Low Temperature Physics

Research Activity

We perform experiments on superfluids and other materials with applications in areas such as nanoelectronics, cosmology and turbulence.

The group has a strong international reputation for performing state-of-the-art experiments at the lowest achievable temperatures. Our custom made dilution refrigerators, built in-house, achieve world-record low temperatures. We have pioneered several innovative approaches, including:

  • 'Lancaster-style' demagnetisation stages to cool superfluid helium-3 to record low temperatures
  • 'heat-flush' procedures to produce highly purified helium-4
  • ion transport measurement methods for quantum fluids
  • novel NMR systems
  • various mechanical oscillator techniques which provide extremely sensitive thermometry and bolometry at microkelvin temperatures

We are well known for providing these sub-millikelvin low temperature environments with advanced in-house cryogenic engineering, and for our accompanying expertise in ultra-sensitive measurement techniques and the development of specialised instrumentation.

Creating, controlling and exploiting the ultra-low temperature environment has proven crucial for the research and development of quantum-enhanced devices. Our platform technology provides the extreme cold and isolation necessary to probe the subtle quantum behaviours that are otherwise hidden by thermal fluctuations or external disturbance.

We have a broad research portfolio in low temperature physics and specialise in quantum fluids and solids research. We have performed ground-breaking analysis on numerous topics, including

  • superfluid analogues of cosmological processes
  • ion and vortex ring dynamics
  • ballistic quasiparticle beams
  • exotic superfluid spin phenomena
  • superfluid phase nucleation
  • phase boundary dynamics
  • wave turbulence
  • quantum turbulence

Key Research

  • Cooling and sensitive measurement techniques
  • Quantum fluids and solids
  • Superfluid 3He
  • Superfluid 4He
  • Properties of materials at ultra-low temperatures
  • MEMS and NEMS devices at low temperatures
  • Extremely cold devices and associated quantum technologies
  • Development of sensitive measurement techniques

PhD Opportunities


Postgraduate Training

We run training sessions for postgraduate students throughout the year, covering both specific low temperature technology and more general research skills.

You can also attend a series of lectures jointly organised with the University of Manchester. These will allow you to meet students from other institutions, as well as being taught new material that may be of use to you in future years.

The nature of the training is dependent on your project requirements and the skills you will need to make progress in your work. You will engage in a continual discussion with us to ensure that we provide the most relevant and practical training. The Faculty of Science and Technology, ISS, and the Library offer additional training.

You will receive training in a wide range of formats on topics of interest to your project:

  • North West England Solid State lectures organised by Manchester and Lancaster universities
  • Physics of superfluids and superconductors
  • Essential cryogenic safety and safe handling of cryogenic liquids
  • Operation of sophisticated low temperature refrigeration equipment
  • Fabrication of NEMs and MEMs devices
  • Experimental instrumentation design and construction
  • Innovative measurement techniques
  • Data acquisition techniques
  • Data analysis and computer-based simulation techniques
  • Preparation of manuscripts, posters and oral presentations

You could attend a variety of scientific conferences, allowing you to present your work. If necessary, you will receive additional support and advice on the preparation of posters and oral presentations. You also have the chance to develop their presentation skills via participation in the Department’s public understanding of physics outreach programme.

New tutorials, workshops and conferences include: