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PhD Studentship: Inertial Navigation using Atom Matterwave Interferometry

University of Southampton

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Southampton
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £15,009
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 28th May 2019
Closes: 31st August 2019

Supervisor:  Tim Freegarde

Project description

Long-range navigation can be difficult if GPS is not available (underground and underwater) or denied by jamming or spoofing. Inertial navigation can be effective for many hours, after which conventional systems tend to lose their sense of direction. Cold atom rotation sensors (‘gyros’), which use the quantum technology of matterwave interference, have shown exquisite performance in laboratory demonstrations, and prototypes are being developed for navigation applications.

This project, supported by Thales R&T UK and within Southampton’s Quantum Control group, will explore the navigational performance possible using cold atom inertial sensors, by combining characterization of the quantum device operation, data on environmental variations, and analysis of integration within an inertial navigation system. This cross-disciplinary project will thus span aspects from fundamental quantum physics to practical system design and performance. It will suit physics graduates with an interest in navigation applications, and systems engineers interested in exploiting an emerging range of quantum technologies.

The student will work with quantum physics experimentalists to characterize and understand the limiting factors of atom interferometric sensors, and with navigation experts to determine the consequences for navigational performance. The project may involve spending some time with colleagues at the Laboratoire Photonique, Numérique et Nanosciences in Bordeaux.

The 4-year studentship provides full funding, including an annual tax-free stipend of around £15,009. Students must have a relevant connection with the UK – usually established by residence – and have, or be about to obtain, a first or upper-second class degree in Physics, Engineering or a related discipline.

For informal enquiries, contact Dr Tim Freegarde, telephone +44 (0)23 8059 2347,, or visit

Key facts

Entry requirements: first or upper second-class 4-year degree or Master degree in Physics, chemistry, materials or biology.

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 August 2019 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Duration: four years (full-time)

Funding: full tuition fees, for UK/EU students, and a tax-free stipend of £15,009 per year

Assessment: Nine month and 18 month reports, viva voce and thesis examination

Start date: typically September

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