PhD on solitons in microresonator based optical frequency combs (2020)

Due to restrictions imposed by the funder, this award is available to UK & EU students only.

Type of award

Postgraduate Research

PhD project

One of the most exciting recent development in physics has been the application of cutting-edge science to a generation of new quantum technology and the Sussex Centre for Quantum Technologies is one of the world’s leading centres for research in this area.

Miniaturised atomic clocks in a portable format are expected to change the way we access to timing, positioning and navigation. They are a fundamental building block for the new generation of quantum sensors and could play a key role in making our society resilient to GPS spoofing and jamming. (  )

As every clock, a portable optical atomic clock is composed of two fundamental components [1]: a reference (an ultraprecise atomic oscillator) and a counter (an optical frequency comb, a special laser developed by the Nobel prizes John Hall and Theodor Hänsch[2]). The Sussex Centre for Quantum Technologies is exceptionally well placed in this area, with two groups working on the very different physics necessary to the miniaturisation of those parts: a portable ion trapped calcium reference (Ion group Matthias Keller) and an optical microcomb (EPIC group, Alessia Pasquazi)

Microcombs are special pulsed lasers based on millimetre size optical resonators. Firstly discovered in 2007[3], they have galvanised the attention of photonic scientists with the promise to realise the full potential of frequency combs in a compact form. To meet the demand of practical atomic clocks, microcombs needs, however, to become an efficient, robust and reliable technology.

This theoretical/experimental PhD project will focus on developing an optical clock based on a new type of nonlinear optical wave, called temporal laser cavity soliton, recently discovered in the EPic laboratory at the University of Sussex ( ) [4] for ultra-efficient microcombs. You will work in the team of Dr Alessia Pasquazi, funded by her recent ERC starting grant ‘Temporal laser cavity solitons microcombs’ (

The successful applicant will join a team within the Sussex Centre for Quantum Technologies ( During the PhD, the student will receive both academic and transferable skills training at Sussex and through our membership of the South East Physics Network ( as well as project-specific skills through project supervision. 

[1] W. F. McGrew,  et al., Nature 564, 87–90 (2018)

[2] N. R. Newbury, Nature Photonics  5, 186–188(2011)

[3] P. Del’Haye, Nature 450, 1214-7 (2007)

[4] H.Bao et al., Nature Photonics  13, 384–389(2019)


PhD Studentship for 3.5 years, with a bursary starting at £15,285 and a tuition fee waiver.


You must have a high Honours degree (2.1 or above), and preferably a Masters in Physics; or a closely related subject. Due to restrictions imposed by the funder, this award is available to UK & EU students only.

Number of scholarships available



1 August 2020 10:00 (GMT)

How to apply

Apply online through the Sussex website at the following link:



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Application enquiries:


At level(s):
PG (research)

Application deadline:
1 August 2020 10:00 (GMT)
the deadline has now expired


The award is available to people from these specific countries: