New PhD position open for applications now!

A PhD position is available immediately to work at the Quantum Technology Group at Queen’s with Prof. Mauro Paternostro on non-equilibrium quantum thermodynamics enhanced by machine learning. The position will be funded by the Royal Society Wolfson Research Fellowship recently awarded to Prof. Mauro Paternostro. Applications through the CTAMOP portal ( will be accepted until 13 December 2019. All applicants will be interviewed and the successful candidate is expected to start in early 2020.

Postdoctoral research position available at QTeQ

A postdoctoral research position to undertake theoretical research on “Quantum Thermodynamics” for 30 months from 01/05/2020 to 31/10/2022 is open for applications ( until 03/01/2020. This post will be funded by an EPSRC grant entitled “Quantum Many-Body Engines” awarded to Dr. Gabriele De Chiara. The project will be conducted in collaboration with experimental groups working on ultracold atomic setups with the aim of designing and realising experimentally quantum thermodynamic machines. More details are available here (

Thanks to the tremendous advance in the experimental realisations of quantum technologies applications of thermodynamics with quantum devices are foreseeable in the near future. In the new emerging field of quantum thermodynamics a considerable effort is being devoted to the design and analysis of thermal machines and refrigerators operating at the quantum level and the theoretical foundation of thermodynamics from quantum principles, including the definition of thermodynamic quantities like heat and work, with inputs from quantum information theory.

There are currently several attempts at realising quantum machines, capable of producing work, with a few degrees of freedom, e.g. a single particle. Although quantum thermodynamics is developing very fast, it is not yet clear how to scale up such machines to systems composed of many quantum particles. This achievement would enable practical applications of quantum machines as autonomous devices capable of correcting errors and imperfections in quantum simulators and quantum computers as well as serving as assemblers of quantum materials at the nanoscale.

The overarching challenge of this project is to theoretically design thermal machines, that use as working substance an ensemble of many interacting quantum particles. More specifically, we will consider a network of interacting quantum particles, quantum harmonic oscillators and localised spins, externally driven and coupled to thermal and non-equilibrium reservoirs. The network will be arranged in order to transform heat into mechanical work, thus operating as a thermal engine, or to employ external work to extract heat from a cold reservoir for the realisation of a refrigerator. As a further step, we will optimise the geometry and architecture of the network itself to deliver work and refrigeration with the largest power and efficiency. Since it would be a formidable task to optimise all the tens of parameters of the Hamiltonian, we will employ machine learning techniques to this end. Finally, an important fraction of the project will be done in collaboration with two experimental groups working on ultracold atoms with the aim of designing thermal machines that can be realised with their current experimental setups. In collaboration with J. Sherson (Aarhus) we will design an engine whose working substance and reservoirs are realised with ultracold atoms in optical lattice potentials. In collaboration with T. Donner (Zürich) we will design a refrigerator made of two atomic Bose-Einstein condensates that interact with the common mode of an optical cavity.

PhD position available at QTeQ

A 4-year PhD position is available to work with Mauro Paternostro on thermodynamics of quantum systems within a recently awarded Leverhulme Trust grant. Details on the project are reported below. Applications from graduate students in Theoretical Physics and Applied Mathematics are now invited. Applications from interested students should be submitted through the following link. Successful applicants will receive stipend and tuition fees support (EU/Home rate) and support towards research and training activities. Deadline for applications: Wednesday 12 December 2018.

Thermodynamics is one of the pillars upon which science is built. It predicts and explains the occurrence and efficiency of complex chemical reactions and biological processes. In physics and engineering, the conduction of heat, the concept of the arrow of time and the efficiency of motors are formulated in thermodynamic terms. In information theory, the definitions of information and entropy are explicitly related to thermodynamics. The relevance of this field extends all the way down to the most routine of our activities: cars, heat pumps and fridges work and are designed according to the principles of thermodynamics.
The key ingredient of thermodynamics are thermal fluctuations: temperature makes the energy of a particle in a gas fluctuate. This occurs all the way down to the microscopic, single-atom level. Yet, when we are interested in the thermodynamic properties of such elementary constituents of matter, we should include in our description the predictions of quantum theory. In such a framework, “quantum” fluctuations are key: these are intrinsically different from the classical thermal one, and occur even when the temperature of the system is zero.
While we are aware of the possibility to describe thermal and quantum fluctuations under the unifying umbrella of “quantum thermodynamics” — i.e. the generalisation of classical thermodynamics to a quantum context — there is no experimental demonstration, so far, of the possibility to harness quantum fluctuations to the advantage of thermodynamic tasks. This project will provide exactly such much needed, long sought-after evidence by working towards the demonstration of the first working engine that operates fully within the quantum domain.
The goal of this project is to kick-start the research on devices using quantum thermodynamics for a new paradigm of quantum technologies. We will aim at achieving enabling technological and scientific objectives that will embody crucial stepping stones towards the implementation of quantum thermodynamic machines. Specifically:
(i) We will understand the fundamental mechanism that rules the energy-exchange processes undergone by our elementary working medium and its environment. Such understanding is thus the key to ground the quantum counterpart of thermodynamics, and to build prototypes of quantum thermo- machines.
(iii) We will demonstrate theoretically a fully operational quantum thermo-machine based on a single atom, characterising its efficiency against quantum resources consumed/created across their lifetime. (iii): We will enhance the performance of such machines through the use of sophisticated quantum control techniques, with the aim of widening the gap between classical machines and quantum devices. (iv): We will extend the architecture for a quantum engine to many-particle working media. This will open up the possibility to exploit quantum many-body physics to enhance the functionalities of quantum engines.

QTeQ’s work in PRL as an Editors’ Suggestion

QTeQ strikes an Editors’ Suggestion for their latest paper in Phys. Rev. Lett.!!!

As a result of an international collaboration (involving ETH Zurich, the University of Vienna, the University of Sao Paulo, Universidade Federal do ABC, Chalmers, and the University of Cambridge), Alessandro, Gabriele and Mauro have published a paper in Phys. Rev. Lett. reporting on the assessment of entropy production from non-equilibrium quantum processes realised in an optomechanical system and an intra-cavity BEC one. The paper puts in place a theoretical framework for the observation of entropy production in Gaussian states developed as a result of the Sao Paulo–Belfast all-theory collaboration and embodies the first observation of entropy production in non-equilibrium mesoscopic quantum systems. Huge work done by former QTeQers Matteo Brunelli and Lorenzo Fusco, who worked hard to see these results published. Well done guys!!!

The details of the paper can be found here

QTeQ awarded Leverhulme Trust Grant!

QTeQ has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant to investigate thermodynamics of quantum systems and the construction of a single-atom quantum engine using optical tweezers and quantum control techniques. The project, called UltraQuTe, is a collaboration with the Birmingham-based experimental group led by Dr. Giovanni Barontini, an expert in the manipulation of the quantum state of ultra-cold atoms and an enthusiast of quantum thermodynamics. A new member of QtEQ will join the group in November!!

QTeQ on retreat!!!

The 2018 QTeQ retreat kicked off this morning with the welcome by one of the organisers, Helena Majury, and a talk by Ricardo Puebla on quantum simulation! The programme continues with Andre’ talking of quantum gravity, Oussama discussing of state-engineering in optomechanics, and Obinna illustating his quantum thermodynamic results.

The group will get together for two days, benefiting of the input by visitors Matteo Carlesso and Alessio Belenchia, both presenting as friends-of-the-family and future members of the team (Alessio).

The organisers, Helena Majury, Christine Cartwright, and Hannah McAleese, have put together a programme of scientific talks, poster presentations, and group activities aimed at informing the group of all the different research strands within QTeQ, and strengthening the ties among its members.

Many thanks to Christine, Hannah and Helena

A whole bunch of new QTeQ members

New members have joined the group in the last few months!

Dr. Ricardo Puebla Antunes has joined us from the University of Ulm to work under DfE-SFI funding on problems of open-system dynamics aimed at describing the evolution of small quantum systems under the presence of complex environments. This will be relevant to the group’s endeavours in understanding the physics of single-photon emitters in solid state.

Mr. Giorgio Zicari joined us under the framework of the MSCA Cofund project SPARK to work on the possible benefits of a machine-learning approach to one-system dynamics. Giorgio previously worked at University of Bari, under the supervision of Prof. S. Pascazio, and at ICTP Trieste, working with Prof. A. Scardicchio.

Miss Marta Marchese secured a PhD position within the group under the funding provided by the H2020 Collaborative Project TEQ to work on the test, in mesoscopic physics, of alternative models to standard decoherence theory. Marta received her degrees from the University of Palermo and the University of Trieste, where she worked under the supervision of Prof. A. Bassi.

Welcome to everybody and have fun!

..and congrats to Dr. Ruari McCloskey as well!!

Congratulations to Ruari McCloskey, who passed his PhD Viva today!!
Ruari successfully defended his thesis against the ‘attacks’ by Dr. Andrew Brown (CTAMOP, Queen’s) and Prof. Bassano Vacchini (University of Milan). QTeQ congratulates Ruari on becoming a Dr. and hope to see him around as often as possible, although we are all aware he will be very busy becoming a super-star with his band (Civil Simian: check them out!!) and, as a hobby, working as a data analyst.

Congratulations to Dr. Brunelli

The whole QTeQ congratulates Matteo Brunelli for adding the prefix Dr. to his name!

On Monday 28 August 2017, our own Matteo has brilliantly passed his PhD viva with only minor corrections to his otherwise brilliantly written dissertation. The external examiner, Prof. Klemens Hammerer (Hannover) was very positively impressed by Matteo’s critical attitude to his own work and the depth of his understanding of non-equilibrium thermodynamics of quantum processes in harmonic systems.

Matteo will (sadly for us!) soon leave Belfast to join the group led by Dr. Andreas Nunnenkamp in Cambridge. He will be deeply missed, but we hope for frequent and extensive visits to ‘home’.