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Quantum Communication beyond Qubits

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M Malik
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

High-dimensional entanglement in the temporal and spatial photonic degrees of freedom will be used to surpass the distance and noise limitations of state-of-the-art quantum communication systems.

The fundamental unit of information in quantum physics is the quantum bit, or qubit—simultaneously existing as a “1” and a “0.” Ranging from rudimentary quantum computers to state-of-the-art quantum communication systems, qubits are ubiquitous in quantum technologies today. However, quantum states can be much more complex in nature, consisting of many more levels than just two [1]. Such high-dimensional states promise quantum information systems with vastly increased data capacity, as well as an increased resistance to environmental noise or eavesdropping/hacking attacks [2].

In this project, you will study and experimentally generate high-dimensional analogues of qubits—so called “qudits,” using the complex spatial and temporal structure of light. You will develop techniques to efficiently measure photonic entanglement in the position-momentum and time-frequency degrees of freedom [3], and apply them for pushing the limits of state-of-the-art quantum technologies such as noise-robust quantum crypto systems, quantum state teleportation, and semi-device-independent quantum random number generators.

You will be based in the Beyond Binary Quantum Information (BBQ) Lab at Heriot-Watt University. Led by Dr. Mehul Malik, the BBQ Lab consists of a small, vibrant team of researchers working at the forefront of the quantum technological revolution. You will conduct your research in the brand new photonics laboratory facilities of the BBQ Lab, which is funded by generous grants from the UK EPSRC and the European Commission (QuantERA). The BBQ Lab has significant links to leadings group in the EU/North America, and benefits from substantial resources available through Heriot-Watt’s membership in the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme.

During this project, you will develop significant expertise in theoretical and experimental quantum information science, with specific skills in programming, experimental quantum photonics, and entanglement theory. Throughout the project, you will have the opportunity to develop your communication skills through international/UK collaborative projects, publication of peer-reviewed papers, and attendance at international conferences. A willingness and ability to travel globally would be an advantage.

The ideal candidate should have a good understanding of quantum physics and photonics, as well as enthusiasm for experimental work. This research project would ideally suit a candidate with a background in one of the following disciplines: Physics, Electronic Engineering, Computer Science, Natural Sciences, although we are open to any enthusiastic applicant with a science-related background. A top class degree/high grades in your field of study are essential.


All applicants must have or expect to have a 1st class MChem, MPhys, MSci, MEng or equivalent degree by Autumn 2019. Selection will be based on academic excellence and research potential, and all short-listed applicants will be interviewed (in person or by Skype). DTP’s are only open to UK/EU applicants. DTP Studentships are only available for students who meet residency requirements set out by EPSRC.
JWS Scholarships are also open to exceptional overseas candidates.

Closing Date

All applications must be received by 8th February 2019. All successful candidates must commence studies by 1st December 2019 at the very latest.

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 Bio-Engineering & Bio-Science PhD, Chemistry PhD, Physics PhD, Chemical Engineering PhD, Mechanical Engineering PhD or Electrical PhD as appropriate and select October 2019 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. £14,777 and full fees will be paid, for 3.5 years.


[1] Krenn et al, Phil Trans R Soc A 375, 20150442 (2017), arXiv link
[2] Mirhosseini et al, New J Phys 17, 033033 (2015), article link
[3] Bavaresco et al, Nature Physics 14, 1032-1037 (2016), arXiv link

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