PhD in Quantum Optics of Giant Rydberg Excitons in Cuprous Oxide

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    Cardiff University
    United Kingdom
    Formal sciences
    Natural sciences



Cuprous oxide (Cu2O) is one the oldest, and yet least well-known, semiconductor material. It has a slightly larger band gap than silicon, which means that the single crystal form of the material is slightly transparent in the visible part of the spectrum. Cuprous oxide exists in nature and beautiful deep-red gemstones have been cut and polished from natural single crystal material. There has been renewed recent interest in cuprous oxide as a technological material because of potential applications in photocatalysis and solar energy harvesting.

Cuprous oxide has an additional extraordinary optoelectronic property. In most semiconductors, photons with energy just larger than the band gap can produce bound electron-hole states known has excitons. These excitons are not unlike hydrogen atoms trapped in the solid-state: they consist of an electron orbiting a positive core (hole). Like hydrogen, the excitons also have excited states, which typically take the form of Rydberg series, and at cryogenic temperatures it is usually possible to observe a small number (3 or 4) excited states. Due to the unusual nature of the Fermi surface in cuprous oxide however, very high principal quantum number excitons states can exist. A recent Nature paper reported Rydberg series extending up to n = 25. This means that the exciton in cuprous oxide is an extraordinarily stable quantum object, and one that can be readily manipulated with light.

The aim of this PhD project is to investigate the quantum optical properties of this unique material and explore its potential to be exploited for quantum technologies. The student will join a well-funded medium-sized research group including two postdoctoral researchers and 5 PhD students. They will be trained in the use of a range of advanced spectroscopic characterisation tools, including ultrafast lasers and time-resolved transient FT-IR. They will also be trained in the latest cryogenic techniques, and additional materials characterisation tools including scanning-electron microscopy (SEM), confocal microscopy, and Raman spectroscopy. It is likely that the student will be required to spend some time abroad working with our international collaborators.

What is funded

Tuition fee support: Full UK/EU tuition fees

Maintenance stipend: Doctoral stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum

Additional funding offered: Additional funding is available over the course of the programme and will covers costs such as research consumables, training, conferences and travel.


Residency: UK Research Council eligibility conditions apply

Academic criteria: Applicants to the PhD and MPhil programmes are normally required to hold a first class honours degree in a related subject at undergraduate level or else an upper second class degree in a related subject at master's level

How to Apply

Please note that Cardiff University reserves the right to close this advert early if sufficient applications are received before the deadline.

Applicants should apply to the Doctor of Philosophy in Physics and Astronomy with a start date of 1st October 2020:


In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project. If you are applying for more than one project, please list the individual titles of the projects in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select ’I will be applying for a scholarship/grant’ and specify that you are applying for advertised funding from Cardiff University.

Applicants will need to submit the following documents with their application:

- post high school certificates and transcripts to date

- academic CV

- personal statement

- two academic references. Your references can either be uploaded with your application, or emailed by the referee to physics-admissions@cardiff.ac.uk or admissions@cardiff.ac.uk



The responsibility for the funding offers published on this website, including the funding description, lies entirely with the publishing institutions. The application is handled uniquely by the employer, who is also fully responsible for the recruitment and selection processes.