PhD Studentship: High Resolution Spectroscopy of Molecular Ions

University of Sussex - Department of Physics & Astronomy

Project
A PhD position is available in the Ion Trap Cavity-QED and Molecular Physics (ITCM) Group in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Sussex as part of an interdisciplinary collaboration with the research of Prof Tim Softley (University of Birmingham) and Dr Brianna Heazlewood (University of Oxford).

The laws of physics are governed by a set of fundamental constants which determine the structure of the universe from sub-atomic particles to large galaxy clusters. Many theories which aim to unify all fundamental forces and cosmological models predict that fundamental constants change in time. Two particularly interesting constants are the fine structure constant and the proton-to-electron mass ratio, both of which influence the internal structure of atoms and molecules. At Sussex, we have set up an experiment which aims to measure how the proton-to-electron mass ratio changes with time to a higher accuracy than currently possible by employing high resolution spectroscopy of molecular ions.

Single molecular ions are confined in time-varying electric fields (rf ion trap), and further localised via a co-trapped atomic ion that is laser cooled. By using quantum logic spectroscopy the quantum state of the molecule can be transferred to the atomic ion, due to the joint motion between the two ions within the trapping potential. In this way the ion’s state is measured without destroying it, which is problematic to achieve without the state transfer between the ions. Utilizing this scheme the spectrum of the molecular ion can be measured very accurately and compared to an existing optical atomic clock via an optical frequency comb. Repeating this measurement over time, changes in the proton-to-electron mass ratio show as a change in the relative transition frequency of the atomic and molecular transitions.

The PhD project will also include the investigation of multi-photoionisation of various molecular species for quantum state preparation. Further to this will be the implementation of destructive and non-destructive molecular state detection and the development and implementation of sophisticated techniques to manipulate the internal molecular state.

 Award: £14,296 per annum tax-free bursary and waiver of UK/EU fees each year for 3.5 years.The award includes an additional training grant of £1250 p.a. for short courses, books, travel, conferences etc.

Eligibility: Applicants must hold, or expect to hold, a UK Bachelor degree in Physics at first or upper second class, and/or a UK Master's degree in Physics, or equivalent non-UK qualifications. A good standard of written and spoken English is essential.
The costs covered are for UK/ EU student fees of £4121 p.a. Overseas (ex-EU) students can apply but must have a plan for raising the additional sums required for the higher fees of £18300 p.a

Application: Apply through the Sussex on-line system, http://www.sussex.ac.uk/study/pg/applying. State in the Funding Information section of the application form that you would like to apply for this studentship.

Timetable: Early application is advised. The very latest we can accept an application is 31st August 2017, but the position is likely to be filled before this date.
Start date at Sussex: September 2017
First payment: 1st October 2017

Contact: Informal enquiries should be sent to Dr Matthias Keller (m.k.keller@sussex.ac.uk).
Enquiries about your eligibility, the progress of your application and admission to Sussex, should be sent to Rebecca Foster: rebecca.foster@sussex.ac.uk .

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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

South East England