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Postgraduate research project

Experiments for testing gravity of small masses

Fully funded (UK and international)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Closing date

About the project

The University of Southampton is expanding its PhD research in the area of Quantum Technology Engineering. In addition to the research project outlined below you will receive substantial training in scientific, technical, and commercial skills.

You will join our ongoing effort for setting up two-mass (source mass and probe mass) experiments in low-noise settings for probing the inverse square law scaling for accelerations below 10-11 m/s2. Modifications of gravity, such as by new particles and interactions, predict deviations from Newton’s law and indeed the general relativistic scaling with distance. Gravity has never been tested in this regime and opposing theoretical predictions exist about what we might find in our experiments. 
One big question we aim to explore is how the gravity generated by a mass in spatial superposition actually looks like. We will probe gravity in a new regime for small acceleration and small source masses. Our experiments -which you will join- are using levitated mechanics, where optical, electric, or magnetic fields are used to trap nanometre to micrometre sized particles in vacuum, which are superb probes of gravity, and are optimised to reduce systemic effects.
We are looking for students with a keen interest in table-top gravity experiments on the boundary to quantum mechanics. Our experiments are notoriously pushing the boundaries of technical capabilities in a fundamental physics context and we are looking for motivated people who share such ambition.