The University of Southampton

Optical Engineering and Quantum Photonics PhD Projects

The Optical Engineering and Quantum Photonics Group is led by Professor Peter Smith.

Our team specialises in the development and manufacture of novel optoelectronic devices for applications in quantum technology, integrated optical sensors and laser optics. Working closely with two University spin-outs (Stratophase and Covesion), we aim to develop advanced functionality devices by modifying and patterning standard optoelectronic materials.

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Projects

Quantum Technologies: Integrated optical waveguides for ion trap quantum computing

Working as part of the NQIT (Networked Quantum Information Technologies) hub, this project aims to build optical connections and networks in planar waveguide technology for ion trap based quantum networks. Requiring components at blue wavelengths 350 to 450nm, this project will involve development of glass on silicon waveguides optimised for operation at these demanding short wavelengths.

Working closely with partners in Oxford and Sussex University the studentship will work on some of the most exciting challenges in Quantum Information processing working towards building a scaleable hybrid optical / ion quantum computer.

With a background in physics, electronics, material science or engineering successful candidates will be enthusiastic to work in a multi-disciplinary team with top quality collaborators across the UK and worldwide.

The work will involve cleanroom fabrication, optical design, testing, modelling and theoretical work.

Ultra-precision physical micro-machining of planar optical materials

In conjunction with Loxham Precision Ltd, this project will make use of a suite of state-of-the-art ultra-precision physical micro-machining tools for applications in Quantum technologies, lasers, sensors, MOEMS and telecoms. Offering sub 3nm surface roughnesses this novel project will aim to create a new paradigm in the manufacture of optical integrated components. For example, by forming high finesse cavities in nonlinear optical materials and lasers, the project will create new optical microsystems for optical frequency combs in the infrared.

With a background in physics, electronics, material science or mechanical engineering successful candidates will be enthusiastic to work in a multi-disciplinary team with top quality collaborators across the UK and worldwide. This project will particularly appeal to candidates that enjoy hands-on engineering and real-world practical challenges. The work will involve cleanroom fabrication, optical design, testing, modelling and theoretical work.

Nonlinear conversion for single photon detection

This project will look at the development of cavity nonlinear optical elements for room temperature mid-IR conversion. The work will be part of the EPSRC Established Career Fellowship (Quintessence) held by Prof Peter G.R Smith. The project will involve the development of cavity enhanced nonlinear devices using periodically poled lithium niobate. Offering the potential for high efficient wavelength conversion the project will look at two main areas, firstly, efficient generation of photon pairs for secure optical communications and secondly, on up-conversion detection for the 2 to 4.5 micron spectral regions.

The work will be collaborative with project partners including DSTL, Menlo Systems and Toptica. With a background in physics, electronics, material science or engineering successful candidates will be enthusiastic to work in a multi-disciplinary team with top quality collaborators across the UK and worldwide. The work will involve cleanroom fabrication, optical design, testing, modelling and theoretical work.

3D Printed Integrated Optics

From its inception 3D printing has been applied to a range of fields. Photonics is an emerging field into which additive and subtractive laser manufacture techniques are being applied to enhance manufacturing capability.

This PhD project looks at developing 3D printing techniques, for the fabrication of integrated optical circuits. The project will develop precision printing techniques in a range of materials including optical quality doped-glass (achieved through Flame Hydrolysis Deposition), electro-optic polymers and metal species (deposited using cleanroom toolset). Laser processing will be made at a combination of wavelengths from the UV (213 and 244nm) to the Infrared (9.4 microns) and the application of a high precision computer controlled air-bearing translation stages.

Scalable heralded single-photon sources

The single-photon source is the fundamental building block for quantum technologies in photonics, particularly for quantum computing. Currently, no one can run more than a handful of such sources at a time, and their efficiency is limited. In collaboration with the University of Oxford and Imperial College London, this project aims to tackle that problem.

It is an open question how to scale up from 3-4 sources to 20, or even 100.

There are several possible approaches to the problem possible in a planar waveguide chip, where we currently make state-of-the-art sources, which must be evaluated for feasibility and performance. The leading contenders will then be designed, fabricated, and evaluated in practice over the course of the PhD project.

The project will involve theoretical calculations, computer models, device specifications, and device fabrication in the cleanroom, leading to a broad base of skills upon completion. Students with strong background in any of these areas would be suitable candidates for the position.

Optical Quantum Circuitry

Manipulation of quantum states of light is important, but difficult problem, especially on-chip. Active devices are a particularly important problem that can be addressed using technologies present in the Planar Materials Group, in collaboration with the ultrafast quantum optics and optical metrology group, Oxford.

The goal of this project would be to integrate a fast modulator design with existing quantum light devices in UV-written waveguides on chip, in order to allow for on-the-fly adaptive measurement and control of quantum light.

Historical approaches to fast quantum control have relied on large bulk optics and high voltages, while this studentship will focus on bringing those modulators on-chip using organic polymer EOMs.

This project will involve designing and optimising the EOMs themselves, as well as the fabrication process and integration into the existing quantum networks for any desired quantum operation to be performed. While this project is quantum-technology focussed, a background in quantum physics is by no means required: a student in electronics or engineering interested in quantum technology would do well to apply.

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