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Inertial navigation using atom matterwave interferometry

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Saturday, August 31, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Long-range navigation can be difficult if GPS is not available (underground and underwater) or denied by jamming or spoofing. Inertial navigation can be effective for many hours, after which conventional systems tend to lose their sense of direction. Cold atom rotation sensors (‘gyros’), which use the quantum technology of matterwave interference, have shown exquisite performance in laboratory demonstrations, and prototypes are being developed for navigation applications.

This project, supported by Thales R&T UK and within Southampton’s Quantum Control group, will explore the navigational performance possible using cold atom inertial sensors, by combining characterization of the quantum device operation, data on environmental variations, and analysis of integration within an inertial navigation system. This cross-disciplinary project will thus span aspects from fundamental quantum physics to practical system design and performance. It will suit physics graduates with an interest in navigation applications, and systems engineers interested in exploiting an emerging range of quantum technologies.

For informal enquiries, contact Dr Tim Freegarde, telephone +44 (0)23 8059 2347, , or visit and

Funding Notes

The 4-year studentship provides full funding, including an annual tax-free stipend of around £15,000. Students must have a relevant connection with the UK – usually established by residence – and have, or be about to obtain, a first or upper-second class degree in Physics, Engineering or a related discipline.


A Dunning et al., Composite pulses for interferometry in a thermal cold atom cloud, Phys Rev A 90, 033608 (2014)
J Rushton et al., The feasibility of a fully miniaturized magneto-optical trap for portable ultracold quantum technology, Rev Sci Instrum 85, 121501 (2014)
A Dunning et al., Interferometric laser cooling of atomic rubidium, Phys. Rev. Lett. 115, 073004 (2015)
M Carey et al., Matterwave interferometric velocimetry of cold Rb atoms, J Mod Opt 65 (5-6), 657-666 (2018)
J Saywell et al., Optimal control of mirror pulses for cold-atom interferometry, Phys Rev A 98, 023625 (2018)
M Carey et al., Velocimetry of cold atoms by matterwave interferometry, Phys Rev A 99, 023631 (2019)

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