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Free-space quantum communications

School of Engineering & Physical Sciences

Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Short project description:

Applied research exploring free-space quantum communications from short-range “last-mile” links up to long-distance satellite links. The researcher will investigate the application of novel photonic technology in free-space quantum communications.

Long description:
Applied research exploring free-space quantum communications from short-range “last-mile” links up to long-distance satellite links. The researcher will investigate novel photonic technology to improve free-space quantum communications. The photonic devices include next-generation single-photon detector array technology, waveguide quantum measurements, and specialised optical fibre.
The project will involve both desk-based feasibility studies and hands-on experimental work, giving you a well-rounded PhD experience. You will build skills in programming, free-space optical design/construction, single-photon detection, working with specialist optical fibre, and conducting field trials. Throughout this project, you will have many opportunities to develop transferrable communication skills through industrial and academic collaborations, the publication of peer-reviewed papers, and attendance of conferences/workshops.
An ideal candidate will be strongly motivated to pursue the 3.5 years of intensive academic research. The candidate should have the ability to work both individually and in a group. Previous experience of laboratory work is expected, as the research will be laboratory intensive. Experience with programming languages, such as Matlab or Python, would be highly advantageous for a candidate. The research is closely aligned with industrial needs, and a candidate with (or seeking) industrial experience would be advantageous. Candidates from engineering disciplines are also encouraged to apply for the project, even though they may not think they have the relevant physics background.
The PhD student will join the Single-Photon Group ( under the supervision of a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow, Dr Ross Donaldson, for a fully-funded PhD position. The Single-Photon Group has a long-standing track record in researching ground-breaking quantum communication systems, which has led to them playing a leading role in the UK National Quantum Technology Programme. The group has well equipped state-of-the-art research facilities as well as an experienced team of more 8 postdocs/research fellows, 6 full-time PhD students. The team also play a leading role in a fully-funded satellite-to-ground CubeSat quantum communications mission.

Supervisor name: Dr Ross Donaldson

Supervisor HWU email address:

Funding (if known) : DTP– 3.5 years @ £14,553 per year (UK only)

Subject areas:
o Applied Physics
o Optical Physics
o Telecommunications
o Mechanical engineering
o Electrical / electronic engineering

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