A Rydberg atom possesses a very high dipole moment with valence electrons that are very loosely bound (quasi-free), leading to a highly sensitive response to an external electromagnetic (EM) field.
Consequently, the quantum properties of a Rydberg atom are altered when it encounters an external electromagnetic field. The resulting strong electric-dipole coupling can be retrieved quantum-optically using the coherent and non-destructive process of electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT). The process of EIT involves using a laser to excite the valence electron of a Rydberg atom into a Rydberg state. The orbital frequency of this state allows for a near-resonant transition into another Rydberg state driven by an external EM-field.
The research will investigate how an ensemble of Rydberg atoms can be used to sense radio frequency (RF) signal and enhance RF communications between mobile platforms, specifically for use in congested electromagnetic environment. The research will assess how Rydberg receiver technology can be utilised to meet the needs of a range of typical industry defined sensing and communication use cases. The study should identify benefits and limitations of such systems and quantify performance, baselining it against classical techniques for typical communication modulation techniques (e.g. PSK). It is expected the research will develop and evaluate suitable metrics that allow an objective assessment performance to be made and compared to classical alternatives. The research should include the development of a Rydberg communication demonstrator in the facilities offered by Durham University and thus enabling utility, performance and limitations to be practically demonstrated.
Whilst the main focus of the project is comparative to classical methods, the experiments and demonstrator should also enable the consideration of disruptive opportunities for sensing and communications principles that are enabled by the advantages of a Rydberg-based detection system.
This work will be carried out in the Optical Communications Research Lab within Institute for Digital Communications, School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh (UoE). The UoE is a top global university with an ingrained culture of qualitative research and academic development. UoE is persistently ranked in the top 20 based on the QS World University ranking. The Optical Communications Research lab is dedicated to optical wireless technologies. It is built on a strong research network in digital communication and signals processing in Edinburgh such as the Sensors, Signals and Systems (SSS) group, which is one of four research themes that make up The Edinburgh Research Partnership in Engineering. (ERPE, http://www.erpe.ac.uk/about). In REF2022, The Edinburgh Research Partnership in Engineering was ranked first in Scotland and third in the UK, based on the quality and breadth of research by Times Higher Education. 96% of research activity with ERPE was ranked as world-leading and internationally excellent.
CDT Essential Criteria
A Masters level degree (MEng, MPhys, MSc) at 2.1 or equivalent.
Desire to work collegiately, be involved in outreach, undertake taught and professional skills study.
Project Essential Criteria
Willingness to work with a defence industry prime and systems integrator.
Understanding and working knowledge of classical RF communication technology and techniques (hardware and software). Experience of developing and operating laboratory demonstrators.
Masters level degree at 2.1 or equivalent in Electrical/Electronic Engineering or closely related discipline.
Good knowledge of Communication Theory.
Good knowledge of Electronic Engineering.
Excellent embedded software development skills.
Very well organised.
Excellent analytical skills.
Proven ability to work in a team.
Project Desirable Criteria
Rudimental understanding of optics, laser physics, atomic physics and quantum mechanics.
The CDT in Applied Photonics provides a supportive, collaborative environment which values inclusivity and is committed to creating and sustaining a positive and supportive environment for all our applicants, students, and staff. For further information, please see our ED&I statement https://bit.ly/3gXrcwg. Forming a supportive cohort is an important part of the programme and our students take part in various professional skills workshops, including Responsible Research and Innovation workshops and attend Outreach Training.