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Semiconductor Single‑Photon Detection in the Short-Wave Infrared (EPS2020/18)


School of Engineering & Physical Sciences

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Prof G Buller No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Development of new experimental approaches to semiconductor based single‑photon detection via hybrid geometry/material single photon detectors.

We are offering a four year fully funded PhD position in semiconductor single‑photon detector design and characterisation for quantum circuitry applications. This vacancy is open to suitably qualified individuals, regardless of nationality.

Single‑photon detectors are the key components behind many of the new and emerging photonic technologies. Single‑photon detection at visible and low‑end near infrared wavelengths (in the range 400 to 1060 nm) based on silicon (Si) is a relatively mature technology with several efficient devices commercially available but single‑photon detectors for longer wavelengths are still largely experimental. This relative lack of maturity is of increased relevance when undertaking quantum information experiments in optical fibre as the majority of installed optical fibre is single–mode at wavelengths around 1300 nm and 1550 nm. This spectral range also permits compatibility with Si‑based photonic quantum circuitry, where major research breakthroughs are occurring. Additionally, such detectors would be capable of detecting photons with wavelengths that lie in certain atmospheric transmission windows, as well as infrared gas absorption features, notably those of greenhouse gas. Furthermore, they offer improved eye‑safety in remote sensing applications, such as low‑light imaging and depth profiling applications. Therefore, there is now a drive to develop efficient detectors for use at these wavelengths. Our group is at the forefront of developing new experimental approaches to semiconductor based single‑photon detection. This PhD will involve collaborative research with other major UK universities, including leading groups in the field.

Our group has five laboratories (recently refurbished) with a total floor area of more than 105 m2. The research group has ownership of world‑leading state‑of‑the‑art equipment with a total value in excess of £2 million. Strong links have been forged with other researchers both within Heriot‑Watt University, at other national and international institutions and in the commercial sector. With six research associates and six postgraduate students, the equipment and expertise immediately available to the research group allows the rapid development of world‑leading experimental systems and test‑beds. The group will commence their leadership of a prestigious £5M+ EPSRC Programme Grant SPEXS in February 2020, which will provide long-term support for this research.

We are now looking for a talented individual to join us and work on a new ground-breaking project with the potential of publications in several high impact journals. A suitable applicant will have a 1st class undergraduate degree or equivalent in a physics course or related subject and be strongly motivated with the drive required to pursue three or more years of intensive practical and theoretical work. The project will require both individual and group work and a successful candidate must be capable of operating effectively in both environments. A knowledge and understanding of Silvaco Atlas semiconductor modelling software would be highly advantageous but is not essential. A relevant undergraduate project would assist in selection of a candidate.

All applicants must have or expect to have a 1st class MChem, MPhys, MSci, MEng or equivalent degree by Autumn 2020. Selection will be based on academic excellence and research potential, and all short-listed applicants will be interviewed (in person or by Skype).
Some of our scholarships are only open to UK/EU applicants who meet UK residency requirements set out by EPSRC.

Funding Notes

The annual stipend will be approx. £15k and full fees will be paid for a period of 4 years. Overseas (non-EU) candidates will be considered in exceptional cases.
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