Postdoctoral Researchers in Gravitational Quantum Physics

Updated: 4 months ago

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The Quantum Nanomechanics group at the Department of Applied Physics is looking for two outstanding

Postdoctoral researchers

to carry out experimental research on the recently funded ERC Advanced Grant project GUANTUM - Probing the limits of quantum mechanics and gravity with micromechanical oscillators. The goal of the project is nothing less than solving a hundred-year-old mystery of physics: Despite its success at describing phenomena in the low-energy limit, quantum mechanics is incompatible with general relativity that describes gravity and huge energies. The interface between these two has remained experimentally elusive, because only the most violent events in the universe have been considered to produce measurable effects due to the plausible quantum behavior of gravity. In this project, we aim at detecting gravitational forces for the first time within a quantum system. Instead of huge energies, we are interested in extremely low energies. We use mechanical oscillators loaded by milligram masses, and bring two such gravitationally interacting oscillators into nonclassical motional states such as squeezed or entangled quantum states. Initially, we measure the gravitational force between gold particles weighing a milligram, representing a new mass scale showing gravitational forces within a system.

Your role and goals

Postdoc #1 will be responsible for the development and measurement of “quantum gravitational” devices, where the core element is an oscillating silicon nitride membrane that is loaded by a small mass. At very low temperatures achievable in dilution refrigerators, the oscillator becomes nearly isolated from energy losses to the environment, and it can further be brought quantum with microwave optomechanics. You will accommodate these devices into a quantum-limited detection system comprising of parametric amplifiers and real-time feedback to verify the gravitational forces inside the system.

Postdoc #2 will be responsible for engineering aspects of the research: development of the cryogenic system including vibration isolation, cryogenic nanopositioning, optical imaging, and perfecting the microwave measurements.

Depending on the qualifications and interest of the candidates, the roles may be strongly overlapping. Both postdocs are expected to actively participate in instructing PhD students.

Your experience and ambitions

For this challenging research, we are looking for outstanding candidates who are motivated in experimental, low-temperature quantum physics. We require the candidates to have a proven track record in experimental research with similar or related topics, clean room microfabrication, strong interest in micromechanical systems. Additionally, the candidates should be excellent team players. Experience with cryogenics and dilution refrigerators, and skill in theoretical understanding of the studied phenomena, are considered significant assets.

What we offer

The Quantum Nanomechanics team, ambitous but relaxed with a great team spirit, carries out top -notch experimental research on the foundations of quantum mechanics. In our recent research, we have demonstrated quantum entanglement between two micromechanical resonators [Nature 556, 478 (2018) , Science 372, 625 (2021) ]. With superconducting qubits, we explore processing of quantum information with mechanical motion.

In our more applied research, we lay the foundation for a new generation of devices that use various types of microwave-optomechanical effects for efficient signal processing. We have realized quantum-limited microwave amplifiers and nonreciprocal components to be used in superconducting quantum technology. Besides electromechanics, we are investigating hybrid devices that aim on controlling ferromagnetic magnons using acoustic waves.

The fixed term contract is typically initially for two years. Aalto University follows the salary system of Finnish universities. The starting salary for a Postdoctoral researcher is approx. 3700€/month. The salary ranges from 3700€ to 4000€ per month, depending on previous experience. The contract includes Aalto University occupational healthcare.

The workplace will be the Otaniemi Campus of Aalto University, in the premises of the OtaNano national research infrastructure for micro- and nanotechnologies. OtaNano provides access to all the advanced nanofabrication, nanomicroscopy and measurement facilities and techniques. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland on campus leverages the bridge between research and innovation. Several startup companies working with electronics, cryogenics, and quantum technology have recently emerged in the community. Our team belongs to the national Centre of Excellence – Quantum Technology Finland that is harnessing quantum phenomena for solid-state-based quantum devices and applications. We also belong to the European Microkelvin Platform collaboration.

Ready to apply?

To apply for the position, please submit your application including the attachments mentioned below as one single PDF document in English through the link ’Apply now’ link at the bottom of the web page. 

(1)   Letter of motivation
(2)   CV including list of publications
(3)   Degree certificates and academic transcripts
(4)   Contact details of at least two referees

The deadline for applications is August 31, 2021. The positions will be filled as soon as suitable candidates are identified. For additional information, kindly contact Prof. Mika Sillanpää, . Aalto University reserves the right for justified reasons to leave the position open, to extend the application period, reopen the application process, and to consider candidates who have not submitted applications during the application period.

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