University of Exeter Featured PhD Programmes
University of Kent Featured PhD Programmes
Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
University of Southampton Featured PhD Programmes
Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) Featured PhD Programmes

Gravitational and quantum field theory analogues in nonlinear optics

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
  • Full or part time
    Dr F Biancalana
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The School of Engineering & Physical Sciences (EPS) at the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh (Scotland), in cooperation with the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science (Germany), offers excellent conditions for PhD training in many areas of experimental and theoretical physics. The formal partnership between the Max Planck Institutes and the Scottish Universities, called IMPP, allows ambitious and capable individuals to be selected for PhD studentships on advanced topics at the cutting edge of science. See the following website for more information:

Quantum field theory and general relativity are two disciplines that are very well-developed and studied in Physics. Some of the most important results that in recent decades these two areas of Physics have produced include Unruh’s and Hawking’s radiation, the Casimir force, the Higgs mechanism of spontaneous symmetry breaking, the physics of black holes and the Big Bang cosmology.

Even though optics and nonlinear optics seem to be completely uncorrelated with the above fields, in recent times researchers have found a number of extremely interesting optical analogies of the above phenomena. For instance, intense and short pulses in a nonlinear medium can closely mimic the physics of black holes and spaces with curvature, and this allows researchers to study the properties of astrophysical object in an optical laboratory. Other examples include the so-called waveguide arrays, i.e. ensembles of optical waveguides which can give the same physics of the Dirac equation, including particle-antiparticle generation, Klein paradox, Zitterbewegung, etc.

The aim of this project is to develop to the full the above analogies, with the aim of discovering new phenomena in nonlinear optics. This will allow our experimental partners to apply this knowledge and construct devices of new generation that are able to control light at a new level. Applications of the successful completion of this theoretical programme include, but are not limited to: supercontinuum generation (i.e. the explosive generation of many frequencies inside an optical medium), soliton physics and four-wave mixing.


- a Master degree (or equivalent) on Theoretical Physics or Mathematical Physics
- basic knowledge of nonlinear physics, quantum theory and the physics of gravitation
- programming skills in MATLAB and Mathematica


With a history dating back to 1821, Heriot-Watt University has established a reputation for world-class teaching and practical, leading-edge research, which has made us one of the top UK universities for business and industry. We’re a vibrant, forward-looking university, well known for the quality of our degrees with employers actively seeking out our graduates.

Heriot-Watt is also Scotland’s most international university with an unsurpassed international in-country presence. We deliver degree programmes to 11,800 students in 150 countries around the world, have campuses in Dubai and Malaysia and boast the largest international student cohort in Scotland.

Funding Notes

We are offering a three year fully funded PhD position in theoretical physics, supervised by Dr. Fabio Biancalana. Only European (including UK) nationals can be considered for the position due to restrictions imposed by the IMPP partnership ( Please contact Dr. Fabio Biancalana for more information on the project ([Email Address Removed])


Please supply 2 reference letters.

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2019
All rights reserved.