Development of a Quantum Microwave Sensor for the Neutrino Mass Measurement (2023)

PhD studentship in the Geonium Chip group, part of the Sussex Centre for Quantum Technologies.

What you get

  • Fully-paid tuition fees for three and a half years, eventually extendable to four years.
  • A tax-free bursary for living costs for three and a half years. From October 22/23 this amounts to £17,668 per year.
  • A support grant for three and a half years of £1,250 per year for travel and attending conferences.

Type of award

Postgraduate Research

PhD project

The Sussex Centre for Quantum Technologies is focused on fundamental quantum science and on the development of novel quantum technologies. It hosts several experimental and theoretical groups that cover an extensive research area, such as microwave quantum sensors, quantum computation and communications with trapped ions, theoretical quantum optics, quantum metrology, ultra-cold atoms in atom chips, and others. Sussex offers a unique environment for highly motivated PhD candidates, providing advanced training in a wide variety of experimental and theoretical skills.

About the project:

This PhD project centres on the development of a Quantum Microwave Sensor for fundamental Physics applications, explicitly for the planned future measurement of the neutrino mass. The neutrino mass is the last of the fundamental constants of the standard model which has not yet been measured. Neutrino flavour oscillations and cosmology observations set an ultimate boundary at , or  in the case of “inverted” or “normal” ordering of the neutrino mass hierarchy, respectively. A novel approach for measuring  has recently been proposed: the so-called Cyclotron Resonance Spectroscopy (CRES) technique. This can deliver the neutrino mass by measuring the microwave radiation emitted by the electrons resulting from tritium beta-decay. To achieve the needed accuracy of , the CRES technique requires an ultra-accurate microwave sensor, which should be capable of detecting tiny signals of a few tens of microwave photons. At Sussex we are developing such a quantum microwave sensor using our novel “geonium chip” ion trap. This will use a trapped electron (so-called “geonium atom”) as the quantum microwave sensor. The geonium atom is capable of measuring the ultimate limit of single microwave photons and will allow for the CRES technique to reach its full potential. Further applications of our quantum microwave sensor are Quantum Radar, Microwave Microscopy, and Quantum Microwave Imaging.

Skills and training:

The PhD candidate will work with an existing experimental cryogenic ion trap setup at the University of Sussex, The successful candidate will receive training in ion trap technology, magnetic fields design with superconductors, cryogenics, RF electronics, microwave engineering, and quantum optics. There will also be opportunities to present work at international conferences, as the project involves international collaboration with world-class groups in fundamental physics and quantum technology, as well as private companies. 

An important part of this PhD project is the skills development and training. Local training through lecture courses, transferable skills training modules and practical training in the laboratory will be complemented by training events offered through SEPNet. These include workshops, training schools and networking opportunities.


Applicants must hold, or expect to hold, at least a UK upper second class degree (or non-UK equivalent qualification) in Physics, or a closely-related area, or else a lower second class degree followed by a relevant Master's degree.

If you are not a UK national, nor a EU national with UK settled/pre-settled status, you will need to apply for a student study visa before admission.

This award is open to UK and International students.


31 October 2023 23:45

How to apply

Apply through the University of Sussex on-line system.

Select the PhD in Physics, with an entry date of September 2023.

In the Finance & Fees section, state that you wish to be considered for studentship no MPS/2023/01.

We advise early application as the position will be filled as soon as a suitable applicant can be found.


Contact us

If you have practical questions about the progress of your on-line application or your eligibility, please contact

For academic questions about the project, please contact Dr Jose L. Verdu at  


Position will remain open until a suitable candidate is found. 


At level(s):
PG (research)

Application deadline:
31 October 2023 23:45 (GMT)


The award is available to people from these specific countries: