University of St. Andrews


The University of St Andrews (USTAN) is Scotland’s first university and the third oldest in the Englishspeaking
world, founded in 1413. The School of Physics and Astronomy has a world-leading research profile
covering a broad spectrum from fundamental to applied physics. We are highly rated both for our research
(ranked 3rd in the UK in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework) and for our teaching (97% satisfaction
rating in 2018).


Project Leader

Principle Investigator:
Donatella Cassettari (

Project Details

The goal of the PhD project at St. Andrews is the exploration of novel ring-shaped atom traps for applications to quantum sensing. You will make use of techniques from the field of atomtronics, a new field at the frontier of matter-wave optics seeking to realize atomic circuits in which ultracold atoms are manipulated in versatile optical or magnetic traps. In particular, your work will be based on holographic optical traps, which are produced by diffracting a laser beam off a computer-controlled optical device, known as a Spatial Light Modulator (SLM). This apparatus offers unparalleled flexibility for the purpose of trapping and manipulating ultracold atoms.

In this context, in this PhD project you will simulate the dynamics of a Bose-Einstein condensate confined in a ring trap and prepared in a vortex-anti vortex superposition. It has been theoretically proposed that this configuration can be used as an inertial sensor, e.g. to measure rotations, or as a magnetic field sensor. In both cases, the external influence causes a precession of the BEC standing wave, which can be measured experimentally. In your project, you will use numerical simulations to optimise the preparation of condensate in the superposition state, study its evolution in the ring trap, and finally test the sensitivity of this device to external magnetic fields for realistic experimental parameters. This work is mostly computational, but some aspects will also be explored experimentally.