Quantum control engineering with trapped ytterbium ions


The development of well-controlled quantum systems for computational purposes is one of the most promising avenues to unlock solutions to hard and often intractable problems in areas ranging from chemistry and materials science to physics.  

While much progress has been made over the last decades, further improvements to the performance of quantum operations are required to turn small proof-of-principle demonstrators into reliable quantum computers and simulators that produce results even in the presence of unavoidable noise perturbing the quantum system.  

In this project, we use the most advanced trapped-ion quantum computing platform in Australia to experimentally realize novel quantum control schemes that are specifically tailored to suppress noise in quantum operations, aiming to bridge the gap to near-term usefulness by combining quantum physics with control engineering approaches.

A complimentary scholarship for this project may be available through a competitive process. To find out more, refer to the Faculty of Science Postgraduate Research Excellence Award and contact Dr Cornelius Hempel directly.


Dr Cornelius Hempel, Professor Michael J. Biercuk

Research Location

School of Physics

Program Type



Classical electrical engineering uses a variety of techniques to characterize the time-domain evolution of control pulses and their corresponding representation in frequency space. This approach, known as the filter-function formalism, allows one to predict the performance and noise-susceptibility of control processes. In the quantum domain, a similar framework can be established and has been underpinning the research at the Quantum Control Laboratory for a number of years, yielding many contributions in both theory and experiment.  

Our experimental work is carried out using trapped ytterbium ions that encode quantum information in their internal hyperfine energy levels, which we manipulate using microwave and laser radiation. With phase coherence times beyond one second, ytterbium ions are among the best performing quantum bits available, offering a chance to work at the cutting-edge of what is technologically possible.  

This project will develop and use techniques to characterize both environmental noise and disturbances that are intrinsic to our control pulses. You will then craft special modulation sequences that change their frequency, amplitude and phase to suppress the detrimental effects of the noise and allow for an improved performance of the desired operation. 

Expected outcomes are both a full characterization of the error robustness of the augmented quantum operations as well as their use in a demonstration of superior performance in an application targeting a specific problem of interest, e.g. the experimental quantum simulation of chemical reaction.

Additional Information

This project requires experimental work in a laboratory, operating and controlling lasers as well as microwave systems and a broad range of electronics. Previous experience in any of those fields is welcome; interest in hands-on laboratory work is a requirement.  

A complimentary scholarship for this project may be available through a competitive process. To find out more, refer to the Faculty of Science Postgraduate Research Excellence Award and contact Dr Cornelius Hempel directly.

HDR Inherent Requirements   

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:   

  • Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree; 
  • Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
  • Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;  
  • Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);  
  • Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;  
  • Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);  
  • Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;  
  • Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);  
  • Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;  
  • Hold a current scuba diving license;  
  • Hold a current Working with Children Check;  
  • Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)   

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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quantum computation, Quantum Simulation, Quantum Control

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 2700

Other opportunities with Professor Michael J. Biercuk