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Integrated Ultrafast Photonics within the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) Project Optical Frequency Combs in Optical Micro-resonator for Portable Atomic Clocks

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, September 01, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The Emergent Photonics Lab of the School of Mathematical and Physical Science (MPS) is pleased to offer a funded PhD position in the field of Ultrafast Photonics.

The core interest of the Emergent Photonics Lab is Ultrafast Photonics with major research lines in Integrated Photonics, Optical Metrology and Terahertz Photonics. The scope of this experimental project, with some possibility for theoretical work, is to develop compact microcomb devices based on special pulses called laser cavity solitons for portable atomic clock applications. The PhD scholarship is funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).

The project highlights its timeliness and high potential, as to set up a strong enabling technology for miniature atomic clocks. The latter has been recognized as a key 2.0 quantum technology from EPSRC-DSTL UK quantum technology landscape 2014 as well as from the European Commission (EU Quantum Technology Flagship-Intermediate Report 2017). As future high-tech embedded systems, optical micro-combs will find a large range of applications, from environmental and medical sensors to navigation and communication devices, including for 5G, quantum and space technologies.

The novelty of the project lies in a novel generation of a compact turn-key highly-stabilized clock, locked to an atomic reference, in contrast to the bulky and expensive atomic clock RF sources available today. This is obtained from a novel high-tech photonic realization of a micro-comb optical generator using a laser system with nonlinear intracavity microresonators.

This project transversely intersects the kernel of our research interests. The outcomes are likely to have a key impact in several domains of industrial focus, from environmental detection to metrology, navigation, telecommunication and others.
This PhD project will complement our efforts in the project subject field. The candidate will gain access to the Emergent Photonics Laboratory, a 110m2 facility that comprises a very large spectrum of state-of-the-art photonic equipment (representing a total investment exceeding 2 Million of GBP from different funding sources):
-30m2 of optical tables
-Two atomic-clock stabilised ultrafast optical combs
-Ultrafast microwave-on-optics diagnostics (i.e. generators, modulators and detectors)
-Ultrafast electronic acquisition systems (80GS/s with bandwidth >36GHz)
-High energy ultrafast optical sources ([email protected] Ppeak>50GW)
-Several types of ultrafast laser oscillators (Ti:Sa, Er-doped fibre oscillator, optical parametric oscillators).
-Several diagnostic workbenches for ultrafast photonics.
-Diagnostics and equipment for Terahertz Photonics.

The PhD candidate will be involved in the requisition of further major equipment.

The PhD project goal is the establishment (modelling and experiments) of a self-stabilised micro-comb suitable for industrial deployment. As such, the involvement in a significant IP production is foreseen. The scientific production of the supervisor can be found here More details about the project will be discussed at the interview stage.
The project deploys within a fertile international collaboration of researchers. The successful candidate will join an interdisciplinary team and is expected to aim for an aggressive publication/dissemination strategy.

The project will be supervised by Dr Alessia Pasquazi.


You should have or will soon complete a UK Master’s level degree in physics or electrical engineering, or the non-UK equivalent.

You should be a UK/European Union (EU) student who has been resident in the UK/EU for at least three years.

You should have a strong interest in research coupled with outstanding technical and/or theoretical skills. You must have the ability to manage resources, be able to work independently and to organize and lead small team activities.

Applicants must have English ability above IELTS 6.0

Funding Notes

You will receive:
• fully-funded tuition fees for 3 and a half years (at the UK/EU rate)
• a tax free bursary for living costs for 3 and a half years. For 2018/19 this is £14,777 per year.
• a research training support grant for 3 and a half years of £1,650 per year.
You may also supplement your income with paid teaching (with your supervisor’s agreement).


Informal enquiries are very welcome. Contact Dr Alessia Pasquazi

Apply via the University of Sussex on-line system at

Apply for September 2019 admission, selecting the PhD in Physics and stating in the Financial Information section of the form that you are applying for this award, supervised by Dr Alessia Pasquazi.

Provide a statement explaining

-your interest in the research field

-the skills you can bring to it (including any IT or electronic abilities)

-your overall suitability for the research

-your familiarity (if any) in producing publication-level scientific manuscripts.

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Sussex in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.72

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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