PhD-student: Quantum simulation with interacting photons in optical cavity arrays

Date posted February 12, 2020
Type PhD positions

This project is part of the ERC Starting grant “Strongly CORrelated Polaritons In Optoelectronic Nanostructures” (SCORPION).

In this project you will experimentally simulate phase transitions in magnetic materials using light confined in arrays of optical micro-cavities.  The long-term vision is to make a quantum simulator that can solve some of the hardest outstanding problems in optimization. These are problems that map to finding the ground state of 2D Ising models, and for which no efficient algorithm exists. 

You will perform optical experiments on arrays of coupled nonlinear micro-cavities simulating Ising models. You will drive these arrays across Ising-type phase transitions for photons by tuning the cavity length and the intensity of an incident laser. Near the transition point, the emission of photons from different cavities is expected to become strongly correlated. Your goal will be to measure these photon correlations with high spatial and temporal resolution using a streak camera.  You will search for signatures of quantum effects, and measure the speed at which information propagates, by analysing photon correlations.

You will perform experiments at 4 K using a state-of-the-art closed-cycle cryostat with extremely high mechanical stability. This unique setup will enable you to independently translate and rotate two mirrors with sub-nanometer precision, and perform free-space optical excitation and collection, all inside a closed-cycle cryostat. The tunability and versatility of the setup will allow you to explore physics which was previously inaccessible. 

You will be involved in all aspects of the design, realization, and analysis of experiments. Experimentally, you will collaborate with a Postdoc working on complementary aspects of strong light-matter coupling in similar systems. Theoretically, you will collaborate with leading groups working on aspects of quantum optics and condensed matter physics related to your experiments.

This project comes with a very significant investment on equipment. 
Therefore, you will have plenty of resources to achieve your goals.

About the group

In the Interacting Photons group we are interested in nonlinear and quantum behaviour of light and matter.  We focus on tunable systems where light and matter interact strongly. We have strong connections to other groups in the Netherlands, France, and UK. You will have extensive support from the group leader and the technical staff (software, mechanical, electrical) at AMOLF. You will have access to state-of-the-art optical laboratories and cleanrooms for nanofabrication and characterization.


You have a Masters in Physics or closely-related discipline. The ideal candidate has lab experience in optics/photonics.  Candidates with lab experience in other relevant areas will be considered. This project involves diverse collaborations across materials science, device physics, and quantum optics theory. Therefore, we are looking for a team-player with multidisciplinary interests and abilities. 

Terms of employment

The position is intended as full-time (40 hours / week, 12 months / year) appointment in the service of the Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes (NWO-I) for the duration of four years. The starting date is flexible within the first 10 months of 2020. After successful completion of the PhD research a PhD degree will be granted at a Dutch University. Several courses are offered, specially developed for PhD-students. AMOLF assists any new foreign PhD-student with housing and visa applications and compensates their transport costs and furnishing expenses.

Contact info

Dr. Said R. K. Rodriguez
Group leader Interacting Photons

Phone: +31 (0)20-754 7100

You can respond to this vacancy online via the button below.
Please annex your:
–  Resume;
–  Motivation on why you want to join the group (max. 1 page).
It is important to us to know why you want to join our team. This means that we will only consider your application if it entails your motivation letter.

Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis and as soon as an excellent match is made, the position will be filled.

Online screening may be part of the selection.

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