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  Levitation to understand quantum physics at the macroscopic scale

   Department of Physics

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  Dr J Millen  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Join our international and diverse research group, studying the ways in which physics changes at the nanoscale. We aim to shed light on a range of phenomena, such as the limits of quantum physics, bio-energetics and nano-thermodynamics, and build new technologies with levitated nanoparticles at the core. 

Our team is world-leading in the control and understanding of rotation at the nanoscale, which we apply to studies of fundamental quantum science and the development of state-of-the-art sensors. Rotation has a special place in quantum physics, and we will exploit this to create an angular momentum superposition of a levitated silicon nano-cylinder. You will build upon previous work in the research group, where we have learned to use the polarization of light to precisely control motion at the nanoscale. 

This project will benefit from your creativity and enthusiasm, with opportunities to learn and apply a wide range of skills, including experimental design, optics, data analysis, vacuum engineering and programming. You will be supported by international collaborators, expert postdoctoral researchers, our collaborative team of PhD students and the group leader Dr. James Millen, who is a pioneer in the field of levitated nanoparticles. There will be opportunities for international travel and public communication activities, and you are encouraged to develop skills through teaching in the Department of Physics. 

Find more information at or by contacting Dr. Millen directly ([Email Address Removed]).  

Candidate Requirements: 

Prospective candidates will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria: 

  • A passion for research, and motivation. 
  • A desire to learn new skills; not being afraid to apply yourself to new problems. 
  • Creativity and a collaborative spirit; the ability to work in a team. 
  • The ability to clearly communicate your ideas to your colleagues and to people beyond our research group. 
  • The ability to analyse data and test hypotheses. 
  • Practical laboratory experience. 

The following skills are desirable, but can be learned during your study: 

  • Knowledge of data presentation / plotting software. 
  • Programming skills (e.g. Matlab / Python). 
  • Experience in working in a research environment. 
  • Experience in working with optics. 
  • Experience in working with vacuum systems. 

To be considered for the position candidates must apply via King’s Apply online application system. Details are available at 

Please indicate your desired supervisor and quote research group “Photonics & Nanotechnology” in your application and all correspondence. 

The selection process will involve a pre-selection on documents, if selected this will be followed by an invitation to an interview. If successful at the interview, an offer will be provided in due time. 

Physics (29)

Funding Notes

Funding is available for 3.5 years and covers tuition fees at the level set for UK/EU students, c. £5,300 p.a. and a tax-free stipend of approximately £17,000 p.a. with possible inflationary increases after the first year.


Optomechanics with Levitated Particles
James Millen, Tania Monteiro, Robert Pettit & A. Nick Vamivakas
Reports on Progress in Physics 83, 026401 (2020)

Full Rotational Control of Levitated Silicon Nanorods
Stefan Kuhn, Alon Kosloff, Benjamin A. Stickler, Fernando Patolsky, Klaus Hornberger, Markus Arndt, James Millen
Optica 4, 356-360 (2017)
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