Year Project: Ion traps commonly work best when the trap is harmonic – i.e., the potential varies quadratically with displacement and the vibrational energies are uniformly spaced. If however there is a small anharmonicity, the vibrational states may be distinguished, and quantum gates may be implemented using a single ion. This first year project, based in Imperial College, will explore, both theoretically and experimentally, the Penning trap harmonicity and its dependence upon the applied electrode potentials, and investigate shaping of the trap potential by adding a Laguerre-Gaussian laser beam dipole trap. We shall attempt to resolve the vibrational states through c.w. laser spectroscopy, and to transfer between them using stimulated Raman transitions.

    PhD Project: In the PhD phase, the suitability of Penning traps fort this type of QIP will be explored at Imperial; the project will then move to Southampton. The addressability and Raman manipulation of cold atoms have already been proved through demonstration of their interferometric cooling, but previous laser intensities were insufficient to explore quantum information applications. Using our newly upgraded apparatus, we now wish to give it a try. We shall design and program algorithmic pulse sequences into our experimental apparatus, and record the output state distributions using Raman spectroscopy. We shall increase the number of qubits from 2 to 3 or more, and implement simple algorithms upon our sample. To maintain fidelity throughout the longer experimental sequences, we shall use composite pulses that, in collaboration with NMR experts, we are currently tailoring to atomic applications.

    Throughout these projects, the student will learn to use a wide range of laboratory equipment, including lasers, optics, photonics, electronics, cryogenics and vacuum and control systems.

    This CQD project will in Southampton be supported by the Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology, and by collaboration with projects funded by Dstl and Southampton’s CDT in Next Generation Computational Modelling. A 4 year bursary will provide an annual stipend (currently around £14,800), together with tuition fees for UK/EU students. Applicants should have, or be about to obtain, a first or upper-second class degree in Physics or a closely-related discipline.

    Applicants should apply via the Imperial College Centre for Doctoral Training on Controlled Quantum Dynamics. For informal enquiries, contact Dr Tim Freegarde, telephone +44 (0)23 8059 2347, tim.freegarde@soton.ac.uk.

Masters projects with the Quantum Control group

  • Projects for EuroMasters/Diplom students

    We're delighted to welcome EuroMasters and Diplom students to come to Southampton to pursue their Masters research in our laboratories - contact us to discuss things further.

    Southampton can now also offer a full 'Bologna-compliant' EuroMasters programme, which precedes the research year with a year of advanced taught courses. See http://www.phys.soton.ac.uk/admissions/euromasters/ for further details.

  • Projects for Southampton students - Honours MPhys with a Year of Experimental Research

    Southampton's top physics students may now elect to follow our accelerated MPhys programme, which compresses core material into the first three years so that the fourth year can be dedicated to a major research project. The full-time project spans both semesters of the final year, and involves close work with other researchers from the group on one of our programmes in quantum optics, laser physics and nano-engineering. We're usually able to tailor the exact project to your individual strengths and preferences, so contact us to discuss things further.

    Note that for Southampton undergraduates with a yen for travel, we may be able to arrange for you to spend some or all of your project working in the labs of our international collaborators in Germany, Austria, Denmark or Italy.

Undergraduate projects with the Quantum Control group

  • Vacation projects

    We are often able to offer funded 8-week placements during the summer vacation to allow enthusiastic physics undergraduates from Southampton and elsewhere to join our research groups and find out what experimental research is really like! Summer projects are not usually arranged until around Easter, but feel free to drop us a line before then if you're keen to be involved, or would like more information. Please note that, although funding can be obtained from various sources, it is usually restricted to candidates within the European Union.

  • Projects for Southampton University 3rd and 4th year physicists

    We offer MPhys and BSc research projects in most years. Some projects are related to our main research work, while others are more self-contained. Further details