This scientific area plays a significant role in fundamental research as well as in a variety of hi-tech industry sectors including oil field exploration and quantum computing. And it has become a magnet for the world’s best researchers in the field.

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The aim of this group is to develop technology essential for the creation of the next-generation of ultra-quiet suspended mirrors required for observation of quantum effects such as ground state cooling and optical and mechanical squeezing and entanglement, as well for the next-generation of upgrades to interferometric gravitational wave detectors.

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The aim of this group is to carry out interferometric measurements on macroscopic systems at and beyond the standard quantum limit. This activity will build on and further strengthen links between the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI) in Hannover and the Institute for Gravitational Research at the University of Glasgow (IGR). The desired outcomes are experimental tests of novel interferometric techniques (optical systems, readout methods) for application in future gravitational wave detectors, together with demonstration of quantum-mechanical behaviour in opto-mechanical systems at the 100g mass scale.

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The last decade has seen the development of optical techniques for the non-contact manipulation of microscopic objects such as bacterial and individual cells. Optical manipulation, or so-called optical tweezers, have been revolutionised by the use of spatial light modulators (SLM) to split a single laser into multiple beams to trap and move many cells simultaneously. Our design of holographic tweezers gives working distances of 20mm which is allowing us to configure the optical traps within a high-pressure, diamond windowed, anvil cell capable of reproducing inter-stellar pressures in the contained sample. The same basic configuration allows access to other non laboratory conditions, such as the possibility to try and trap micro-spheres at cryogenic temperatures.

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The possibility to probe and manipulate multi-particle quantum systems at the level of individual quantum particles has fundamental implications for the advancement of quantum metrology. The Experimental Quantum Optics Group at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and the Team at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching carry out cutting-edge experiments in which ultracold atoms are held in optical lattices for quantum simulation of quantum many-body systems and for quantum information processing. A particular feature of the experiments in Strathclyde and Garching is the possibility to address and manipulate individual atoms of an optical lattice with an ultra-high resolution optical microscope. This makes it possible to change and measure the spin state of each underlying quantum particle with single-atom resolution. Experiments at Strathclyde also involve the development of matter-wave interferometers for precision measurements.

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The study of quantum optics starts, naturally enough, with single mode fields such as are determined by a high-quality cavity. Most experiments, however, use light in propagation and so are, intrinsically, multi-mode or continuum mode. We require the ability to treat, quantum mechanically, multimode (longitudinal and transverse) fields and to incorporate real-world effects such as scattering and losses. This needs to be done, however, without introducing excessive complexity or losing physical insight. The Strathclyde Theoretical Quantum Optics group pioneered the study of quantum fields in realistic media and uses this expertise to extract the physics in experimentally relevant situations and to model them in detail.

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A benefit of setting up a broad collaboration is the opportunity to tackle problems that straddle different sub-fields of physics, using complementary materials and techniques. The aim of this group is to carry out investigation of strongly interacting electrons in ‘quantum critical’ materials. If a critical temperature of a continuous thermal phase transition is tuned towards T = 0 using a control parameter external to a many-body system, the result is a quantum critical point (QCP). At a QCP, the phase change is governed by quantum zero point fluctuations rather than the standard thermal ones, and entanglement is thought to be a key ingredient of the resultant quantum critical state.

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In this joint research effort, the aim is to explore supported model systems at the atomic scale to study electronic correlation, coherence and entanglement effects as a function of a continuously tunable interaction. These model systems have the benefit of usually being sufficiently simple to still describe them theoretically and test the relevant theoretical predictions on them.

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