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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High finesse rod resonator circuits for quantum sensing - closing deadline 17th Jan 2020

The objective of this project is to develop a platform for real-world deployable high-finesse optical resonators. In the past several years high finesse cavities have led to a number impressive demonstrations such as optical comb generation, entangled single photon generation for a variety of the sensor systems. Following on from innovations realised during a previous Dstl studentship, this project will develop a fabrication methodology and explore a new range of integrated resonator circuits. A key aim of the project is to improve the robustness of high-finesse cavities via commercially scalable fabrication process.

The project will be laboratory focused which will involve cleanroom fabrication, development of bespoke laser based fabrication methods and optical characterisation. The PhD is funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), as part of the UK’s Quantum Technology programme. As such the student will also benefit from regular interaction and site visits with Dstl staff.

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

To find out more and register your interest please email Paula Smith

Up-conversion detectors based on PPLN waveguides (Miniaturising components for imagining in low light)

This project aims to develop a new class of quantum optical detectors for imaging in low-light environments, such as LIDAR for driverless cars and environmental monitoring of greenhouse gases. This will be achieved by up-converting photons from the 2-5 micron region to shorter wavelengths enabling detection by standard silicon based photodiodes and cameras. The project will utilise our proprietary technology in periodically poled lithium niobate (PPLN) with specific objectives:

  • to develop optical systems for up-conversion and efficient measurement of single photons
  • to build modules for operation with single mode fibres using PPLN waveguides
  • to find ways to miniaturise the pump laser requirements for low Size, Weight, and Power (SWAP) aiming at <10W power consumption

The project will be laboratory focused, working with lasers and optical systems and our extensive cleanroom and machining facilities. The PhD is funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), as part of the UK’s Quantum Technology programme. As such the student will also benefit from regular interaction and site visits with Dstl staff

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.

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.

Integrated optical elements for miniaturised atom traps 

Working as part of the UK Quantum technology hub in Sensors and Metrology led by Birmingham University, this project aims to build optical components for cold atom chips for miniaturised atom traps. Planar waveguide technology will be used to create miniature (1 inch cube size) traps that will find applications for magnetic and gravity sensing, as precision accelerometers and for network timing in future telecomm networks.

This project will involve development of glass on silicon waveguide components to couple light into magneto-optical traps. Working closely with partners in Southampton Physics Dept, Sussex University and Birmingham University the studentship will work on some of the most exciting challenges in miniaturisation of this important technology for real world applications.

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 machining of high finesse cavities for ion trap quantum computing

A primary goal of the NQIT programme is to create an optical network of quantum nodes containing error-corrected ion traps. The emission from the ions, i.e. Strontium, permits quantum entanglement between ions. With a sufficient array a network of entanglement can be generated to produce a quantum processor. A key challenge in the realisation of this system is the efficient collection of the light emitted by the ions. This PhD project will develop a stable, scalable platform for efficiently coupling the light from ion traps.

The current ion trap demonstrator uses a lens to collect as much light from the ion as possible. This results in poor collection efficiency, reducing the rate of entanglement and the clock speed of the quantum processor. Prior work has shown that this coupling can be greatly improved by placing an optical cavity around the ion. This enhancement also allows ion traps operation at weaker atomic transitions in the near-infrared. This move to longer wavelengths may ultimately be of great importance due to the much lower losses in the entanglement network. Work by the NQIT team, and others in the community, has highlighted the difficulty in aligning these optical cavities which requires sub-micron positional accuracy.  

The project will explore and develop techniques to assemble the Ion trap optical assemblies with exquisitely high positional tolerance. Both alignment of the optical components and the microwave trap components will be considered. The traps will also be designed to operate in high vacuum and to minimise misalignment during the baking processes needed in such vacuum systems. The new manufacturing techniques being developed in Southampton are also applicable for atom trap fabrication.

Photonic Quantum Computing

Manipulation of quantum states of light is an important, but difficult problem, especially on-chip.  Active devices are particularly important problems that can be addressed using technologies present in the Optical Engineering and Quantum Photonics Group, in collaboration with the UK’s leading researches in Bath, Oxford and Imperial College, London.


 

 

 

 

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