Nano-scale 3D printing for rapid quantum device construction (Three studentships)

The aim of these linked set of projects is to develop our new method of nanoscale 3D printing to produce fully functioning, quantum technology devices in three platforms - semiconductors, superconductors and photonics - and massively speed up the production of one-off test structures for research and industry.  

Start date
1 July 2021
3 years
Application deadline
Funding source
The University of Surrey, Project-led Studentship Award.
Funding information

The funding package for this studentship award is as follows: 


  • Full UK/EU tuition fee covered 
  • Stipend at £15,285 p.a.  
  • RTSG of £1,000 p.a. 
  • Personal Computer (provided by the department) 


In this project three students will develop and exploit new “direct-write” methods for nanoscale construction using focused ion and electron beams. The direct-write may be thought of like 3D printing, as opposed to industry-standard lithography which is like mass production with moulds. Direct write should be much better for quick, one-off research prototypes. Each student will become an expert in the both types of technique. Then each student will focus on a specific quantum technology platform: silicon single electron transistors incorporating implantation of single ions, superconducting devices, or photonic crystal cavities. These projects will be ideal for anyone wanting to gain entry into a rapidly expanding research field and the associated nascent industry, into which billions have already being pumped by governments keen to gain an edge.   

You do not already need experience with focussed ion or electron beams or quantum technology devices. Training will also be carried out on the measurement tools and equipment. Once this training has been carried out you will then develop completely new fabrication processes specific to your own project. You will then optimize the properties of your devices, changing the process steps and structures to better understand the physics and move towards exiting new concepts and devices.  

The supervisory team for the three students is Prof Ben Murdin (silicon impurity quantum optics), Dr Steve Clowes (semiconductor quantum transport), Dr David Cox (focussed ion beam technologies), Dr Marian Florescu (photonic crystals). We have a track record of publishing our results in very high impact journals such as Nature, Nature Photonics, Nature Communications, etc, and we anticipate the work that you do will generate this level of excitement.  

We welcome applications from both women and men, from any background. We discriminate solely on the basis of potential, ability, skills and knowledge.  

Our focussed beams technique can be used to locally control enhanced etching and deposition chemistries. This allows them to directly write many useful materials including insulators, metal wires, superconducting components, and they can also be used for etching patterns in others such as silicon, compound semiconductors, oxides, superconductors and normal metals. All of these can be done with a resolution approaching that attainable with the standard mass-production technique, electron beam lithography. In this project we need three students to help us learn to fill in crucial gaps in the range of materials that can be etched and deposited and improve the quality. The students will then use the techniques to build new, specific devices for our quantum qubit programme, where we aim to control the quantum state of single impurity atoms trapped in a silicon crystal.  


The three projects are all essentially experimental, though there may be some components of theory and modelling to understand the underlying physics of the devices made.  


With the current Covid-19 pandemic situation we expect that training will proceed more slowly than it would normally, and opportunity to travel for collaboration and meeting is curtailed. Otherwise, our laboratories are currently fully functioning, but with strict access rotas to ensure person-to-person contact is minimized.  

Eligibility criteria

Candidates must hold a Bachelors or Masters level in physics, material science or electronic engineering, with grades/GPA at minimum equivalent to a UK upper second class honours degree, though a first class degree will be an advantage.

IELTS requirements: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category. 

Only nationals of the UK/EU are eligible for this studentship.

How to apply

Candidates must apply via the Physics PhD programme page. 

Please include a covering letter, detailed CV, copy of your current or most recent academic transcript, copy of passport, two referees and contact information. Your cover letter should explain why you are interested in the project. You do not need to specify which of the three topics (semiconductors, superconductors, photons) you prefer in your application – this will be decided after the relevant training in all three is complete.  

Applications should be sent to no later than 17.00 (UK time) on 30th Apr 2021. Please apply as early as possible: for exceptional candidates decisions may be made before the closing date and there is no guarantee that positions will remain unfilled on the closing date. All shortlisted candidates will be interviewed (via video link) and have an opportunity to talk to existing PhD student members of the group. 


Application deadline

Contact details

Mrs Nicole Steward 

Tel: 01483 689859 

Your research will be carried out in the Photonics and Quantum Sciences group and the UK national Ion Beam Centre, which are both part of Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute. 

This project is closely linked with the current major activity of the group, which aims to produce a silicon quantum qubit gate. This programme is called COMPASSS/ADDRFSS ( This project fits within COMPASSS/ADDRFSS by allowing a rapid prototyping of the quantum device infrastructure around the impurity atom structures being incorporated by other techniques. The research site will be the Guildford campus of the University of Surrey, in the Advanced Technology Institute. There may be some experiments carried out at collaborator laboratories, such as UCL, the National Physical Laboratory, Radboud University Nijmegen, and others. Willingness to travel including internationally for experiments, meetings and conferences would be an advantage but is not essential. 


Studentships at Surrey

We have a wide range of studentship opportunities available.