A many-body quantum thermal machine with programmable arrays of single atoms

About this project

Project description

The unprecedented control of ultracold atoms at a quantum level make them an ideal testbed to study quantum thermal machines. It is possible to manipulate and control single-atom trapping potentials, system dimensionality, the strength of atomic interactions and even the number of atomic species. These wide-ranging control parameters allow the realisation of a variety of many-body states of matter exhibiting quantum correlations and coherences.

This theoretical PhD project will explore and develop protocols for utilising many-body coherence and entanglement to generate work from heat in single-atom arrays of ultracold atoms. Quantum thermal machines could offer quantum advantages in work extraction, such as going beyond the Carnot limit and extracting work from a single heat bath.

The experimental protocols designed as part of this PhD will be implemented and studied in the laboratory. IITD is building an experiment that will trap arrays of many single ultra-cold cesium atoms, each of which can be individually controlled and manipulated. Long-range interactions can be introduced into the array by exciting the atoms into Rydberg states. Interactions and the controlled application of dissipation and decoherence can be used to generate entanglement. The project will explore the role of interactions, dissipation and decoherence in the thermodynamics of atom arrays, and how these can be manipulated to obtain a quantum advantage in quantum thermal machines.

In addition to developing protocols to realise quantum thermal machines, the project offers scope to explore how quantum thermodynamics can be applied to other emerging quantum technology such as quantum computers and quantum sensors, and how classical thermodynamics arises in quantum many-body systems.


  • Protocols to utilise long-range interactions, measurement, and dissipation to realise entanglement.
  • Understand how to maximise the conversion of entanglement and quantum coherence into work.
  • Develop machine protocols demonstrating a quantum advantage that can be realised in the IITD laboratory.
  • A better understanding of how to utilise quantum many body systems to realise a quantum advantage for use in quantum technology and sensors.

Information for applicants

Essential capabilities

Motivated physics student with a passion for research, and an interest connecting theory and experiment.

Desireable capabilities

Strong background in quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, and computational physics. Previous research experience in ultracold atom physics is a bonus.

Expected qualifications (Course/Degrees etc.)

Honours or Masters degree in physics.

Additional information for applicants

note: i-students must have own scholarship to apply (CSIR, UCG-NET, etc)

Project supervisors

Principal supervisors

UQ Supervisor

Professor Matthew Davis

School of Mathematics and Physics
IITD Supervisor

Assistant professor Bodhaditya Santra

Department of Physics
Additional Supervisor

Dr Lewis Williamson

School of Mathematics and Physics