Chiral molecules are found across the natural world, for example in the amino acids that make up the building blocks of life. This means that characterisation, sorting and separation of chiral mixtures into their left- and right-handed constituents is of particular importance in pharmaceuticals, with approximately half of the drugs on the market being chiral. Most contemporary enantiomer separation techniques are based on chemical processes, which can be harmful to the molecules being sorted. This project will use a broad range of techniques from quantum optics and cavity quantum electrodynamics to develop and optimise new methodologies for all-optical enantiomeric manipulation, using for example optical surface traps and matter-wave diffraction. The discovery and optimisation of an industrially-viable route towards all-optical enantiomer separation would be of far-reaching use in health technologies.
Based in the School of Physics and Astronomy within the College of Science and Engineering, the candidate will reside Quantum Theory group headed by Prof. Stephen Barnett, working directly with Dr. Robert Bennett. The Quantum Theory group has a broad range of interests, including quantum information, quantum thermodynamics and light-matter interactions. It is closely aligned with the experimental team of Prof. Sonja Franke-Arnold, who have significant expertise in implementing chiral optical systems. Similarly, the scattering and propagation of the kind of complex light fields required for chiral manipulation is the focus of the Extreme Light group headed by Prof. Daniele Faccio. While being based in Quantum Theory, the candidate will have the opportunity to initiate and develop collaborative work amongst these groups within Glasgow and elsewhere.
Applicants must have an upper second- or first-class honours degree or equivalent in Physics, ideally with a theory focus. Exceptional candidates from closely-related disciplines will also be considered.
Skills/Attributes: • Problem-solving skills and research creativity, able to connect different areas of physics • Self-motivation, initiative and independent thought/working • Excellent interpersonal skills including team working and a collegiate approach • Excellent communication skills (oral and written) in an appropriate range of contexts