Fundamental Limits of Quantum Radio Sensors

Radio systems have been developed for over one hundred years, typically using antennas combined with electronic amplifiers and mixers. This project will study an exciting and potentially transformational technology for radio reception, called quantum or atomic radio. The sensing capability is based on the quantum properties of Rydberg atoms. When excited by a laser, these materials can respond to electromagnetic fields, such as those generated at radio frequencies. A second laser can then read the electric field state optically to allow the radio signal to be recovered. This approach provides a new paradigm for reception of radio waves that is not limited by current electronic antenna and amplifier technology. State-of-the-art radio frequency systems are typically limited to narrowband frequency operation and are usually significantly affected by both thermal noise and the effects of noise amplification. Quantum radio offers the potential to break through such limitations.

This project will explore the emerging field of quantum radio to help understand the benefits and potential applications of this technology. An important point for communications applications is to characterize the sensitivity and bandwidth of different Rydberg atomic materials. This will provide an understanding of the fundamental capabilities of this approach and how it can be applied successfully to different wireless applications.

This project is intended to be a modelling based study that applies understanding of material properties to explain how quantum radio works. A particular focus is to understand the strengths and limitations of this new technology, studying what new capabilities it can offer for reception of electromagnetic waves. The project supervisors are also interested in developing practical demonstrations of this approach and it is hoped to offer the chance to participate in real world hardware evaluations. The ideal candidate for this project would have a first degree in physics, electronic and electrical engineering or a related discipline. A capability to develop and apply mathematical modelling techniques will be particularly important for this work.

Closing Date: 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Principal Supervisor: 

Assistant Supervisor: 


Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.

Undergraduate degree in Physics, Electronic and Electrical Engineering or related discipline.


Further information and other funding options.

Applications are welcomed from self-funded students, or students who are applying for        scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere

EPSRC funded (see EPSRC student eligibility). Tuition fees + stipend available for      Home students or EU students who have been resident in the UK for 3 years (International students not eligible)

Informal Enquiries: