During the second year of my Master's studies, I started looking for PhD positions. With some online searching, I found an interesting position titled 'Design, fabrication and characterization of quantum encrypted communication (QKD) PICs for LEO satellites' funded by Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)
. MSCA funds the development of excellent doctoral and postdoctoral training programs and collaborative research projects worldwide.
This position was interesting to me because I have already worked with Photonic Integrated Circuits related simulations exhaustively during my masters, with a good grip on 'On-Chip Optical Communications'. It was a match!
The selection process was tough, but (eventually) enjoyable. I passed two rounds of online interviews: in the first one, I presented and defended my Master's work, and in the second one I answered some technical knowledge-based questions. I was interviewed by professors from Ghent University, DCU Ireland and a few industry experts. They asked question about Quantum coherent detection, some theoretical questions about pulsed lasers and presented a problem on quantum mechanics.
The news of my winning the fellowship came a few weeks later. I was in! The program sent a congratulatory email and hosted an online meeting to launch the program.
I will be working in collaboration with Ghent University Belgium, University of Vigo Spain and an Ireland-based company Embryonics. First I'll spend a few months in Spain and then move to Ghent University, Belgium.
Specifically, I will:
- design and prototype a quantum signal source (QKD Tx) to implement QKD protocols;
- develop a robust, low-power quantum random number generator that meets certain spatial specifications;
- develop and implement the electronics and algorithms necessary to obtain secret keys through QKD, capable of processing the information generated by the transmitter.