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Structure and dynamics of topological defects in high-spin spinor Bose-Einstein Condensates (BORGHMU19SCIC)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, April 04, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Topological defects occur ubiquitously across otherwise very dissimilar physical systems, from vortices in superfluids and disclinations in liquid crystals to cosmic strings [i]. In spinor Bose-Einstein condensates [ii] that allow full freedom to the atoms’ quantum-mechanical spin, this opens up the possibility of using highly accessible atomic systems to study complex topological objects and even emulate physics that is otherwise difficult or impossible to study in the laboratory.[iii,iv]

The central aim of this PhD project is to suggest and model specific defect configurations that may now be realised in state-of-the-art experiments using condensates that exhibit novel symmetry properties. In particular we will model non-Abelian vortices whose charges do not commute, leading to entirely novel dynamics [v]. A secondary aim is to identify and describe analogies with other areas of physics, such as high-energy and condensed-matter physics.

As a PhD student on this project, you will employ mean-field theory to model the spinor condensate. The resulting non-linear equations can in general only be solved numerically. Research results will be obtained using a large computer cluster. Developing and refining numerical methods will be integral to the project. In addition, you will employ mathematical group theory to guide and interpret your studies.

We are looking for an enthusiastic candidate eager to work in this rapidly developing area of atomic physics and superfluidity, with links to condensed-matter physics. A background involving quantum mechanics and calculus is essential. You must also be comfortable working with computers and ideally have some familiarity with programming. Knowledge of numerical analysis is desirable. As a student you will take part in existing research collaborations, including the possibility of interaction with experimenters.

Interviews will be held week commencing 29 April 2019.

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here:

Type of programme: PhD

Project start date: October 2019

Mode of study: Full time

Entry requirements: Acceptable first degree - Physics, Mathematics, Natural Sciences (or equivalent). b. The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is in a Faculty of Science competition for funded studentships. These studentships are funded for 3 years and comprise home/EU fees, an annual stipend of £14,777 and £1,000 per annum to support research training. Overseas applicants may apply but they are required to fund the difference between home/EU and overseas tuition fees (which for 2018-19 are detailed on the University’s fees pages at View Website. Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual increase).


i) G. Volovik, "The Universe in a Helium Droplet", Oxford University Press, Oxford (2003).

ii) Y. Kawaguchi and M. Ueda, Phys. Rep. 520, 253 (2012).

iii) M. W. Ray et al, Nature 505, 657 (2014).

iv) I. Bloch, J. Dalibard and S. Nascimbène, Nat. Phys. 8, 267 (2012).

v) M. O. Borgh and J. Ruostekoski, Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 275302 (2016).

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