Research Associate in in quantum clocks and atom interferometers

Imperial College London

Job description
Job summary

The High Energy Physics Group at Imperial College London invites applications for a Research Associate to generate groundbreaking research in the field of quantum sensing using cold strontium atoms. This research will primarily involve innovative approaches such as spin-squeezing and continuous laser cooling. You will have the opportunity to work at the newly established Strontium Laboratory at Imperial College London, playing a pivotal role in two important collaborations: the Atom Interferometer Observatory and Network (AION) and the Ultra-precise Shock-resistant Optical Clocks (USOC) project.

Duties and responsibilities

The AION project (website , paper ), led by Imperial College, aims to use atom interferometry to study dark matter and gravitational waves. The initial phase of AION is focused on building a 10m prototype instrument at the University of Oxford, while planning for a facility at the 100 m – 1 km scale for new physics discovery. In the Imperial AION lab, you will help to complete a small-scale demonstrator for cavity-based squeezing of strontium atoms, with the future goal of dramatically reducing atom shot noise in the AION detector.

For the USOC project you will help to develop a continuous ultracold-strontium source for ultra-precise optical clocks (and, potentially, atom interferometers). You will use novel metastable laser-cooling techniques to feed a steady pipeline of cold atoms into the atomic clock, removing the usual aliasing limitations imposed by pulsed clock interrogation. This will enhance the precision of the clock and will reduce its sensitivity to vibrations, potentially allowing deployment outside the lab.

By combining the capabilities of the AION and USOC projects, we aim to create advanced atomic clocks and atom interferometers that surpass previous levels of precision, even going beyond the Standard Quantum Limit. As per your experience and interests, you will have the opportunity to foster new research proposals within this field. Additionally, you can explore related areas such as neutral-atom quantum computing or quantum simulation.

The successful applicant will be expected to collaborate closely with a wide and interdisciplinary group of people. Within Imperial College, you will work in both the High Energy Physics and Quantum Optics and Laser Science groups, working in a team of postgraduate students, other research associates and academics. Externally, you will work closely with the AION collaboration, including the University of Birmingham, University of Cambridge, Imperial College London (lead), Kings College London, University of Liverpool, University of Oxford, and the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. In addition, AION is partnered with the MAGIS collaboration in the USA, including Stanford, Northwestern, Fermilab and others. Finally, the USOC project will require close collaboration between Imperial College London (lead) and the National Physical Laboratory

Essential requirements

You will hold or be about to obtain a PhD in Experimental Particle Physics or have an equivalent level of professional qualifications and experience.*

You must have the following essential criteria

  • A strong background in experimental atomic, molecular and optical physics
  • Technical knowledge of CW laser systems and the control of laser light
  • Experience in leadership or evidence of future leadership potential
  • A strong research record with clearly-defined individual contributions
  • Experience in taking initiative and/or developing own ideas independently

In addition, it would be desirable if you had:

  • Experience working with cold atoms or molecules
  • Experience in simulation of experiments
  • A strong background in data analysis methods
  • A strong background in the construction of new apparatus
  • Experience using cold atoms for precision measurement (e.g. interferometry/clocks) or in cavity QED systems
  • Experience with ultra-high vacuum systems and mechanical design
  • Experience with analog electronics, RF electronics, and control loops
  • Experience with laser frequency stabilisation
  • Experience with data acquisition hardware and software
  • Experience of working in the environment of a large international science collaboration

Further information

This is a full time postion for two years in the first instance with the possibility of extension dependent on future funding.

*Candidates who have completed but not yet been officially awarded their PhD will be appointed as a Research Assistant within the salary range £38,194 – £41,388 per annum.

The High Energy Physics Group’s strategy for leadership in designing, constructing, and exploiting scientifically the leading experiments in particle physics sustains our high international profile. The Group has a strong ongoing experimental programme encompassing the T2K, Super-Kamiokande and future Hyper-Kamiokande experiments in Japan; the future neutrino oscillation experiment DUNE at Fermilab and SURF in the USA; the search for sterile neutrinos with SoLid in Belgium; the search for charged lepton flavour violation with COMET in Japan; the CMS and LHCb experiments at the LHC; the search for dark matter with the LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) experiment in the USA and the future XLZD experiment; the MICE experiment in the UK; the Atom Interferometer Observatory and Network (AION) project in the UK and the USA; SHiP and SuperNEMO activities and the development of future experiments and impact through the application of HEP technologies. There are also significant accelerator, phenomenology and Grid computing programmes. The Group is the host of two Imperial College Centres of Excellence: Centre for Clinical Application of Particles and Centre for High-Throughout Digital Electronics and Machine Learning .

More information about the Department of Physics and the High Energy Physics Group can be found on our webpages.

The Department of Physics is an IoP JUNO Practitioner and an Athena Silver SWAN Award winner reflecting our commitment to building a supportive, inclusive and highly motivated community.  See our EDI webpage for more Information. We strongly encourage applications from all backgrounds, especially those historically underrepresented in Physics.

Further details about the position are available from Dr Charles Baynham ([email protected] ) and Dr Richard Hobson ([email protected] )

Should you have any queries about the application process please contact Paula Brown, Section Administrator, ([email protected] )

The College is a proud signatory to the San-Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA),which means that in hiring and promotion decisions, we evaluate applicants on the quality of their work, not the journal impact factor where it is published. For more information, see

Imperial College is committed to equality of opportunity, to eliminating discrimination and to creating an inclusive working environment. We are an Athena SWAN Silver award winner, a Stonewall Diversity Champion, a Disability Confident Employer and work in partnership with GIRES to promote respect for trans people.


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