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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All PhD Projects: Candidate Requirements

  • Applications would be welcome from candidates holding good degrees (1st class, 2:1 honours or MSc) in physics, materials science, mechanical or electronic engineering.
  • Experimental skills are essential.
  • In addition to the standard EPSRC PhD studentship, this position includes an annual allowance to enable attendance at international conferences.
  • This post is open to UK and EU citizens only, due to standard EPSRC eligibility requirements.
  • Closing date: Applications are accepted throughout the year and several start dates throughout the year are possible. Applications for the typical Sept./Oct. 2023 start should be received no later than 31 August 2023.

 

PhD Projects

Ultra-precision machining of photonics

Supervisory teamDr James Gates, Dr Paul Gow, Prof. Corin Gawith

Our team specialises in the development and manufacturing of novel optoelectronic devices for applications in quantum technology, integrated optical sensors and laser optics.

Ultra-precision machining of photonic components has revolutionised the production of optics, such as freeform lenses and mirrors. Modern ultra-precision stages and diamond tools allow bulk optics to be formed with nanometre surface roughness and tolerances. This project will develop tools and ultra-precision processes that are designed specifically for photonics in a variety of materials, including glasses, semiconductors, and nonlinear crystalline materials. Building on collaborations with industrial partners across the UK, this project targets applications in telecommunications, waveguide-based optics, and the development of atom and ion trap systems for quantum computing and sensing.

We are looking for the photonics pioneers of the future to join our vibrant research team and work alongside our world-class researchers to make history. Our physics and materials science PhD programme offers a solid start to any career in optics and photonics, whether you are planning to stay in academia or work in industry. 

 

Nonlinear photon sources for quantum technologies

Supervisory Team: Prof. Peter G R Smith, Prof. Corin Gawith

Our team specialises in the development and manufacturing of novel optoelectronic devices for applications in quantum technology, integrated optical sensors and laser optics.

This research project aims to develop high-power nonlinear optical waveguides as sources of photons for use in quantum imaging, quantum-secured Telecomms, and quantum computing. With world-record results for periodically-poled lithium niobate (PPLN) waveguides and products released via our spin-out company Covesion Ltd, this project will involve waveguide design, cleanroom fabrication, optical (laser) testing of new PPLN waveguide formats, and close collaboration with industrial end-users in various fields. The aim is to develop quantum-enabling components, demonstrators and systems that expand and showcase our abilities.

 

Modulators and low-loss switching for Quantum Technology

Supervisory Team: Dr James Gates, Dr Rex Bannerman, Prof. Corin Gawith 

Our team specialises in the development and manufacturing of novel optoelectronic devices for applications in quantum technology, integrated optical sensors and laser optics.

The goal of this project is to create devices for the Quantum Internet. Using state-of-the-art fabrication facilities at Southampton, we are seeking highly motivated PhD candidates who wish to work on developing core components for interfacing quantum computers and quantum networks. Unlike optical Telecoms, where losses are tolerated and compensated by amplifiers, in the world of Quantum Tech, every photon is precious. So we are seeking to develop new ultra-low-loss optical components which will allow us to create large entangled quantum states. The project will be strongly engineering based, with a focus on practical and manufacturable solutions to the problem of how to preserve photons and provide the unique functions required for the quantum internet.

 

Integrated microwave photonics 

Supervisory Team: Prof. Peter G R Smith, Dr James Gates 

Our team specializes in the development and manufacturing of novel optoelectronic devices for applications in quantum technology, integrated optical sensors and optical telecommunications. 

This PhD project considers the development of planar integrated photonic devices and systems for microwave/RF signal processing in the optical domain, such as a combination of directional couplers, Mach-Zehnder interferometers (MZI) and Bragg gratings, for use in microwave photonic systems. Integrated microelectronic circuits have penetrated every aspect of the field of signal processing, particularly in optical fibre telecommunication systems. Nevertheless, there is increasing exploration of all-optical signal processing due to its unprecedentedly large bandwidth and fast operating speed. One route uses integrated optical chips to realize photonic devices and systems for microwave/RF signal processing.

The research work will also be in collaboration with the academic and industry organizations in the Optics Valley of China in Wuhan, China. The goal of this project is to build monolithic integrated planar devices for use in ultrawide bandwidth and ultrafast signal processing for microwave photonic systems. It will involve the design and manufacture of integrated planar components and devices using the bespoke fabrication facilities developed within our research group, including flame hydrolysis deposition, direct UV laser writing, and also cleanroom facilities. 

 

Deep UV QPM materials

Supervisory Team: Prof. Peter G R Smith, Prof. Corin Gawith

Our team specialises in the development and manufacturing of novel optoelectronic devices for applications in quantum technology, integrated optical sensors and laser optics.

Using state-of-the-art physical machining techniques, high voltage, lasers, and optics, our research aims to develop nonlinear optical waveguides for use in quantum science, ultrashort pulse physics, bio-detection, lithography and material processing. Building on world-record results for periodically-poled lithium niobate (PPLN) waveguides, and several products released via our spin-out company Covesion Ltd, this project combines novel fabrication approaches with well-developed commercial materials to expand the field of engineered nonlinear optics deep into the ultra-violet.

 

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