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PhD Vacancy - Mini-Fountain Cold Atom Clock: building a prototype of a small footprint cold-atom frequency standard

PhD Opportunities

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Prof C Foot , Dr KS Szymaniec Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

EPSRC iCASE Oxford DPhil studentship in collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory, intended for EEA applicants. The digital infrastructure and economy we rely on as society requires wide access to reliable and accurate timing signals synchronized to robust and largely autonomous timescales. The aim of this project is to build a prototype of a small footprint cold-atom frequency standard (clock) with short- and long-term stability enabling disciplining a local timescale to a residual deviation from UTC time smaller than a nanosecond over several weeks. Once fully developed, the mini-fountain clock is expected to find commercial applications in telecommunication, research facilities and defence. A planned novel compact optical system could also be a stand-alone product for applications in atomic physics experiments, including matter-wave interferometers. The key subsystems of the clock to be developed include: a miniaturised fountain physics package, a novel optical bench, and electronics for control and data acquisition.

The PhD candidate will have the opportunity to work on all aspects of an atomic physics experiment, such as ultra-high vacuum, narrowband lasers, microwave electronics, automated data acquisition, advanced statistical analysis and more. New research results (e.g. on cold atom detection and all-fibre optics) will be published in applied physics journals and presented at international conferences. A systems engineering approach will be followed throughout the project lifetime which will train the candidate in sound working practices applicable to other advanced work environments. The experimental work will be carried out at National Physical Laboratory in Teddington with access to their precise timing infrastructure, engineering services, IT support etc.

For more information and to apply, CLICK HERE ( or contact Prof. Chris Foot ([Email Address Removed]) or Dr Krzysztof Szymaniec ([Email Address Removed]).

About You
EPSRC iCASE Oxford DPhil studentship in collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory, intended for EEA applicants.

About The Company
We’re transforming. As a national laboratory, we’re exploring even more commercial routes to market and that’s presenting us with greater opportunity – for you and us. Our success relies on the diversity and talent of our people, we strive to nurture and respect individuals to ensure everyone feels valued and supported to excel in their chosen field. This value is at the core of our organisation.

We believe in a culture of fairness by treating everyone on the basis of their own individual merits and abilities regardless of their own or perceived identity, background or any other factor irrelevant to a person’s work. At NPL we are committed to the health and well-being of our employees. Flexible working and social activities are embedded in our culture to create a positive work-life balance, along with a broad range of benefits ( NPL’s values ( are at the heart of what we do and they shape the way we interact, develop our people and celebrate success.

As part of our commitment to diversity & inclusion, we signed up to the Institute of Physics’ Project Juno ( in 2015 as a Juno Supporter. NPL were proud to be awarded Juno Practitioner status in 2018. NPL also joined Stonewall as a Diversity champion in 2015, participating in their annual Workplace Equality Index for the equality of LGBT+ community at NPL. In 2018, NPL became a member of the Business Disability Forum and joined the disability confident scheme as level 1 committed employer.

To ensure everyone has an equal chance, we’re always willing to make reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process. If you would like to discuss, please contact us.
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