Promotionsthemen

Below you can find the available PhD Research Topics for application into the second phase of the program (PhD research). When applying via the application portal, you are free to choose up to five topics. If you are interested in the Fellows’ research activities, visit our Fellows page and click on the institutions of interest to get to the relevant website. Unfortunately, it is not possible to apply for a PhD Research Topic with a Fellow, if he/she is not listed here with a topic. However, during the application procedure there is the option to make fine adjustments on topics.

  • Stefan W. Hell - Far-Field Optical Imaging at Molecular Resolution (Göttingen)

  • New concepts have radically overcome the longstanding limits to optical analysis of molecular systems. Optical resolutions of a few nano¬meters have been demonstrated, well beyond Abbe’s diffraction limit, for example with the recent MINFLUX concept (Science 355, 606-612 (2017)). This opens up entirely new experimental opportunities, breaking new ground in the study of macromolecules and beyond. The successful candidate will develop advanced optical instrumentation and investigate physical imaging conditions and resolution performance. Alternatively, a related project involving theoretical optical analysis and modelling can be offered. The candidate should have (or expect to complete soon) a Master’s or equivalent degree in Physics or Physical Chemistry or a comparable qualification.


  • Maria Chekhova – Additional Toppic (Erlangen)

  • Loss-tolerant quantum imaging with twin beams. One of the ways to enhance signal-to-noise ratio in imaging is to illuminate an object with twin beams, for which the photon numbers are correlated. Such twin beams are produced at the output of a nonlinear crystal through high-gain parametric down-conversion. However, this technique is useless if the detection efficiency is not extremely high. The project aims at further developing this technique by adding phase sensitive parametric amplification of the image, which will make the imaging tolerant to any loss and therefore suitable for ‘difficult’ spectral ranges like IR and terahertz.


  • Ulrich Nienhaus - Advancing STED nanoscopy-based tools for live cell dynamics (Karlsruhe)

  • STED nanoscopy for 3D imaging of cellular dynamics: Stimulated emission depletion (STED) nanoscopy is a super-resolution fluorescence imaging technique to study biomolecular interactions in living systems at the highest possible temporal and spatial resolution. In this research, STED nanoscopy-based instrumentation will be advanced through implementation of ultrafast laser beam scanners and adaptive optics for suppression of aberrations. Moreover, novel data analysis tools based on single particle tracking and spatial/temporal correlations of pixel intensities will be developed and used for a range of biophysical experiments on living systems (cells, tissues organisms).


  • Ulrich Nienhaus – Additional Topic (Karlsruhe)

  • Light sheet microscopy with single molecule localization-based super-resolution: Light sheet microscopy (LSM) is a fluorescence microscopy variant with key advantages for 3D imaging of optically thick biological specimens. Light sheet engineering with adaptive optics (“lattice light sheets”) yields unprecedented image quality. In this research, the hardware and software of our custom-designed (LSM) apparatus will be further refined to enable a robust implementation of localization microscopy-based super-resolution. Then, this methodology will be applied in biophysical experiments on living systems (cells, tissues, organisms).


  • Thomas Pertsch - Nanoscale photon control for next generation ultrafast integrated quantum systems (Jena)

  • Nanoscale photon control for next generation ultrafast integrated quantum systems: We are looking for talented candidates, who are sharing the enthusiasm for nanoscale quantum photonics with us. This research field, with its multiple challenges in fundamental physics, quantitative modelling of complex multiphysics problems, nanotechnology, and experimental physics, is an ideal area for qualification of young scientists seeking career opportunities at the forefront of science & research. A PhD project in this field would involve the design, technological realization, and experimental characterization of nonlinear photonic nanostructures for photonic quantum state generation and detection. Besides curiosity-driven fundamental research in nanophotonics, the work would incorporate connections to application-driven projects for quantum imaging and sensing.


  • Andreas Tünnermann – Nonlinear Quantum Optics & Applied Quantum Information Processing (Jena)

  • Quantum technology is a dynamic field in modern applied research in the field of laser physics. Two very fruitful branches are quantum communication via quantum key distribution (QKD) and quantum-enhanced imaging. Both fields rest upon photon-pair or multi-photon sources with very hard requirements on brightness, spectral range, and entanglement fidelity. Additionally, for useful practical application, such sources need to be ultra-stable, compact, and field-deployable. The task will be to work on the development and engineering of laser based sources of entangled photons with outstanding performance. In doing so, novel concepts besides spontaneous parametric down conversion (SPDC) in non-linear crystals should be followed and evaluated. Moreover, the sources shall be further harnessed to implement both novel QKD and quantum imaging schemes. For the challenge of miniaturization, this work will drive the replacement of macroscopic setups by photonic integrated circuits.


  • Vladislav Yakovlev - Theory of attosecond metrology in solids and nanoscale objects (München)

  • All electronic devices are based on the coupled dynamics of charge carriers and electromagnetic fields. This synchronous motion has enabled many great advances in technology, from computing to telecommunications. How far are these technologies from their fundamental limits? We use both experiment and theory to find it out. Our research is centered upon this fundamental question: how to advance our ability to induce, control, and monitor charge-carrier dynamics with light? The Laboratory of Attosecond Physics specializes in the generation of precisely controlled light pulses in different spectral regions, from infrared to ultraviolet. The extraordinary degree of control over light, offered by our state-of-the-art laser sources, enables us to explore light-matter interaction taking place within a fraction of an oscillation cycle of a visible light field. Investigating such extremely fast processes, we pursue the vision of petahertz-scale optoelectronic signal processing.


  • Vladislav Yakovlev – Additional Topic (München)

  • The coupling of physics and photonics for the development of new technologies, applicable for bio-medical sciences. Leveraging the controlled electric field transients available at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optic, that push the limits of current laser technology, to achieve temporal confinement of the ionization of molecular systems, we aim for complete temporal separation between the excitation and the resulting radiation. We are investigating the effects of rapidly removing an electron from a molecule using an impulse-like intense laser field and studying the radiation emitted from the resulting molecular ion, within the IR, mid-IR and THz spectral ranges. This work should have impact within the fields of THz science, spectroscopy, and bio-medical sciences.


  • Matthias Kling - Attosecond imaging and spectroscopy of light-induced dynamics in molecules and nanostructures (München)

  • We are interested in ultrafast correlated and collective electron dynamics that unfold when complex materials are exposed to intense, ultrashort laser fields. In particular this includes the attosecond control and tracing of strongly coupled electron-nuclear dynamics in quantum systems such as molecules, and of collective electron dynamics in nanostructured materials, and lightwave-driven petahertz (nano)electronics. We develop and use multi-dimensional imaging techniques in conjunction with (attosecond) pump-probe experiments to gain detailed insight into the dynamics from the interaction of these materials with near-single cycle laser fields of typically attosecond to femtosecond duration. We actively push the theoretical modeling of the rather complex multi-charge dynamics, which are partly carried out in our group using Monte-Carlo simulations with more intricate models within collaborations.



  • Stefan W. Hell - Far-Field Optical Imaging at Molecular Resolution (Göttingen)

  • New concepts have radically overcome the longstanding limits to optical analysis of molecular systems. Optical resolutions of a few nano¬meters have been demonstrated, well beyond Abbe’s diffraction limit, for example with the recent MINFLUX concept (Science 355, 606-612 (2017)). This opens up entirely new experimental opportunities, breaking new ground in the study of macromolecules and beyond. The successful candidate will develop advanced optical instrumentation and investigate physical imaging conditions and resolution performance. Alternatively, a related project involving theoretical optical analysis and modelling can be offered. The candidate should have (or expect to complete soon) a Master’s or equivalent degree in Physics or Physical Chemistry or a comparable qualification.


  • David Hunger - Label-free single-molecule sensing with open-access microcavities (Karlsruhe)

  • The detection and characterization of individual non-fluorescent nanosystems with high temporal resolution could provide new insights into their intrinsic properties and dynamics. To achieve the high sensitivity required for studying individual unlabelled nanosystems in solution, we use signal enhancement in a fiber-based Fabry-Perot microcavity, which is integrated into a microfluidic channel. The presence and dynamics of a nanoobject in the tight focus of the cavity mode can be detected e.g. via the dispersive light-matter interaction and the resulting cavity frequency shift. Within the PhD project, measurement techniques shall be developed that achieve the sensitivity to reveal the Brownian motion of few-10-nm large nanoobjects at high temporal resolution. The goal is to investigate the polarizability of biologically relevant nanosystems and study their dynamical processes such as binding kinetics or folding dynamics.


  • Ulrich Nienhaus - Advancing STED nanoscopy-based tools for live cell dynamics (Karlsruhe)

  • STED nanoscopy for 3D imaging of cellular dynamics: Stimulated emission depletion (STED) nanoscopy is a super-resolution fluorescence imaging technique to study biomolecular interactions in living systems at the highest possible temporal and spatial resolution. In this research, STED nanoscopy-based instrumentation will be advanced through implementation of ultrafast laser beam scanners and adaptive optics for suppression of aberrations. Moreover, novel data analysis tools based on single particle tracking and spatial/temporal correlations of pixel intensities will be developed and used for a range of biophysical experiments on living systems (cells, tissues organisms).


  • Ulrich Nienhaus – Additional Topic (Karlsruhe)

  • Light sheet microscopy with single molecule localization-based super-resolution: Light sheet microscopy (LSM) is a fluorescence microscopy variant with key advantages for 3D imaging of optically thick biological specimens. Light sheet engineering with adaptive optics (“lattice light sheets”) yields unprecedented image quality. In this research, the hardware and software of our custom-designed (LSM) apparatus will be further refined to enable a robust implementation of localization microscopy-based super-resolution. Then, this methodology will be applied in biophysical experiments on living systems (cells, tissues, organisms).


  • Vladislav Yakovlev (München)

  • The coupling of physics and photonics for the development of new technologies, applicable for bio-medical sciences. Leveraging the controlled electric field transients available at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optic, that push the limits of current laser technology, to achieve temporal confinement of the ionization of molecular systems, we aim for complete temporal separation between the excitation and the resulting radiation. We are investigating the effects of rapidly removing an electron from a molecule using an impulse-like intense laser field and studying the radiation emitted from the resulting molecular ion, within the IR, mid-IR and THz spectral ranges. This work should have impact within the fields of THz science, spectroscopy, and bio-medical sciences.


  • Nicolas Joly - Generation of entangled photons with extreme wavelengths separation (Erlangen)

  • Generation of entangled photons with extreme wavelengths separation. The goal of this project is the generation of entangled photon pairs with the signal and idler photons separated in frequency by more than three octaves, one of them being in the UV range and the other in the IR range of spectrum. By contrast to conventional source of entangled pairs of photons based on crystal with second order susceptibility, we plan to use four-wave mixing in gas-filled hollow-core fibres. In such a scheme signal and idler wavelengths are generated symmetrically. The potential applications of such a source are imaging and spectroscopy “with undetected photons”. Due to “induced coherence”, one can perform imaging or spectroscopy of any material at the frequency of one photon by looking at the photon entangled to it, which can be at a very different frequency. These methods allow one to access ‘difficult’ spectral ranges like middle infrared (MIR) and terahertz.

  • Matthias Kling - Attosecond imaging and spectroscopy of light-induced dynamics in molecules and nanostructures (München)

  • We are interested in ultrafast correlated and collective electron dynamics that unfold when complex materials are exposed to intense, ultrashort laser fields. In particular this includes the attosecond control and tracing of strongly coupled electron-nuclear dynamics in quantum systems such as molecules, and of collective electron dynamics in nanostructured materials, and lightwave-driven petahertz (nano)electronics. We develop and use multi-dimensional imaging techniques in conjunction with (attosecond) pump-probe experiments to gain detailed insight into the dynamics from the interaction of these materials with near-single cycle laser fields of typically attosecond to femtosecond duration. We actively push the theoretical modeling of the rather complex multi-charge dynamics, which are partly carried out in our group using Monte-Carlo simulations with more intricate models within collaborations.


  • Vladislav Yakovlev (München)

  • The coupling of physics and photonics for the development of new technologies, applicable for bio-medical sciences. Leveraging the controlled electric field transients available at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optic, that push the limits of current laser technology, to achieve temporal confinement of the ionization of molecular systems, we aim for complete temporal separation between the excitation and the resulting radiation. We are investigating the effects of rapidly removing an electron from a molecule using an impulse-like intense laser field and studying the radiation emitted from the resulting molecular ion, within the IR, mid-IR and THz spectral ranges. This work should have impact within the fields of THz science, spectroscopy, and bio-medical sciences.

  • Stefan W. Hell - Far-Field Optical Imaging at Molecular Resolution (Göttingen)

  • New concepts have radically overcome the longstanding limits to optical analysis of molecular systems. Optical resolutions of a few nano¬meters have been demonstrated, well beyond Abbe’s diffraction limit, for example with the recent MINFLUX concept (Science 355, 606-612 (2017)). This opens up entirely new experimental opportunities, breaking new ground in the study of macromolecules and beyond. The successful candidate will develop advanced optical instrumentation and investigate physical imaging conditions and resolution performance. Alternatively, a related project involving theoretical optical analysis and modelling can be offered. The candidate should have (or expect to complete soon) a Master’s or equivalent degree in Physics or Physical Chemistry or a comparable qualification.


  • David Hunger - Label-free single-molecule sensing with open-access microcavities (Karlsruhe)

  • The detection and characterization of individual non-fluorescent nanosystems with high temporal resolution could provide new insights into their intrinsic properties and dynamics. To achieve the high sensitivity required for studying individual unlabelled nanosystems in solution, we use signal enhancement in a fiber-based Fabry-Perot microcavity, which is integrated into a microfluidic channel. The presence and dynamics of a nanoobject in the tight focus of the cavity mode can be detected e.g. via the dispersive light-matter interaction and the resulting cavity frequency shift. Within the PhD project, measurement techniques shall be developed that achieve the sensitivity to reveal the Brownian motion of few-10-nm large nanoobjects at high temporal resolution. The goal is to investigate the polarizability of biologically relevant nanosystems and study their dynamical processes such as binding kinetics or folding dynamics.


  • Matthias Kling - Attosecond imaging and spectroscopy of light-induced dynamics in molecules and nanostructures (München)

  • We are interested in ultrafast correlated and collective electron dynamics that unfold when complex materials are exposed to intense, ultrashort laser fields. In particular this includes the attosecond control and tracing of strongly coupled electron-nuclear dynamics in quantum systems such as molecules, and of collective electron dynamics in nanostructured materials, and lightwave-driven petahertz (nano)electronics. We develop and use multi-dimensional imaging techniques in conjunction with (attosecond) pump-probe experiments to gain detailed insight into the dynamics from the interaction of these materials with near-single cycle laser fields of typically attosecond to femtosecond duration. We actively push the theoretical modeling of the rather complex multi-charge dynamics, which are partly carried out in our group using Monte-Carlo simulations with more intricate models within collaborations.


  • Ulrich Nienhaus - Advancing STED nanoscopy-based tools for live cell dynamics (Karlsruhe)

  • STED nanoscopy for 3D imaging of cellular dynamics: Stimulated emission depletion (STED) nanoscopy is a super-resolution fluorescence imaging technique to study biomolecular interactions in living systems at the highest possible temporal and spatial resolution. In this research, STED nanoscopy-based instrumentation will be advanced through implementation of ultrafast laser beam scanners and adaptive optics for suppression of aberrations. Moreover, novel data analysis tools based on single particle tracking and spatial/temporal correlations of pixel intensities will be developed and used for a range of biophysical experiments on living systems (cells, tissues organisms).


  • Ulrich Nienhaus – Additional Topic (Karlsruhe)

  • Light sheet microscopy with single molecule localization-based super-resolution: Light sheet microscopy (LSM) is a fluorescence microscopy variant with key advantages for 3D imaging of optically thick biological specimens. Light sheet engineering with adaptive optics (“lattice light sheets”) yields unprecedented image quality. In this research, the hardware and software of our custom-designed (LSM) apparatus will be further refined to enable a robust implementation of localization microscopy-based super-resolution. Then, this methodology will be applied in biophysical experiments on living systems (cells, tissues, organisms).


  • Stefan Nolte - Spin-orbit photonics in inhomogeneous anisotropic media (Jena)

  • In standard photonics light propagation is dictated by the refractive index gradient: photons behave as massive quantum particles under the action of a potential equal to the refractive index. Nonetheless, the behavior of photons can be far more complex, especially in the presence of exotic light-matter interaction. Here we aim to investigate the strong interaction between the spin (i.e., the light polarization) and the orbital (i.e., the wave vector) occurring when photons propagate in inhomogeneous anisotropic materials. In this regime light evolution recalls the propagation of charged particles in a magnetic field, and new effects are observed due to the gradients in the Pancharatnam-Berry phase. The fundamental nature and possible applications of spin-orbit phenomena will be both pursued, in the linear and nonlinear regime, including materials such as liquid crystals, light-written nanogratings in glass, two-photon polymerized structures and biased nanoguides in Lithium Niobate.


  • Thomas Pertsch - Nanoscale photon control for next generation ultrafast integrated quantum systems (Jena)

  • Nanoscale photon control for next generation ultrafast integrated quantum systems: We are looking for talented candidates, who are sharing the enthusiasm for nanoscale quantum photonics with us. This research field, with its multiple challenges in fundamental physics, quantitative modelling of complex multiphysics problems, nanotechnology, and experimental physics, is an ideal area for qualification of young scientists seeking career opportunities at the forefront of science & research. A PhD project in this field would involve the design, technological realization, and experimental characterization of nonlinear photonic nanostructures for photonic quantum state generation and detection. Besides curiosity-driven fundamental research in nanophotonics, the work would incorporate connections to application-driven projects for quantum imaging and sensing.


  • Thomas Pertsch – Additional Topic (Jena)

  • Nanostructured photonic metamaterials: Photonic metamaterials are a novel class of artificial matter consisting of unit cells, which are derived from sophisticated nanotechnologies and which have a mesoscopic size smaller than the wavelength of light. Metamaterials promise to obtain complete control over all classical and quantum-optical properties characterizing light propagation. By designing the metamaterials´ unit cells one can tailor the linear and nonlinear light propagation in such media beyond the limits given by natural occurring materials. A PhD project in this field would evolve along the lines of simulation-based design of metamaterials, their practical realization using state-of-the-art nanolithography-based technologies, as well as their experimental characterization to close the loop for application-oriented optimization of resulting electromagnetic parameters.


  • Carsten Rockstuhl - Theoretical and Numerical Nanooptics (Karlsruhe)

  • We study by analytical and numerical means the interaction of light in the linear, nonlinear, and quantum regime with nanostructured materials such as metals, semiconductors, dielectrics, or also molecular materials and explore applications thereof with different partners. Referential examples for such applications are, e.g., in the field of wave front shaping in integrated optical systems or for quantum sensing devices. We have activities in the field of plasmonics, optical nanoantannas, metamaterials and metasurfaces, computational material design (also known as solving the inverse problem), and quantum optics at the nanoscale in place and are currently seeking a PhD student to reinforce our team.

  • Stefan W. Hell - Far-Field Optical Imaging at Molecular Resolution (Göttingen)

  • New concepts have radically overcome the longstanding limits to optical analysis of molecular systems. Optical resolutions of a few nano¬meters have been demonstrated, well beyond Abbe’s diffraction limit, for example with the recent MINFLUX concept (Science 355, 606-612 (2017)). This opens up entirely new experimental opportunities, breaking new ground in the study of macromolecules and beyond. The successful candidate will develop advanced optical instrumentation and investigate physical imaging conditions and resolution performance. Alternatively, a related project involving theoretical optical analysis and modelling can be offered. The candidate should have (or expect to complete soon) a Master’s or equivalent degree in Physics or Physical Chemistry or a comparable qualification.


  • Ulrich Nienhaus - Advancing STED nanoscopy-based tools for live cell dynamics (Karlsruhe)

  • STED nanoscopy for 3D imaging of cellular dynamics: Stimulated emission depletion (STED) nanoscopy is a super-resolution fluorescence imaging technique to study biomolecular interactions in living systems at the highest possible temporal and spatial resolution. In this research, STED nanoscopy-based instrumentation will be advanced through implementation of ultrafast laser beam scanners and adaptive optics for suppression of aberrations. Moreover, novel data analysis tools based on single particle tracking and spatial/temporal correlations of pixel intensities will be developed and used for a range of biophysical experiments on living systems (cells, tissues organisms).


  • Ulrich Nienhaus – Additional Topic (Karlsruhe)

  • Light sheet microscopy with single molecule localization-based super-resolution: Light sheet microscopy (LSM) is a fluorescence microscopy variant with key advantages for 3D imaging of optically thick biological specimens. Light sheet engineering with adaptive optics (“lattice light sheets”) yields unprecedented image quality. In this research, the hardware and software of our custom-designed (LSM) apparatus will be further refined to enable a robust implementation of localization microscopy-based super-resolution. Then, this methodology will be applied in biophysical experiments on living systems (cells, tissues, organisms).


  • Thomas Pertsch - Nanoscale photon control for next generation ultrafast integrated quantum systems (Jena)

  • Nanoscale photon control for next generation ultrafast integrated quantum systems: We are looking for talented candidates, who are sharing the enthusiasm for nanoscale quantum photonics with us. This research field, with its multiple challenges in fundamental physics, quantitative modelling of complex multiphysics problems, nanotechnology, and experimental physics, is an ideal area for qualification of young scientists seeking career opportunities at the forefront of science & research. A PhD project in this field would involve the design, technological realization, and experimental characterization of nonlinear photonic nanostructures for photonic quantum state generation and detection. Besides curiosity-driven fundamental research in nanophotonics, the work would incorporate connections to application-driven projects for quantum imaging and sensing.


  • Thomas Pertsch – Additional Topic (Jena)

  • Nanostructured photonic metamaterials: Photonic metamaterials are a novel class of artificial matter consisting of unit cells, which are derived from sophisticated nanotechnologies and which have a mesoscopic size smaller than the wavelength of light. Metamaterials promise to obtain complete control over all classical and quantum-optical properties characterizing light propagation. By designing the metamaterials´ unit cells one can tailor the linear and nonlinear light propagation in such media beyond the limits given by natural occurring materials. A PhD project in this field would evolve along the lines of simulation-based design of metamaterials, their practical realization using state-of-the-art nanolithography-based technologies, as well as their experimental characterization to close the loop for application-oriented optimization of resulting electromagnetic parameters.

  • Stefan W. Hell - Far-Field Optical Imaging at Molecular Resolution (Göttingen)

  • New concepts have brought about a paradigm shift in the physical limits to optical analysis of molecular systems. Imaging resolutions of a few nanometers have been demonstrated, well beyond the Abbe/Rayleigh limits. The recently demonstrated MINFLUX concept (Science 355, 606-612 (2017)) outlines a path to further improved minimally invasive, low-light-level analysis, in principle down to Ångström length scales. This will open up entirely new experimental opportunities in the study of macromolecules and beyond. The successful candidate(s) will develop physical measurement schemes based on MINFLUX and related concepts to analyze molecular systems at highest resolution. Candidates should be highly motivated and prepared to work within a truly multidisciplinary team. They should have (or expect to complete soon) a Masters or equivalent degree in Physics or Physical Chemistry or a comparable qualification. A willingness to master challenges in optical design, computer-driven experimental control and data analysis and, crucially, in-depth study of a problem by critical thinking and dedicated physical simulation are all central to success.


  • Herbert Gross (Jena)

  • The optical design is usually creating new optical systems by numerical optimization. The used algorithms are mostly purely mathematical working local or global tools without incorporating optical understanding of correction. The control of this procedure needs a large experience. Nowadays many modern methods are proposed to optimize by KI or ML means. Unfortunately only very few data are available to let these algorithms learn and the performance evaluation is not trivial. The idea of this research topic is to combine basic rules and methods of correction and aberration theory with modern optimization approaches using bio-inspired ideas to come to a tool, which works more automatic. All available algorithms today are only changing numbers of continuous or discrete variables. One more goal of this topic is to allow also for structural changes inside a system, if the optimization indicates, that this is necessary. This means, the decision about the lens number, the use of aspheres etc. is done by the algorithm.


  • Andreas Tünnermann – Nonlinear Quantum Optics & Applied Quantum Information Processing (Jena)

  • Quantum technology is a dynamic field in modern applied research in the field of laser physics. Two very fruitful branches are quantum communication via quantum key distribution (QKD) and quantum-enhanced imaging. Both fields rest upon photon-pair or multi-photon sources with very hard requirements on brightness, spectral range, and entanglement fidelity. Additionally, for useful practical application, such sources need to be ultra-stable, compact, and field-deployable. The task will be to work on the development and engineering of laser based sources of entangled photons with outstanding performance. In doing so, novel concepts besides spontaneous parametric down conversion (SPDC) in non-linear crystals should be followed and evaluated. Moreover, the sources shall be further harnessed to implement both novel QKD and quantum imaging schemes. For the challenge of miniaturization, this work will drive the replacement of macroscopic setups by photonic integrated circuits.

  • Stefan Nolte - Spin-orbit photonics in inhomogeneous anisotropic media (Jena)

  • In standard photonics light propagation is dictated by the refractive index gradient: photons behave as massive quantum particles under the action of a potential equal to the refractive index. Nonetheless, the behavior of photons can be far more complex, especially in the presence of exotic light-matter interaction. Here we aim to investigate the strong interaction between the spin (i.e., the light polarization) and the orbital (i.e., the wave vector) occurring when photons propagate in inhomogeneous anisotropic materials. In this regime light evolution recalls the propagation of charged particles in a magnetic field, and new effects are observed due to the gradients in the Pancharatnam-Berry phase. The fundamental nature and possible applications of spin-orbit phenomena will be both pursued, in the linear and nonlinear regime, including materials such as liquid crystals, light-written nanogratings in glass, two-photon polymerized structures and biased nanoguides in Lithium Niobate.


  • Christine Silberhorn (Paderborn)

  • High-dimensional quantum key distribution (HDQKD) promises an increase in both the security and secret key rates by going beyond a traditional qubit encoding. This excludes the use of polarization and - if we additionally require compatibility with integrated optics - spatial encodings. Information can be encoded in the time-frequency domain. Our group has shown that a quantum pulse gate (QPG) implements projective measurements onto arbitrary time-frequency bases. Yet, the current device design is limited to only one single measurement outcome; a limitation that makes it unsuitable for HDQKD. The goal of this project is to implement a multi-outcome QPG for time-frequency HDQKD with more than 10 dimensions. The research strategy will combine nonlinearity engineering, resonant structures, and temporal multiplexing, and will yield a high-performing plug-and-play device that is compatible with single-mode fibre.


  • Andreas Tünnermann – Nonlinear Quantum Optics & Applied Quantum Information Processing (Jena)

  • Quantum technology is a dynamic field in modern applied research in the field of laser physics. Two very fruitful branches are quantum communication via quantum key distribution (QKD) and quantum-enhanced imaging. Both fields rest upon photon-pair or multi-photon sources with very hard requirements on brightness, spectral range, and entanglement fidelity. Additionally, for useful practical application, such sources need to be ultra-stable, compact, and field-deployable. The task will be to work on the development and engineering of laser based sources of entangled photons with outstanding performance. In doing so, novel concepts besides spontaneous parametric down conversion (SPDC) in non-linear crystals should be followed and evaluated. Moreover, the sources shall be further harnessed to implement both novel QKD and quantum imaging schemes. For the challenge of miniaturization, this work will drive the replacement of macroscopic setups by photonic integrated circuits.

  • Maria Chekhova (Erlangen)

  • Third-order parametric down-conversion. The goal is to experimentally observe a new nonlinear optical effect: direct decay of a photon in three, the inverse to the third harmonic generation. This effect, called third-order parametric down-conversion, is an upgrade of spontaneous parametric down-conversion (SPDC). Meanwhile, it is far more unusual and interesting than SPDC: it results in quantum states of light with negative Wigner functions and it offers a realization of a cubic quantum gate, highly demanded in quantum information. Despite many theoretical works and several experimental attempts with nonlinear crystals, waveguides, and fibers, it has been not observed so far. In this PhD project the concept is to use a new class of materials, namely ultrathin layers with giant cubic nonlinearities (semiconductors, chalcogenide glass, ENZ) where phase matching will be not needed.


  • Maria Chekhova – Additional Toppic (Erlangen)

  • Loss-tolerant quantum imaging with twin beams. One of the ways to enhance signal-to-noise ratio in imaging is to illuminate an object with twin beams, for which the photon numbers are correlated. Such twin beams are produced at the output of a nonlinear crystal through high-gain parametric down-conversion. However, this technique is useless if the detection efficiency is not extremely high. The project aims at further developing this technique by adding phase sensitive parametric amplification of the image, which will make the imaging tolerant to any loss and therefore suitable for ‘difficult’ spectral ranges like IR and terahertz.


  • Nicolas Joly - Generation of entangled photons with extreme wavelengths separation (Erlangen)

  • Generation of entangled photons with extreme wavelengths separation. The goal of this project is the generation of entangled photon pairs with the signal and idler photons separated in frequency by more than three octaves, one of them being in the UV range and the other in the IR range of spectrum. By contrast to conventional source of entangled pairs of photons based on crystal with second order susceptibility, we plan to use four-wave mixing in gas-filled hollow-core fibres. In such a scheme signal and idler wavelengths are generated symmetrically. The potential applications of such a source are imaging and spectroscopy “with undetected photons”. Due to “induced coherence”, one can perform imaging or spectroscopy of any material at the frequency of one photon by looking at the photon entangled to it, which can be at a very different frequency. These methods allow one to access ‘difficult’ spectral ranges like middle infrared (MIR) and terahertz.


  • David Hunger - Realization of quantum nodes with rare earth ions in optical microcavities (Karlsruhe)

  • Realization of quantum nodes with rare earth ions in optical microcavities: Rare earth ions doped into crystalline solids can show exceptional optical and hyperfine coherence, which makes them promising candidates for quantum optical applications ranging from quantum memories to quantum computing and sensing. The project will contribute to our activity on the efficient optical detection and quantum control of individual ions to realize optically addressable qubit registers. We use fiber-based microcavities to enhance optical transitions and high-resolution spectroscopy for selective addressing of ions.



  • Stefan Nolte - Spin-orbit photonics in inhomogeneous anisotropic media (Jena)

  • In standard photonics light propagation is dictated by the refractive index gradient: photons behave as massive quantum particles under the action of a potential equal to the refractive index. Nonetheless, the behavior of photons can be far more complex, especially in the presence of exotic light-matter interaction. Here we aim to investigate the strong interaction between the spin (i.e., the light polarization) and the orbital (i.e., the wave vector) occurring when photons propagate in inhomogeneous anisotropic materials. In this regime light evolution recalls the propagation of charged particles in a magnetic field, and new effects are observed due to the gradients in the Pancharatnam-Berry phase. The fundamental nature and possible applications of spin-orbit phenomena will be both pursued, in the linear and nonlinear regime, including materials such as liquid crystals, light-written nanogratings in glass, two-photon polymerized structures and biased nanoguides in Lithium Niobate.


  • Thomas Pertsch - Nanoscale photon control for next generation ultrafast integrated quantum systems (Jena)

  • Nanoscale photon control for next generation ultrafast integrated quantum systems: We are looking for talented candidates, who are sharing the enthusiasm for nanoscale quantum photonics with us. This research field, with its multiple challenges in fundamental physics, quantitative modelling of complex multiphysics problems, nanotechnology, and experimental physics, is an ideal area for qualification of young scientists seeking career opportunities at the forefront of science & research. A PhD project in this field would involve the design, technological realization, and experimental characterization of nonlinear photonic nanostructures for photonic quantum state generation and detection. Besides curiosity-driven fundamental research in nanophotonics, the work would incorporate connections to application-driven projects for quantum imaging and sensing.


  • Thomas Pertsch – Additional Topic (Jena)

  • Nanostructured photonic metamaterials: Photonic metamaterials are a novel class of artificial matter consisting of unit cells, which are derived from sophisticated nanotechnologies and which have a mesoscopic size smaller than the wavelength of light. Metamaterials promise to obtain complete control over all classical and quantum-optical properties characterizing light propagation. By designing the metamaterials´ unit cells one can tailor the linear and nonlinear light propagation in such media beyond the limits given by natural occurring materials. A PhD project in this field would evolve along the lines of simulation-based design of metamaterials, their practical realization using state-of-the-art nanolithography-based technologies, as well as their experimental characterization to close the loop for application-oriented optimization of resulting electromagnetic parameters.


  • Andreas Tünnermann – Nonlinear Quantum Optics & Applied Quantum Information Processing (Jena)

  • Quantum technology is a dynamic field in modern applied research in the field of laser physics. Two very fruitful branches are quantum communication via quantum key distribution (QKD) and quantum-enhanced imaging. Both fields rest upon photon-pair or multi-photon sources with very hard requirements on brightness, spectral range, and entanglement fidelity. Additionally, for useful practical application, such sources need to be ultra-stable, compact, and field-deployable. The task will be to work on the development and engineering of laser based sources of entangled photons with outstanding performance. In doing so, novel concepts besides spontaneous parametric down conversion (SPDC) in non-linear crystals should be followed and evaluated. Moreover, the sources shall be further harnessed to implement both novel QKD and quantum imaging schemes. For the challenge of miniaturization, this work will drive the replacement of macroscopic setups by photonic integrated circuits.


  • Christine Silberhorn (Paderborn)

  • Future progress in the development in the emerging field of optical quantum technologies requires compact and miniaturized solutions for quantum circuits. Lithium niobate is proven to be a well-established material platform for numerous integrated quantum optical circuits. Recent progress in the technology for the fabrication of specifically tailored domain patterns with ultra-short poling periods will complement the portfolio of integrated functional elements in LiNbO3 for quantum applications. This project aims on the development of integrated nonlinear optical and electro-optical devices exploiting counter-propagating interactions in periodically poled waveguides with ultra-short poling periods. Among them can be photon-pair sources for the generation of decorrelated quantum states and electro-optically tuneable mirrors and polarization converters.


  • Christine Silberhorn – Additional Topic (Paderborn)
  • High-dimensional quantum key distribution (HDQKD) promises an increase in both the security and secret key rates by going beyond a traditional qubit encoding. This excludes the use of polarization and - if we additionally require compatibility with integrated optics - spatial encodings. Information can be encoded in the time-frequency domain. Our group has shown that a quantum pulse gate (QPG) implements projective measurements onto arbitrary time-frequency bases. Yet, the current device design is limited to only one single measurement outcome; a limitation that makes it unsuitable for HDQKD. The goal of this project is to implement a multi-outcome QPG for time-frequency HDQKD with more than 10 dimensions. The research strategy will combine nonlinearity engineering, resonant structures, and temporal multiplexing, and will yield a high-performing plug-and-play device that is compatible with single-mode fibre.

  • Matthias Kling - Attosecond imaging and spectroscopy of light-induced dynamics in molecules and nanostructures (München)
  • We are interested in ultrafast correlated and collective electron dynamics that unfold when complex materials are exposed to intense, ultrashort laser fields. In particular this includes the attosecond control and tracing of strongly coupled electron-nuclear dynamics in quantum systems such as molecules, and of collective electron dynamics in nanostructured materials, and lightwave-driven petahertz (nano)electronics. We develop and use multi-dimensional imaging techniques in conjunction with (attosecond) pump-probe experiments to gain detailed insight into the dynamics from the interaction of these materials with near-single cycle laser fields of typically attosecond to femtosecond duration. We actively push the theoretical modeling of the rather complex multi-charge dynamics, which are partly carried out in our group using Monte-Carlo simulations with more intricate models within collaborations.


  • Vladislav Yakovlev - Theory of attosecond metrology in solids and nanoscale objects (München)

  • All electronic devices are based on the coupled dynamics of charge carriers and electromagnetic fields. This synchronous motion has enabled many great advances in technology, from computing to telecommunications. How far are these technologies from their fundamental limits? We use both experiment and theory to find it out. Our research is centered upon this fundamental question: how to advance our ability to induce, control, and monitor charge-carrier dynamics with light? The Laboratory of Attosecond Physics specializes in the generation of precisely controlled light pulses in different spectral regions, from infrared to ultraviolet. The extraordinary degree of control over light, offered by our state-of-the-art laser sources, enables us to explore light-matter interaction taking place within a fraction of an oscillation cycle of a visible light field. Investigating such extremely fast processes, we pursue the vision of petahertz-scale optoelectronic signal processing.


  • Vladislav Yakovlev – Additional Topic (München)

  • The coupling of physics and photonics for the development of new technologies, applicable for bio-medical sciences. Leveraging the controlled electric field transients available at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optic, that push the limits of current laser technology, to achieve temporal confinement of the ionization of molecular systems, we aim for complete temporal separation between the excitation and the resulting radiation. We are investigating the effects of rapidly removing an electron from a molecule using an impulse-like intense laser field and studying the radiation emitted from the resulting molecular ion, within the IR, mid-IR and THz spectral ranges. This work should have impact within the fields of THz science, spectroscopy, and bio-medical sciences.



  • Vladislav Yakovlev (München)

  • The coupling of physics and photonics for the development of new technologies, applicable for bio-medical sciences. Leveraging the controlled electric field transients available at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optic, that push the limits of current laser technology, to achieve temporal confinement of the ionization of molecular systems, we aim for complete temporal separation between the excitation and the resulting radiation. We are investigating the effects of rapidly removing an electron from a molecule using an impulse-like intense laser field and studying the radiation emitted from the resulting molecular ion, within the IR, mid-IR and THz spectral ranges. This work should have impact within the fields of THz science, spectroscopy, and bio-medical sciences.


  • Matthias Kling - Attosecond imaging and spectroscopy of light-induced dynamics in molecules and nanostructures (München)

  • We are interested in ultrafast correlated and collective electron dynamics that unfold when complex materials are exposed to intense, ultrashort laser fields. In particular this includes the attosecond control and tracing of strongly coupled electron-nuclear dynamics in quantum systems such as molecules, and of collective electron dynamics in nanostructured materials, and lightwave-driven petahertz (nano)electronics. We develop and use multi-dimensional imaging techniques in conjunction with (attosecond) pump-probe experiments to gain detailed insight into the dynamics from the interaction of these materials with near-single cycle laser fields of typically attosecond to femtosecond duration. We actively push the theoretical modeling of the rather complex multi-charge dynamics, which are partly carried out in our group using Monte-Carlo simulations with more intricate models within collaborations.


  • Matthias Kling - Attosecond imaging and spectroscopy of light-induced dynamics in molecules and nanostructures (München)

  • We are interested in ultrafast correlated and collective electron dynamics that unfold when complex materials are exposed to intense, ultrashort laser fields. In particular this includes the attosecond control and tracing of strongly coupled electron-nuclear dynamics in quantum systems such as molecules, and of collective electron dynamics in nanostructured materials, and lightwave-driven petahertz (nano)electronics. We develop and use multi-dimensional imaging techniques in conjunction with (attosecond) pump-probe experiments to gain detailed insight into the dynamics from the interaction of these materials with near-single cycle laser fields of typically attosecond to femtosecond duration. We actively push the theoretical modeling of the rather complex multi-charge dynamics, which are partly carried out in our group using Monte-Carlo simulations with more intricate models within collaborations.


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