PhD Studentship: Applying Quantum Computing to Real Materials

Updated: about 2 months ago
Location: London, ENGLAND
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 15 Feb 2021

Supervisors: Professors Peter Haynes, Johannes Knolle & Myungshik Kim
Duration: 42 months, starting in October 2021
Funding: Tuition fees at the home rate plus a stipend of £17,285 per annum

The simulation of quantum materials and molecules have been identified as promising early applications of quantum computers due to the equivalence of entanglement and correlated electronic motion. The so-called era of Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ) technology is just around the corner and promises universal quantum computing with 50–100 qubits that are capable of performing tasks beyond classical computers. However they are also limited by noise in the number of quantum gates that can be connected into a circuit to execute a given quantum algorithm. Nevertheless simulations of small molecules and simple models of materials have already been demonstrated on existing hardware.

This studentship aims to provide an exemplar of the application of NISQ computing to correlated electronic structure calculations of a prototypical semiconducting polymer used in optoelectronic devices. These deceptively simple materials require a theoretical description of electron correlation that goes beyond standard methods based on density-functional theory, and therefore offer the potential for quantum advantage. At the same time, the application of semiconducting polymers in light-emitting diodes, flexible displays, solar cells and field-effect transistors means that they are of significant industrial interest.

The project will apply emerging algorithms for quantum computers such as variational quantum eigensolvers to more realistic models of polymers and molecules parametrised by first-principles simulations on classical computers. Calculations may be performed on IBMQ facilities.

This 42-month studentship is funded by the Doctoral Training Partnership of the EPSRC UK Quantum  Technology Hub in Computing & Simulation and will involve collaboration with a diverse and dynamic group of PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. Informal enquiries should be made to Professor Peter Haynes at p.haynes@imperial.ac.uk . Applicants should have a Master’s degree (or equivalent) in the physical sciences at the equivalent of a UK First or Upper Second Class. We strongly encourage applications from under-represented groups.

The funding covers tuition fees at the home student rate plus the standard maintenance stipend of £17,285 per annum (subject to an annual cost-of-living increase). Both UK and international students from outside the UK are encouraged to apply.

Applicants should submit the electronic application form, submitting a CV, transcripts, a cover letter and the information of two referees through the College’s application portal https://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/pg/apply/how-to-apply/apply-for-a-research-programme-/ .

The prospectus, entry requirements and application form (under ‘how to apply’) are available at: http://www.imperial.ac.uk/pgprospectus . Please contact Dr Alba Maria Matas Adams ( a-matas-adams@imperial.ac.uk) for further information on the application process. Information about the Department can be found at http://www.imperial.ac.uk/materials .

Closing date: 15 February 2021

The College is a proud signatory to the San-Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which means that in hiring and promotion decisions, we evaluate applicants on the quality of their work, not the journal impact factor where it is published. For more information, see https://www.imperial.ac.uk/research-and-innovation/about-imperial-research/research-evaluation/

The College believes that the use of animals in research is vital to improve human and animal health and welfare. Animals may only be used in research programmes where their use is shown to be necessary for developing new treatments and making medical advances. Imperial is committed to ensuring that, in cases where this research is deemed essential, all animals in the College’s care are treated with full respect, and that all staff involved with this work show due consideration at every level. http://www.imperial.ac.uk/research-and-innovation/about-imperial-research/research-integrity/animal-research /

Imperial College is committed to equality of opportunity, to eliminating discrimination and to creating an inclusive working environment. We are an Athena SWAN Silver award winner, a Stonewall Diversity Champion, a Disability Confident Employer and work in partnership with GIRES to promote respect for trans people.


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