Postgraduate research opportunities

Probing Quantum States With Silicon Carbide Nanoelectronics

This project focuses on the realisation of quantum phenomena in commercially-compatible electronic devices, such as transistors and diodes in silicon carbide. The main goal is to couple electron spins to electromagnetic radiation, in order to manipulate and read quantum states.

Number of places



Home fee, Stipend


26 June 2019



BSc (Hons) 2:1 or equivalent degree in physics/engineering


  • Research Council (RC) fees and stipend can only be awarded to UK and EU students and not to EEA or International students.
  • EU students are only eligible for RC stipend if they have been resident in the UK for 3 years, including for study purposes, immediately prior to starting their PhD.
  • If an EU student cannot fulfil this condition then they are eligible for a fees only studentship.
  • International students cannot be funded from RC funds unless they are ‘settled’ in the UK. ‘Settled’ means being ordinarily resident in the UK without any immigration restrictions on the length of stay in the UK. To be ‘settled’ a student must either have the Right to Abode or Indefinite leave to remain in the UK or have the right of permanent residence in the UK under EC law. If the student’s passport describes them as a British citizen they have the Right of Abode.
  • Students with full Refugee status are eligible for fees and stipend.

Project Details


Unbreakable cryptography, teleportation of information and ultra-fast computing will soon cease to be figments of science fiction literature. These are now considered imminent realities enabled by the upbringing of quantum technologies [1]. Devices that exploit the laws of quantum physics are developing quickly and many materials are presently under scrutiny to build the future quantum hardware [2-3].

This project will investigate quantum effects in silicon carbide (SiC), a wide-bandgap compound semiconductor made of silicon and carbon. On the one hand, SiC benefits from mature manufacturing techniques, being it extensively used for power electronics. On the other hand, exquisite quantum effects, such as coherent electron spin superposition and single-photon generation, have been demonstrated in this material, by exploiting the properties of atomic defects in its crystal [4-5]. However, most of these experiments have been so far performed in plain unprocessed wafers by means of optical scanning techniques. The crucial step that this PhD project will address is the realisation and control of quantum phenomena in nanometre scale electronic devices, such as transistors and diodes.

The research activities will balance device design and modelling, hands-on cleanroom fabrication, as well as electrical and optical experimental measurements with cryogenic set-ups. The student will be involved in making and characterising devices that span from metal-oxide-semiconductor nano-capacitors to superconductive microwave resonators and LEDs, in order to couple electron spins to electromagnetic radiation.

This project is suitable for individuals who have a keen interest for applied research and are eager to get industrial exposure through our corporate partners at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and Hitachi Europe.

[1] The European Quantum Flagship

[2] T.D. Ladd et al. Nature 464, 45 (2010)

[3] D.D. Awschalom et al. Science 339, 1174 (2013)

[4] A. Lohrmann et al. Rep. Prog. Phys. 80, 034502 (2017)

[5] M. Atature et al. Nature Reviews Materials 3, 38 (2018)


  • Design and fabricate nanodevices in a cleanroom environment. 
    • Perform low-temperature experiments and device characterisation. 
    • Analyse experimental data with appropriate software (e.g. Matlab, Python etc.).  
    • Prepare manuscripts for submission to peer-reviewed journals. 
    • Travel domestically across collaborating institutions to carry out part of the project’s activitiesH


This project is part of a long-standing collaboration between the Quantum Technology Department at the National Physical Laboratory (Teddington) and the Physics Department at the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow). The student is expected to carry out most of the research activities at NPL. However, short stays at Strathclyde and other partner institutions may be needed throughout the project’s lifespan. Funding for travel expenses is available.

The successful candidate will be part of a cohort of highly selected students at the Postgraduate Institute for Measurement Science, a multi-disciplinary national centre for research training and skills development in metrology and its applications.

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