Integrated Atom Chip Group, University of Southampton

Integrated Atom Chip Group

Job and PhD Opportunities

Job opportunities

PhD Studentships

Anyone applying for a PhD position at Southampton should have (or expect to be awarded):

  • An upper second class Batchelor's degree (or above) from a UK university in a relavant subject, or
  • A lower second class Batchelor's degree together with a Master's degree from a UK university in a relevant subject, or
  • An equivalent overseas qualification

Fully funded studentships are available via the Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology. Students enrolling on these positions will need to spend their first year undertaking an MRes in Translational Quantum Technology in Birmingham. If interested please get in contact with Matt Himsworth ( and visit: for information on the year in Birmingham.  

Additional Studentships at Southampton may also be available. 

Projects include:

Micro-fabricated vapour cells for integrated quantum technology.

A large number of quantum technologies are based on high resolution spectroscopy of thermal alkali vapour. These include atomic clocks, laser cooling, quantum memories and magnetometers, which have numerous application from high speed financial trading and communications, to medical scanning and navigation. These technologies are closest to real life applications but are hampered by the bulky and fragile glass cells currently available. There is a growing need for millimetre-scale, mass producible cells which a variety of dimensions, coatings, buffer gases and atomic species. As part of the UK Quantum technology hub for Sensors and Metrology, the University of Southampton is leading research into the first passive ultra-high vacuum cells required for miniaturized cold atom technology. We have already demonstrated hermetic sealing of rubidium vapour cells and this studentship will develop the cell technology to produce highly specialized devices for a number of collaborative partners. The project will involve experimental research into semiconductor microfabrication and characterization techniques, diode laser spectroscopy and laser cooling. Specifically the project will involve: the development of very deep etching of silicon wafers, advanced semiconductor bonding of multilayer chips and hermetic sealing, functional thin film deposition, high temperature anti-relaxation coatings, and high resolution laser spectroscopy (EIT).

Integrated planar optical systems and micro magneto optical traps.

The magneto optical trap is the workhorse and fundamental enabling technology to entire the ultra-cold physics regime in which quantum effects dominate. This system uses finely tuned laser to scatter momentum, and thus slow, vapour phase atoms and confine them with magnetic field gradients, all within an ultrahigh vacuum chamber. The trapped atoms can be used for atomic timekeeping, quantum information processing, inertial sensing, as well as fundamental physics experiments. For many of the practical applications the device must be portable and robust enough to survive in non-laboratory environments. Other important commercial factors include low weight, small size, low power, plug’n’play operation and the translation to mass production. This project, in collaboration with the Opto-electronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton aims to develop and integrate the two major hurdles prohibiting cold atoms leaving the laboratory. These include:

  • Pioneering miniature glass-silicon ultrahigh vacuum cells with maintain vacuum passively together with ultralow power magnetic field coils and novel atom sources. 
  • Planar micro-fabricated optical systems for generating tailored laser beams and detection systems, all within a single optical-fiber coupled substrates

The project will involve developing and testing laser cooling techniques, semiconductor and glass microfabrication and characterization, optoelectronics and electronic/computer control systems. 

High dynamic range cold atom quantum sensors. 

Atoms cooled to a millionth of a degree above absolutely zero exhibit some of the purest quantum effects measurable. This had placed them at the forefront of metrology and fundamental physics. The recent focus for this field has turned toward practical applications beyond the laboratory and cold atom systems are highly promising candidates for future inertial navigations systems - measuring linear acceleration and rotation, together with highly accurate atomic clock timing. Extensions of these techniques may also be used for gravity field mapping which can be used for mineral exploration and underground surveying. Portable devices may be used in environments far more noisy and disruptive than highly controlled and stable laboratory settings. Therefore the cold atom sources must become rugged, compact and resilient to perturbations. Standard cooling of cold atoms is a slow process and results in lost data between shots or loss of atoms to the chamber walls before they can be measured, due to the typical vibrational noise and accelerations experienced on mobile platforms such as cars or planes. This project aims to look at developing a high speed cold atoms source based on recapturing pre-cooled atoms which can increase data rates by over an order of magnitude thus making them more resilient to dynamic environments. The project will involve the construction of a multi-trap system, focused on portability and low power operation. The student will explore suitable operating regimes for fast atom interferometer to sense rotation and acceleration.   

The project will involve developing and testing laser cooling techniques, multi-photon Raman spectroscopy, ultrahigh vacuum systems, monte-carlo simulations, optoelectronics and electronic/computer control systems.


Integrated Atom Chip Group, Room 3009, Building 46, University of Southampton, University Road, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK
Tel: +44 (0)23 80599343 | Fax: +44 (0)23 8059 2048