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Optimising protocols for quantum-enhanced spin-based magnetometry (EPS2020/21)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, February 28, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Spin-based sensors are a promising platform for nanoscale magnetic resonance imaging. This project is concerned with unlocking their full potential through the exploration and development of quantum control approaches based on Hamiltonian- and machine learning approaches.

This project will build on recent experimental and theoretical work showing, respectively, that spin sensors can detect the tiny magnetic field of isolated proximal nuclear spins and that their precision is boosted by quantum effects beyond what is possible classically. This constitutes an exciting new frontier in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), a phenomenon that has found numerous applications across science and medicine, most notably MRI scanning. To go further, this project will explore the performance of sensors utilising not a single but small clusters of interacting electron spins under active quantum control. Developing optimised control approaches and sensing protocols will be tackled through a number of techniques including e.g. genetic algorithms, Bayesian approaches, machine learning, and “Hamiltonian learning”. During this project, you will also learn about simulating the dynamics of complex open quantum systems, quantum metrology as a leading quantum technology, and how measurement precision can be captured using quantifiers of information gain. The project will benefit from active collaboration with local experimentalist Dr Cristian Bonato, allowing ideas to be tested in the laboratory. See for more information.


All applicants must have or expect to have a 1st class MChem, MPhys, MSci, MEng or equivalent degree by Autumn 2020. Selection will be based on academic excellence and research potential, and all short-listed applicants will be interviewed (in person or by Skype). This scholarship is only open to UK/EU applicants who meet UK residency requirements set out by EPSRC.

Closing Date

All applications must be received by 28th February 2020. All successful candidates should usually expect to start in September/October 2020.

How to Apply

Apply Online -

When applying through the Heriot-Watt on-line system please ensure you provide the following information:
(a) in ‘Study Option’
You will need to select ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Postgraduate Research’. ‘Programme’ presents you with a drop-down menu. Choose Physics PhD and select September 2020 for study option (this can be updated at a later date if required)
(b) in ‘Research Project Information’

You will be provided with a free text box for details of your research project. Enter Title and Reference number of the project for which you are applying and also enter the supervisor’s name.

This information will greatly assist us in tracking your application.

Please note that once you have submitted your application, it will not be considered until you have uploaded your CV and transcripts.

Funding Notes

The annual stipend will be approx. £15k and full fees will be paid for a period of 3.5 years.

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