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NPL Co-funded Studentship

Applications are now open for an industrially co-funded studentship in Superconducting Quantum Circuits in partnership with the UK National Physical Laboratory (NPL).

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UCL’s Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Delivering Quantum Technologies is pleased to announce a co-funded PhD studentship in Superconducting Quantum Circuits in partnership with the UK National Physical Laboratory (NPL).

This is a special type of studentship on our CDT programme which provides:

  • Advanced Project Choice The area of PhD research is agreed with the student on admission.
  • Fully funded four-year studentships including fees, stipend and a generous training and research support package.
  • UCL EPSRC PhD stipend (currently £17,983 per year) plus an Enhanced Stipend of £2,400 per year (subject to agreement of a contract between NPL and UCL).
  • Innovative MRes in Quantum Technologies in first year of programme.
  • PhD, in years 2-4, in collaboration with a world-class commercial partner.
  • Start date: 26th September 2022.

How to Apply

Application Deadline: 13th June 2022, 17:00 UK time.

Applicants should have a strong academic track record (to Masters/MSci/MEng level) in Physics, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science or a related discipline, and a willingness to pursue an experimental research programme.

Project Description

Supervisors: Dr Edward Romans (UCL), Professor Ling Hao (NPL)

Research Area: Electric Field Tuneable Superconducting Quantum Circuits

The studentship will involve an experimental PhD project in the area of superconducting quantum circuits, offering the successful applicant experience of quantum device design and modelling, cleanroom-based nano-fabrication, and rf/dc device measurement at ultra-low temperatures. During the research phases of the studentship, the student would be expected to divide their time between UCL’s main campus in central London and NPL’s site in Teddington. The student will benefit from access to state-of-the-art cleanroom facilities at UCL, and extensive quantum device test and evaluation facilities at NPL.

The project will build upon a recent UCL-NPL collaboration where we developed a wafer-scalable technology based on CVD graphene to fabricate high quality, nanoscale superconductor-graphene-superconductor (SGS) Josephson junctions and superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs) [1][2]. Unlike conventional Josephson junctions which can only have their critical current tuned by a magnetic field, graphene-based junctions can be tuned/modulated by an electric field applied using a gate voltage from a back gate, or by implementing local gates on individual junctions.

Superconducting technology based on Josephson junctions is perhaps the most advanced solid-state platform for implementing complex quantum devices. Being able to tune individual junction critical currents is very important in many such devices including superconducting qubits, superconducting quantum sensors, and a range of superconducting quantum-limited amplifiers. A junction or a SQUID can be embedded in a superconducting rf resonator structure and used as a non-linear inductor where the circuit’s resonant frequency is tuned by an applied dc current or a magnetic flux bias. However, issues such as the need for separate flux control lines and magnetic cross-talk greatly complicate the on-chip implementation of more complex circuits requiring larger numbers of precisely tuneable junctions.  In contrast, electric field tuneable and scalable SGS junctions are ideally suited for applications involving multiple Josephson junctions since the junctions can be more easily tuned by local electric gates – see further examples of this in refs [3] and [4].

[1] Li et al. Supercond. Sci. Technol. 31 (2018)
[2] Li et al. IEEE Trans. Appl. Supercond. 29(5), 1101004 (2019)
[3] Kroll et al. Nat Commun 9, 4615 (2018)
[4] Schmidt et al. Nat Commun 9, 4069 (2018)

In the MRes year (year one of the project) the student would mainly take taught masters courses at UCL covering a range of key quantum technology topics with the other students on the CDT programme. In the summer months the student would undertake a standalone MRes project at UCL/NPL relating to the proposed PhD project. This could involve simulation and/or experiment.

During the student-defined PhD phase (years two to four of the project) the student will build upon our existing work to develop, demonstrate and characterise a range of suitable superconducting quantum circuits that exploit the electrical field tunability of SGS junctions. In the early stages the student would become experienced in the necessary cleanroom/nanofabrication techniques at UCL and microwave/cryogenic measurement techniques at NPL. The student would work closely with research staff and other PhD students at both institutions. In the later stages it is envisaged that the student would develop applications in one or more areas of quantum metrology, including possibly single spin detection or quantum-limited readout of various types of signals, especially certain fundamental physics experiments.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between this studentship and regular studentships on the CDT?

In a regular CDT studentship, students select their research area for their PhD mid-way through the MRes year. With this special studentship the project area is agreed with the sponsor at admission. Students with industrially co-funded projects in our CDT receive a stipend enhancement of £2,400 p.a. above the standard UCL EPSRC PhD stipend rate (£17,983 for 2022-23), subject to a contract being agreed between NPL and UCL. Apart from these two differences, the student experience is the same as all other studentships on the CDT.

About NPL

The National Physical Laboratory, based in Teddington, is the UK's National Metrology Institute, developing and maintaining the national primary measurement standards. It is a Public Corporation owned by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). NPL is part of the National Measurement System (NMS) which provides the UK with a national measurement infrastructure and delivers the UK Measurement Strategy on behalf of BEIS. NPL has a rich heritage in exploring, developing and applying quantum science. Its work in this area underpins the redefinition of the worldwide system of measurement units and enables the translation of quantum technologies and materials into practical applications. For more information visit the NPL Quantum Technologies website.