Postgraduate research opportunities Quantum Photonic Integrated Circuits Operating at Cryogenic Temperatures


Key facts

  • Opens: Wednesday 1 December 2021
  • Deadline: Sunday 18 September 2022
  • Number of places: 1
  • Duration: 3.5 years
  • Funding: Home fee, Stipend


The student will design and characterise photonic integrated circuit technologies for quantum photonics applications at cryogenic temperatures. Novel forms of electronic control will be developed through hybrid materials integration and measurement results will feedback into a design optimisation process.
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To enter our PhD programme applicants require an upper-second or first class BSc Honours degree, or a Masters qualification of equal or higher standard, in Physics, Engineering or a related discipline. Full funding, covering fees and stipend, is available for applicants who are UK Nationals (meeting residency requirements) or have settled status (meeting residency requirements), pre-settled status or otherwise have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner
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Project Details

Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs) have developed rapidly over the last decade, enabling the miniaturisation of optical systems onto a single chip. Furthermore, the integration of electronics and photonics on a chip have underpinned advances in telecommunications, sensing, and recently, quantum information processing.  In quantum systems, photons can be used as a communications layer between solid-state quantum nodes or as qubits themselves. The compact size and mechanical stability of PICs make them an attractive option for the routing and processing of optical signals at significant scale.

One major challenge lies in the reconfigurability of these PICs. To allow for flexible and controllable circuits, a mechanism for tuning optical components is necessary. The most innovative current state of the art in the field for telecommunications applications uses PIN junction diodes or thermal heater elements to create absorption or refractive index changes in the waveguiding material. For quantum systems, neither of these methods are ideal, the former introduces noise photons to the circuit and the latter introducing thermal sources into the cryogenic conditions necessary for many of the single photon source and detector technologies employed.

In this project a new method for tuning PICs will be developed that is compatible with cryogenic and low power consumption operation. To achieve this a hybrid integration method will be used to integrate different optical materials together on a single chip. Second order non-linear response materials will be used to create refractive index changes by direct electronic control, compatible with operation in cryogenic environments. 

The student will carry out numerical simulations of devices to optimise the geometries and circuit layouts which will then be used for fabrication of PIC systems.  The student will be responsible for the measurement of the resultant PIC systems in state-of-the-art optical laboratories with access to classical and single photon sensitive measurement equipment. Measurement results will be used to feedback into optimisation of the fabrication process with final circuit designs being used to implement quantum information processing experiments. The student will be part of a larger research group with the opportunity to work with others in a collegiate and enthusiastic team. Research findings will be published in high impact journals with the opportunity to present at an international conference. 

Institute of Photonics

The Institute of Photonics (IoP), part of the Department of Physics, is a centre of excellence in applications-oriented research at the University of Strathclyde.  The Institute’s key objective is to bridge the gap between academic research and industrial applications and development in the area of photonics. The IoP is located in the £100M Technology and Innovation Centre on Strathclyde’s Glasgow city centre campus, at the heart of Glasgow’s Innovation District, where it is co-located with the UK’s first Fraunhofer Research Centre. Researchers at the IoP are active in a broad range of photonics fields under the areas of Photonic Devices, Advanced Lasers and Neurophotonics, please see our research. Strathclyde Physics is a member of SUPA, the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance.

The University of Strathclyde has, in recent years, been the recipient of the following awards:

  • The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in the field of Advanced Manufacturing (2021)
  • Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 Scottish University of the Year, The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education 2020 (and 2019)
  • The Times Higher Education UK University of the Year 2019/2020 (and 2012/2013)
  • The Times Higher Education Widening Participation Initiative of the Year 2019
  • UK Entrepreneurial University of the Year 2013/2014
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Funding details

The funding covers the full stipend and tuition fees at the home rate (not the international rate). To be classed as a home student, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • be a UK national (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have settled status, or
  • have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have indefinite leave to remain or enter
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Professor Michael Strain

Institute of Photonics

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Dr Lucia Caspani

Senior Lecturer
Institute of Photonics

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Applicants should send an up-to-date CV to in the first instance

Number of places: 1

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