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PhD Studentship on developing and implementing technologies to build a portable atomic clock based on trapped calcium ions

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, January 31, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

We offer a 3.5 year PhD position in the Ion Trap Cavity-QED and Molecular Physics Group in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Sussex.

£14,777 (2018-19) per year tax-free bursary plus the waiver of UK/EU fees each year for 3.5 years. Full-time study.

This amount can be supplemented by tutoring.

The position includes an additional yearly travel allowance for attending conferences and workshops.

PhD project
The currently most precise atomic clocks are based on optical transitions within neutral atoms or trapped atomic ions. With frequency uncertainties on the order of 1 second in 30 billion years, these systems supersede current atomic clocks based on microwave transitions. Despite their superior performance, these optical clocks are still constrained to the research labs due to their high power consumption and the volume of the required infrastructure. The aim of the project is to develop and implement technologies to build a portable atomic clock based on trapped calcium ions. Utilising the advances in optical fibre technology and laser development, an all-fibre system will be set up and tested. Integrating optical fibres into the ion trap structure for fluorescence collection and light delivery as well as an all-fibre laser system ensures the stability and compact size of the optical clock.

The project includes developing a compact laser system for generating, cooling, and interrogating the ions, integrating all optical components in to the ion trapping structure, building the required electronic control system as well as designing of the vacuum system. The heart of the clock is an ultra-stable laser (clock laser) which will be developed in collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory.

After successful testing the portable clock system, the project aims to explore novel schemes to eliminate systematic frequency shifts due to electric and magnetic fields. Finally, the clocks performance will be evaluated by comparing its stability with primary and secondary frequency standards at the NPL.

The project is within the Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology and in collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory.

As part of the National Quantum Technology Programme to commercialise quantum technologies, the project includes the investigation of potential commercialisation pathways for the atomic clock system and its components.

Detailed eligibility criteria
Applicants should hold, or expect to hold, a UK undergraduate degree in physics or a related subject. Due to funding restrictions, the studentship is open to UK and EU resident students only. However, we also welcome applications from self-funded non-EU students.

Online applications at:

State in the Funding section of the application form that you are applying for the "PhD Studentships in Experimental Atomic Physics" choosing a January 2019 start date. Other start dates later in 2019 may also be possible but for the purposes of your application, please select January.

Early application is advised. The studentship will be allocated as soon as a suitable candidate is found.

For further information about the project, please get in touch with Prof Matthias Keller:

For practical questions about the application process and/or eligibility for funding, please contact:

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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