Doctoral candidates (f/m/d) in Gravitational Quantum Physics
Doctoral candidates in Gravitational Quantum Physics
Aalto University is a community of bold thinkers where science and art meet technology and business. We are committed to identifying and solving grand societal challenges and building an innovative future. Aalto has six schools with nearly 11 000 students and a staff of more than 4000, of which 400 are professors. Our main campus is located in Espoo, Finland. Diversity is part of who we are, and we actively work to ensure our community’s diversity and inclusiveness in the future as well. This is why we warmly encourage qualified candidates from all backgrounds to join our community.
to carry out experimental research on the recently funded ERC Advanced Grant project GUANTUM - Probing the limits of quantum mechanics and gravity with micromechanical oscillators. The goal of the project is nothing less than solving a hundred-year-old mystery of physics: Despite its success at describing phenomena in the low-energy limit, quantum mechanics is incompatible with general relativity that describes gravity and huge energies. The interface between these two has remained experimentally elusive, because only the most violent events in the universe have been considered to produce measurable effects due to the plausible quantum behavior of gravity. In this project, we aim at detecting gravitational forces for the first time within a quantum system. Instead of huge energies, we are interested in extremely low energies. We use mechanical oscillators loaded by milligram masses, and bring two such gravitationally interacting oscillators into nonclassical motional states such as squeezed or entangled quantum states. Initially, we measure the gravitational force between gold particles weighing a milligram, representing a new mass scale showing gravitational forces within a system.
Your role and goals
Doctoral candidate #2 will work on the development, cleanroom microfabrication, and measurement of “quantum gravitational” devices, where the core element is an oscillating silicon nitride membrane that is loaded by a small mass. At very low temperatures achievable in dilution refrigerators, the oscillator becomes nearly isolated from energy losses to the environment, and it can further be brought quantum with microwave optomechanics. You will accommodate these devices into a quantum-limited detection system comprising of parametric amplifiers and real-time feedback to verify the gravitational forces inside the system.
Doctoral candidate #2 will be working on engineering aspects of the research: development of the cryogenic system including vibration isolation, cryogenic nanopositioning, optical imaging, and perfecting the microwave measurements.
Depending on the qualifications and interest of the candidates, the roles may be strongly overlapping. At the beginning, the candidates will work together with other group members. Over time, the candidates are expected to gain responsibility of their projects.
Your experience and ambitions
For this challenging research, we are looking for brilliant and energetic individuals who are motivated in experimental, low-temperature quantum physics. We require MSc degree with excellent study records in physics or electrical engineering. Additionally, the candidates should be excellent team players. Experience with hands-on research, or skill in theoretical understanding of the studied phenomena, are considered significant assets.
What we offer
The Quantum Nanomechanics team, ambitous but relaxed with a great team spirit, carries out top-notch experimental research on the foundations of quantum mechanics. In our recent research, we have demonstrated quantum entanglement between two micromechanical resonators [Nature 556, 478 (2018), Science 372, 625 (2021)]. With superconducting qubits, we explore processing of quantum information with mechanical motion.
In our more applied research, we lay the foundation for a new generation of devices that use various types of microwave-optomechanical effects for efficient signal processing. We have realized quantum-limited microwave amplifiers and nonreciprocal components to be used in superconducting quantum technology. Besides electromechanics, we are investigating hybrid devices that aim on controlling ferromagnetic magnons using acoustic waves.
The position is initially filled for 2 years, and following a successful midterm progress review, the contract is continued for another 2 years after which the PhD dissertation is expected to be completed. Aalto University follows the salary system of Finnish universities. The starting salary is approx. 2600€/month, and it will increase with responsibilities and performance over time. The contract includes Aalto University occupational healthcare.
The workplace will be the Otaniemi Campus of Aalto University, in the premises of the OtaNano national research infrastructure for micro- and nanotechnologies. OtaNano provides access to all the advanced nanofabrication, nanomicroscopy and measurement facilities and techniques. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland on campus leverages the bridge between research and innovation. Several startup companies working with electronics, cryogenics, and quantum technology have recently emerged in the community. Our team belongs to the national Centre of Excellence – Quantum Technology Finland that is harnessing quantum phenomena for solid-state-based quantum devices and applications. We also belong to the European Microkelvin Platform collaboration.