PhD scholarship in Ultra-coherent Quantum Optomechanics

Monday 12 Jul 21

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The Center for Macroscopic Quantum States (bigQ) at DTU Physics offers an excellent candidate a unique opportunity to pursue a PhD in the field of experimental quantum optomechanics as part of a new alliance with internationally leading research teams. Our ambition is to leap forward state-of-the-art in mechanical resonator design by exploiting the full potential of topology optimization for developing novel ultra-coherent mechanical devices. These will enable new fundamental tests of quantum mechanics at the macroscopic level and new technologies for quantum information processing technologies. In particular, the extreme degree of coherence strived for in this project, will make possible the hitherto elusive goal of operating and functionalizing mechanical oscillators in the quantum regime at room temperature. 

The project will be carried out as a collaborative effort between bigQ at DTU Physics and the research groups of Prof. Tobias Kippenberg at EPFL in Switzerland and Prof. Ole Sigmund at DTU Mechanical Engineering, holding world-leading expertise in optomechanics and topology optimization, respectively.

bigQ is a Danish national Center of Excellence in quantum information science and technology. The purpose of the center is to explore quantum physics in new macroscopic regimes, deepening our understanding of quantum physics, and speeding up the development of emerging quantum technologies. Our main focus is basic research, but we strongly encourage and support innovation and industry partnerships.

The center comprises around 45 people (with 17 nationalities) including Faculty members, PhD students, postdocs, engineers and an administrator.

The project
Quantum optomechanics is a fast-developing field which in recent years has contributed numerous new insights into the fundamentals of quantum physics. Also, it is one of the most promising candidate platforms for ultra-sensitive quantum sensors. However, significant advances are hindered by fast dissipation of the mechanical oscillators.

In this project, we will overcome the dissipation barrier by merging the fields of computational topological optimization, nanofabrication, and experimental optomechanics. In continuation of recent breakthroughs on strain-engineering at EPFL and density phononic engineering at DTU, topology optimization will be exploited for developing novel designs of both 1D and 2D mechanical structures with ultra-high coherence. Concretely, this will be done through two PhD projects, one based at DTU Physics and the other at EPFL, targeting 2D and 1D structures, respectively. The two projects will be carried out in close collaboration and will include exchange stays at the partnering institution. In each project, the goal will be pursued through 3 tasks: development of loss models as a basis for the topological optimization algorithm, fabrication and characterization of designed devices, and application of devices in optomechanical experiments targeting ground state cooling from room temperature. The student at DTU will have the lead on topology optimization and will run and implement the algorithm in close collaboration with Prof. Ole Sigmund’s group. The nanofabrication aspect of the project will be carried out in close collaboration with bigQ’s Research Process Scientist.

Who are we looking for?
We are looking for exceptional physicists and engineers with extraordinary talents and outstanding drives. We are in particular looking for people with academic excellence and/or with demonstrated scientific achievements. We also expect that you have an exceptional ability to conceive new ideas and construct well-working experimental setups. What matters the most is your internal drive to make significant and groundbreaking progress.

We expect the successful candidate to have a solid background in quantum mechanics, proficiency in numerical simulation, preferably finite element methods, and ideally also experience in cleanroom fabrication.

You must have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree.

What do we expect?

  • You are excited about large challenges, and you very much enjoy solving them.
  • You have an extraordinary drive towards achieving groundbreaking results.
  • You enjoy working in a team with an open minded spirit. You are excited to teach and learn from other group members.
  • You love to discuss physics and to participate in thoughtful conversations.
  • You make things work and deliver!

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

The work will take place at the DTU campus in Lyngby.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Professor Ulrik Andersen (Center Leader),

You can read more about us on and  

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark.  

Application procedure
Your complete online application must be submitted no later than 2 August 2021 (Danish time). Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)

You may apply prior to ob­tai­ning your master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

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DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 12,900 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. DTU has campuses in all parts of Denmark and in Greenland, and we collaborate with the best universities around the world.