PhD Position in Experimental Quantum Physics: Creating a Superradiant Clock

PhD Position in Experimental Quantum Physics: Creating a Superradiant Clock

Published Deadline Location
23 Aug 30 Nov Amsterdam

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Job description

Are you a eager to build state-of-the-art experiments and use them to explore quantum physics in a lively, international group?

Our Strontium Quantum Gases Group is looking for ambitious PhD students who want to participate in exciting quantum simulation, sensing and computing experiments. This group is headed by Prof. Florian Schreck and is part of the Quantum Gases & Quantum Information (QG&QI) cluster at the Institute of Physics (IoP) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and also hosts the Quantum Delta NL Ultracold Quantum Sensing Testbed. We use ultracold Sr gases for quantum sensing, to study many-body quantum physics and for quantum computing. We have three open PhD positions, one each on the research projects described below. For more information about the projects take a look at our website or contact Florian Schreck.

What are you going to do?
You will build a new type of optical clock, a continuous superradiant clock. Optical clocks are extremely precise, going wrong by only one second over the lifetime of the universe and being able to measure gravitational time dilation of just a cm height difference [1]. This precision is obtained by measuring the frequency of narrow optical transitions, in our case of strontium. Usual optical clocks operate in a pulsed manner, first laser cooling a gas of atoms to a few microKelvin (in order to suppress the Doppler effect) and then spectroscopically determining the transition frequency. By contrast, our clock will operate continuously and we will entice our atoms to emit light on the clock transition directly. This challenging endeavour is made realistic by our continuous ultracold Sr source technology [2] combined with superradiant lasing of those atoms in an optical cavity [3]. You will enter a new regime of experimental physics, providing a rich landscape for explorations. On the more applied side, superradiant clocks should provide high precision already after a short averaging time, which is important for many clock applications.

You will be joining our clock team at a very interesting time. Most building blocks of the new clock have been constructed and we are excited to put these blocks together and to bootstrap the clock. By joining our team you will learn about all aspects of the clock, from its rich underlying physics, to its high-tech components (electronics, lasers, optics, frequency combs, ultrastable resonators, vacuum,…). This project is embedded in a larger research effort within Quantum Delta NL on quantum sensing with ultracold atoms, which also encompasses atom lasers, zero-deadtime clocks, time and frequency dissemination, and quantum computing.

  1. Andrew D. Ludlow, Martin M. Boyd, Jun Ye, E. Peik, and P. O. Schmidt, Optical atomic clocks, Rev. Mod. Phys. 87, 637 (2015).
  2. Chun-Chia Chen (陳俊嘉), Rodrigo González Escudero, Jiří Minář, Benjamin Pasquiou, Shayne Bennetts, Florian Schreck, Continuous Bose-Einstein condensation, Nature 606, 683 (2022).
  3. Matthew A. Norcia, Matthew N. Winchester, Julia R. K. Cline and James K. Thompson, Superradiance on the millihertz linewidth strontium clock transition, Science Advances 2, e1601231 (2016).

Tasks and responsibilities:
  • Constructing, bootstrapping and using ultracold atom experiments;
  • conducting research, resulting in academic publications in peer-reviewed international journals and/or books;
  • supervising Bachelor and Master theses and tutoring students;


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


You hold a MSc. (or equivalent) in physics and you have done an experimental master project (or equivalent) in an optical, atomic or molecular physics lab, ideally on ultracold atoms or trapped ions. Other skills and documents that would benefit your application are
  • hands-on experience with experimental techniques used in an ultracold atom lab, such as electronics, lasers, optics;
  • working knowledge of a programming language (C++, Python, matlab or equivalent);
  • good English oral and written communication skills.

To foster diversity in our research group, we will especially appreciate applications from groups underrepresented in science.

Conditions of employment

PhD position
A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). The preferred starting date is as soon as possible. This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students.

The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and dependent on relevant experience, ranges between € 2,770 to € 3,539 (scale P) This does not include 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% year-end allowance. The UFO profile PhD candidate, scale P is applicable. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Universities of the Netherlands is applicable.

Besides the salary and a vibrant and challenging environment at Science Park we offer you multiple fringe benefits:
  • 232 holiday hours per year (based on fulltime) and extra holidays between Christmas and 1 January;
  • multiple courses to follow from our Teaching and Learning Centre;
  • a complete educational program for PhD students;
  • multiple courses on topics such as time management, handling stress and an online learning platform with 100+ different courses;
  • 7 weeks birth leave (partner leave) with 100% salary;
  • partly paid parental leave;
  • the possibility to set up a workplace at home;
  • a pension at ABP for which UvA pays two third part of the contribution;
  • the possibility to follow courses to learn Dutch;
  • help with housing for a studio or small apartment when you’re moving from abroad.

Are you curious to read more about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits, take a look here.


Faculty of Science

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 8,000, as well as 1,800 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The Institute of Physics is situated in new, purpose-built laboratory and teaching space in the building of the Faculty of Science in the Science Park Amsterdam. This location also plays host to numerous national research institutes such as AMOLF (nanophotonics, biomolecular systems, photovoltaics), NIKHEF (Subatomic Physics) and CWI (mathematics and Computer Science), as well as ARCNL (Advanced Research Center for Nanolithography, which combines the leading Dutch tech firm ASML with both Amsterdam universities and AMOLF) and the Quantum Delta NL Ultracold Quantum Sensing Testbed.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • max. €2770 per month
  • University graduate
  • 12016


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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Science Park 904, 1098XH, Amsterdam

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