A number of undergraduate research projects will be offered within Atomic & Laser Physics, as described below.

Students working on these projects will be paid at the Oxford Living Wage (currently £10.50 per hour and subject to tax and National Insurance deductions). The projects may vary in duration and in the number of hours required per week.



Undergraduate research projects are available to: (i) current undergraduates; and (ii) students on taught Masters courses. Preference is likely to be given to candidates who are not due to start a PhD programme in 2022.

Applications are very welcome from students of universities and institutes outside Oxford.

Please note that we are only able to accept applications from candidates who do not require a visa to work in the UK. For the avoidance of doubt, EU students currently studying in the UK who have applied for Pre-Settled status are welcome to apply along with current students in the UK on a Tier 4 visa that allows vacation employment.

How to apply

To apply for these projects please email a single PDF document to alpadmin@physics.ox.ac.uk

This document should contain:

  1. a statement (of fewer than 500 words) explaining why you want to do a project, describing previous experience, and stating the research topics or projects you are interested in; 
  2. a one page CV;
  3. names of two referees who may be approached for reference letters;

Candidates are advised to submit their applications by the advised closing date. Applications received after this date may be considered, but candidates should be aware that projects may already have been allocated.

Projects offered

Channel formation using multiple pathfinder pulses

Supervisor(s): Prof Peter Norreys
Project Duration (weeks): 5 - 10 weeks
Closing date: Friday 29th April

We have shown in previous particle-in-cell simulations that in a plasma with an exponential density profile, a high intensity laser pulse will separate into an unstable section and a smaller, smoothly propagating "pathfinder pulse" travelling at the group velocity. The aim of this computational physics project is to study aspects of this pathfinder pulse, such as its apparent resistance to various instabilities, the evolution of the pulse as it propagates through the plasma, and how the energy and size of the pulse vary with laser and plasma parameters. Existing simulation data indicates that the evolution of the pathfinder pulse is heavily influenced by self-modulated laser wakefields, and that such modulation is stable across a range of temperatures, intensities and plasma gradients. These wakefield oscillations then appear to form new plasma channels, and so raise the possibility of seeding a plasma with similar pulses to create channels. The interaction of these channels with each other forms a rich and novel field of study, with applications to both astrophysics and to fusion plasmas.

Students are expected to work with the latest supercomputers - the SCARF facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the ARCHER2 National Supercomputer at the University of Edinburgh - and are expected to become familiar with Particle-in-Cell simulation tools. Previous experience of LINUX operating systems and visualisation tools is helpful, but not essential.

Learning Physics with Machine Intelligence

Supervisor(s): Prof Gianluca Gregori
Project Duration (weeks): 5 -10 weeks
Closing date: Friday 29th April

Description: The idea is to use machine learning tools to learn physical processes, such as those present in continuous mechanics or plasmas, with particular attention to those phenomena ruled by complex micro-physics, impractical to theoretical investigations, yet exhibiting emergent behavior describable by a closed mathematical expression. 


(The following projects were advertised from 1st March, with the closing date 25th March)

Experimental Ion Trap Quantum Computing

Supervisor(s): Prof David LucasDr Chris Ballance
Project Duration (weeks): 5 - 10 weeks

You will work in one of the labs of the Oxford Ion Trap Quantum Computing group, on research related to one of our experimental projects (see www.physics.ox.ac.uk/users/iontrap for details). Past summer students/interns have worked on a wide variety of projects, e.g. setting up optical systems for delivery of laser beams used to implement quantum logic gates; helping design cryogenic UHV (ultrahigh vacuum) systems; writing code to do numerical modelling of the atomic systems we use for our qubits. The specific project available will depend on what our needs are at the time. No prior knowledge is expected, but we do expect you to have an interest and willingness to "get your hands dirty" with lab work. Day-to-day guidance will be given by a PhD student or postdoctoral researcher.

Ultracold atom laboratory

Supervisor(s): Prof. Robert Smith
Project Duration (weeks): 5 - 10 weeks

The project will be based in our ultracold atom laboratory in which we cool erbium and potassium atoms down to nK temperatures to study many-body quantum phenomena. The details of the project you will be working on will depend on progress in the lab and will be finalised later but could involve design and construction of optical setups for cooling and trapping ultracold atoms, generation of custom magnetic fields for manipulation of atomic properties or numerical simulation of ultracold atom clouds.