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 2017

  • Innovations for the Next Generation of Atom Interferometric Sensors

    Quantum technologies based on atom interferometry offer ultraprecise clocks, electric and magnetic field probes, and inertial sensors that can measure acceleration, rotation and gravity with exquisite precision. The wavefunctions of ultracold atoms, ions and quantum condensates are split and steered by optical and radiofrequency fields to form interference fringes that reveal their passage through time and space. However, the fragility of these matter waves causes the fringe clarity, stability and overall interferometer sensitivity to be limited by the beamsplitter and mirror fidelities, the sterility of the inter-pulse environment, and the delicacy of the read-out mechanism. These determine the superposition precision within the atomic ensemble, the fraction of the ensemble that can be used, the length and width of the phase-space that the interferometer encloses, and the classical information that can be extracted from the quantum system.

    This project will explore a variety of techniques to enhance the performance of future quantum devices by improving the beamsplitter and mirror performance, the inter-pulse sensitivity and resilience, and the readout and interpretation. Composite pulses, adiabatic passage and optimal control will improve manipulation fidelity, allowing large interferometer areas and better use of the cold atom ensemble. Dynamic decoupling and quantum error correction will improve resilience to external perturbations, and weak non-destructive measurements will allow compensation of phase drifts. Coherent readout will exploit the quantum coherence of the interferometer sample to improve readout signal-to-noise. Raman quantum memory methods allow a holographic alternative to Fourier image analysis.

    The project will combine theoretical development and analysis with experimental demonstration and characterization of these next-generation matterwave techniques. It will involve collaboration with co-workers in France, Denmark and Germany, and may involve extended visits to one or more of these destinations.

    This project is offered through the Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology, and begins with a one-year MRes carried out at the University of Birmingham before beginning the three-year PhD project in Southampton. A 4 year bursary will provide an annual stipend (currently around £14,500), 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 Birmingham Translational Quantum Technology PhD programme. 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 £14,500), 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.
  • Cold Atom Matterwave Gyroscope

    Atom interferometers, which exploit the short de Broglie wavelengths of ultracold atoms and the exact reproducibility of their rest-frame transition frequencies, are quantum technologies with great potential for measuring acceleration and rotation, and for sensing electric, magnetic and gravitational fields. This project will be to build an atom interferometric 'gyroscope' for eventual use in high-precision inertial navigation.

    The gyroscope will be based upon our existing apparatus, in which Raman transitions between the hyperfine states of cold atomic rubidium form the velocity-sensitive atom interferometer at the heart of new schemes for cooling atoms and molecules. A crucial technique, which we have implemented in our current experiment, is the use of composite pulses: borrowed from the field of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and closely related to error correction in quantum computers, these maintain the fidelity of quantum operations in the presence of experimental variations, and allow the rotational sensitivity to be improved by using 'large area' interferometer geometries.

    This broad-ranging project will combine experimental work with lasers, optics, photonic instrumentation and electronics with programming for control and analysis; integrated miniaturization in the later stages of the project will require some microfabrication design and cleanroom work. Throughout, the project will require and develop a deep knowledge of quantum physics necessary for the design, operation, analysis and refinement of the quantum gyroscope.

    This project is offered through the Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology, and begins with a one-year MRes carried out at the University of Birmingham before beginning the three-year PhD project in Southampton. A 4 year bursary will provide an annual stipend (currently around £14,500), 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 Birmingham Translational Quantum Technology PhD programme. 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