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Microwave Quantum Illumination with trapped electrons

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, August 30, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The Sussex Centre for Quantum Technologies is committed to the development of novel quantum technologies as well as to fundamental quantum physics research. The University of Sussex currently hosts a grant portfolio related to quantum technologies in excess of £14M and is one of the largest UK research centres on Quantum Technology.

This PhD project is centred on the area of Quantum Metrology and Sensing, namely on the use of quantum microwave radiation for the detection, measurement and scanning of objects with unprecedented sensitivity: from large devices to biologic samples, materials and others. For this, the PhD project will focus on demonstrating experimentally, for the first time, the “Quantum Illumination” protocol in the microwave domain [1,2]. “Quantum Illumination” has been proposed and theoretically demonstrated as a revolutionary quantum metrology technique, potentially capable of overcoming the accuracy limitations of current MW measurement instruments, by probing the objects with entangled microwave photons [2]. However, a practical implementation of the quantum illumination technique is still an open experimental challenge. At Sussex we have developed a pioneering ion trap quantum technology, which uses a single trapped electron as the quantum emitter and receiver of the microwave radiation [3]. This will allow for the efficient and practical realisation of the “quantum illumination” protocol. The future real-world applications of our research are Near-Field Scanning Microwave Microscopy, Quantum Radar and Quantum Microwave Imaging.

The PhD candidate will work with an existing experimental cryogenic ion trap setup at the University of Sussex. The successful candidate will receive training in ion trap technology, magnetic fields design with superconductors, cryogenics, RF electronics, MW engineering and quantum optics. In addition the student will also have the chance to write scientific articles and present their work at international conferences. The project involves international collaboration with world-class quantum optics theorists in Italy and Spain, as well as with industry leaders in the UK.


[1] Seth Lloyd, “Quantum Illumination,” Science, 321, 1463 (2008).
[2] Shabir Barzanjeh et al, “Microwave Quantum Illumination,” Physical Review Letters, 114, 080507 (2015).
[3] April Cridland et al, “Single microwave photon detection with a trapped electron,” Photonics 3, 59 (20016)

Funding Notes/ Eligibility

Applicants should preferably have (or expect to achieve) a First or Upper Second Class Masters degree in Physics, or a related subject.

The position is for 4 years, fully funded (fees and stipend) for UK/EU students. The project is funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and is also strongly financially supported by Leonardo MW Ltd.


Apply online at and select the full time PhD in Physics with a September 2019 start date

Applications will be considered until the position has been filled.

When you apply, you should include:

- the supervisor’s name (Dr Jose Verdu) in the ‘Suggested supervisor’ section
- ’Microwave Quantum Illumination with trapped electrons’ in the ‘Award detail’ section
- a research proposal/personal statement which describes your suitability for the project
- 2 academic references
- your transcripts from any previously obtained degrees. If you have not yet completed your undergraduate degree, you can provide an interim transcript or record of any marks obtained so far.

The position will be filled as soon as a suitable candidate is found so you are encouraged to apply as soon as you are able to.

Further information

This is a full-time studentship and the successful candidate will be able to devote their whole time to research. With agreement of the supervisor the student may also take on a limited amount of teaching, for which additional payment will be made. The group’s webpages can be found at: and

Contact details

Contact Dr Jose Verdu:

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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