PhD in Engineering - Mid-Infrared Quantum Technology for Sensing

   College of Science and Engineering

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  Dr R Millar, Prof D Paul  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Short Summary

Optical sensing systems operating at mid-infrared (MIR) wavelengths can be used to identify an analyte and reveal its chemical composition. Such systems are essential for a diverse range of applications including; monitoring greenhouse gas emissions to help achieve net-zero; precision medical diagnostics; quality control for chemical products; and for defence applications. 

Quantum states of light can be used to enhance the sensitivity of such systems, creating unprecedented sensing performance beyond the standard quantum limit, however to achieve this, MIR quantum optical components need to be developed. One such component is a single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) detector that operates in the mid-infrared. This is a device that can measure single photons of MIR light and could be key to unlocking the potential of quantum sensing systems.

Your project

In this PhD you will design and fabricate novel SPAD detectors, based on the GeSn material system; a Group IV alloy that is compatible with Si foundries and therefore has potential to be low-cost. You will be trained in the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre; a state-of-the-art facility housing £40M of equipment, which will allow you to develop this technology. You will also learn optical & electrical characterisation techniques, and semiconductor device simulation methods. The devices you develop will form part of quantum sensing systems that are being developed by the project consortium and will be used to demonstrate optical sensing beyond the standard quantum limit in a range of applications.


Your project is part of a collaborative EU-UK-Canada collaboration, on project “Mid-Infrared Quantum Technology for Sensing (MIRAQLS)”, which includes; The University of Glasgow, Polytechnique Montreal, Autonomous University of Madrid, University of Milano-Bicocca, University of Warwick, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), ETH Zürich and Paderborn University. You will have the opportunity to liaise with project partners and travel for project meetings.

Career Prospects

In completing the PhD project, you will develop a range of skills that will enable you to have a career in either academia or industry. This will include; nano-fabrication, vacuum systems, optics, integrated photonics, RF electrical measurements and a range of simulation techniques.

The project will contribute to Dr. Ross Millar’s Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship (, which is supported by IQE Silicon, ID Quantique and Heriot Watt University (Prof. Gerald Buller). The research group has ongoing collaborations with Toshiba Europe, Jaguar Land Rover, Bay Photonics, Sivers Photonics, and a number of other academic partners. You will therefore have significant opportunities to liaise with a range of industrial and academic partners.

Entry Requirements

The ideal candidate will have a background in engineering, physics or chemistry, or a related subject, with background knowledge of semiconductor physics. No prior nano-fabrication experience is required. You must be self-motivated, have good interpersonal skills, and be interested in conducting interdisciplinary work that combines theory, simulation, fabrication, and characterisation.

 Interested candidates should contact Dr Ross Millar ([Email Address Removed]) and Prof Douglas Paul ([Email Address Removed]) for more information.

Funding Notes

Funding is available to cover tuition fees for UK/EU applicants for 3 to 3.5 years, as well as paying a stipend at the Research Council rate (estimated £16,062 for session 2022-23).
There will be opportunities to supplement your stipend with paid tutoring and demonstrating work.
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