Research Associate in Solid-State Quantum Photonics

Riccarton, Edinburgh
£32,817 - £40,322 depending on experience
04 Nov 2021
30 Nov 2021

Salary £32,817 - £40,322 depending on experience

Contract: 24 month contract

The School of Engineering & Physical Sciences has an international research reputation and close connection with the professional and industrial world of science, engineering and technology. Our research ranges from fundamental sciences through to engineering applications, all of which are supported by strong external funding. We have around 150 full-time academic staff who drive this research activity and are based in 5 research institutes: the Institute of Chemical Sciences, the Institute of Photonics & Quantum Sciences, the Institute of Mechanical, Process & Energy Engineering, the Institute of Sensors, Signals & Systems and the Institute of Biological Chemistry, BioPhysics & BioEngineering. REF2014 named Heriot-Watt in the top 25% of UK universities, with 82% of our research ranked as world-leading or internationally excellent. Heriot-Watt ranked 9th university in the UK and 1st in Scotland for research impact.

The School of Engineering & Physical Sciences has received the Bronze Award from the Athena SWAN Charter recognising excellence in championing employment of women in the fields of science and technology, engineering and mathematics. 

In addition we deliver teaching across 6 undergraduate and post-graduate programmes: Chemistry; Physics; Electrical, Electronic & Computer Engineering; Chemical Engineering; Mechanical Engineering and Brewing & Distilling. In the 2019 National Student Survey Heriot-Watt University was ranked 35th in the UK. 90% of our students were satisfied overall with their course in over half of the University's subject areas. At subject area level the School ranked in the top 10 UK universities for Physics and we were 3rd in Scotland for Chemistry and 2nd for Mechanical Engineering and 1st in Scotland for Chemical Engineering. 

About our Team  

The Quantum Photonics Laboratory at Heriot-Watt University (HWU) is engaged in research covering solid-state photonics, engineering coherent light-matter interaction using quantum structures and devices, and exploiting such devices for quantum technologies. The group consists of about 20 members, including three academics: Prof. Brian Gerardot, Dr. Cristian Bonato, and Dr. Margherita Mazzera. The quantum photonic platforms used within the group includes two-dimensional materials ‘beyond graphene’, quantum dots in III-V semiconductors, defects in wide band-gap materials such as SiC or diamond, and rare-earth ions doped in solids. The group has well-equipped laboratories for quantum optics and high-resolution laser spectroscopy of quantum nanostructures at cryogenic temperatures as well as newly refurbished cleanroom facilities for the fabrication of quantum photonic devices. It collaborates with a number of research groups both academic and industrial, within HWU, the UK, and internationally.

Detailed Description  

The Quantum Photonics Laboratory seeks a talented and highly motivated scientist to undertake research on quantum information communication technologies using III-V quantum dots as solid-state spin-photon interfaces.  Significant goals include developing applications in quantum optics and quantum communication protocols using indistinguishable single photon sources at telecom wavelengths, investigating dephasing mechanisms and engineering extended coherence for spin-photon interfaces, generating entanglement between similar or disparate quantum systems. The work will benefit from close interactions with Alessandro Fedrizzi’s quantum optics group ( and Erik Gauger’s quantum technology theory group (    

Key Duties and Responsibilities 

The post holder is required to;

  1. The key tasks of this project are to undertake research in the following areas:
    a. Spectroscopy and quantum optics of solid-state quantum emitters.  
    b. Developing and exploiting indistinguishable single photons.
    c. Investigating dephasing mechanisms and engineering extended coherence for spin-photon interfaces.
    d. Generating entanglement between similar or disparate quantum systems
    e. General tasks involve scientific research; analysis and interpretation of data; daily oversight of the activities of postgraduate and undergraduate project students in the laboratory; communication with other investigators involved in collaborative projects; preparation of scientific papers; presentation of research at conferences.
  2. To carry out the research project to a high standard; 
    a. Meeting planned milestones and deliverables.
    b. Reporting progress regularly to supervisors, both verbally and in written reports
    c. Keeping clear written records of work done, and storing data in accessible formats according to a system agreed with the project supervisor.
  3. To collaborate with partners within the project and others as appropriate:
    a. The post holder will join the Quantum Photonics Laboratory and will be expected to work collaboratively and cooperatively in a team environment; this involves shared use of laboratory equipment so effective communication between group members is essential.
    b. Assist the development of student research skills, and be expected to contribute to the assessment of student knowledge in the context of teaching and supervision duties. 
    c. The post holder will be expected to maintain and develop collaborations with internal and external partners in the field.
  4. Dissemination of results:
    a. Attend group and project meetings, communicating progress on a regular basis. Deliver presentations to project collaborators and the wider research community
    b. Assist in writing Progress Reports for submission to project partners and to the European Commission
    c. Write high quality research papers in English for the scientific literature. 
    d. Disseminate results of research in peer reviewed journals and conferences, and/or other appropriate media.  

Other duties

  • Develop research objectives and proposals for own or joint research with the assistance of a mentor, if required.
  • Build internal contacts and participate in internal networks for the exchange of information and to form relationships for future collaboration. Work with academic colleagues on areas of shared research interest and contribute to collaborative decision making. Join external networks to share information and identify potential sources of funds.
  • Contribute, under supervision, to the planning of research projects, including the development of new grant/contract proposals. Make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding and form relationships for future collaboration.
  • The ideal candidate will have a strong theoretical understanding and an experimental background in one or more of the following fields: condensed-matter physics, quantum optics, and quantum information science.
  • The successful candidate will be expected to conduct and lead their own experiments whilst also supervising the activities of junior group members and PhD students.
  • Responsibilities will also include assistance in the day-to-day maintenance of the experimental facilities, liaising with companies and external collaborators.
  • The successful candidate is also expected to be involved in our outreach activities, with roles that can be tuned to the specific preferences of the candidate but will involve for example interviews, talks for the general public and preparation of experimental demonstrators.

Education, Qualifications and Experience 

Essential Criteria 

  1. A good first degree and doctorate in materials science, physics, chemistry, engineering or related discipline. Candidates must have submitted their doctoral thesis before starting in post.
  2. A sound grasp of quantum mechanics, optics, and atomic / molecular / solid state physics.
  3. A demonstrated track-record (during a PhD degree or post-doctoral research) of: 
    • Designing and assembling custom built experimental optical setups.
    • Quantum optics experience.
    • Experience in programming and control of complex experiments and timing electronics
    • Primary author contributions to high-impact peer-reviewed journals
  4. A record of high quality publications, and evidence of contribution to the writing of these publications proportionate to opportunity. 
  5. Ability to formulate and progress work on their own initiative
  6. Evidence of research ability: problem solving, flexibility
  7. Experience in public presentations of scientific results (e.g. conference talks)

Desirable Criteria

  1. Cleanroom fabrication of semiconductor device.
  2. Experience in leading the writing of scientific papers.
  3. Experience of programming for data acquisition (e.g. Python) and analysis.
  4. Evidence of ability, subject to opportunity, to guide other researchers, e.g. PhD students and undergraduate project students.
  5. Experience of research-student supervision.


Travel is expected to include internal UK and European travel to conferences and workshops once normal circumstances are resumed.

Applications can be submitted up to 23:59 hours (UK time) on 30 November 2021.

Heriot-Watt University is committed to securing equality of opportunity in employment and to the creation of an environment in which individuals are selected, trained, promoted, appraised and otherwise treated on the sole basis of their relevant merits and abilities. Equality and diversity are all about maximising potential and creating a culture of inclusion for all.

Heriot-Watt University values diversity across our University community and welcomes applications from all sectors of society, particularly from underrepresented groups. For more information, please see our website and also our award-winning work in Disability Inclusive Science Careers

This position is full time but we are open to discussing flexible working patterns.

Use our total rewards calculator: to see the value of benefits provided by Heriot-Watt University.

Please note once the advert closes the job description will no longer be available.

We encourage applicants to apply online at: Work - Heriot-Watt University ( using the job reference number (1453) to navigate to the job description or by using the URL noted in this advert.