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Public lecture at the Yorkshire Philosophical Society

9 March 2017

Dr Jiannis K. Pachos from the Theoretical Physics Group at the School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leeds, is giving a public lecture at the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, Tempest Anderson Hall, this coming Tuesday the 14th of March at 7:30 pm.


Can beautiful ideas also be useful?

— Decoding the mysteries of quantum mechanics

 Quantum physics fascinates scientists and the public alike.  Sometimes it is like a lens through which reality is viewed more clearly.  At other times we are still at odds with its fundamental properties.  Nevertheless, scientists already successfully employ quantum physics for technological applications, ranging from X-rays, lasers and MRI that transformed modern medicine to semiconductors that revolutionized computers.  Recently, it has been proposed to use the full power of quantum mechanics in the form of a quantum computer.  Can scientists learn how to use something that defies common logic?  Or do we need to understand quantum mechanics in a deeper level before any actual revolution is made in quantum technologies?

For more details see:

New postdoctoral researcher

1 February 2017

We are happy to welcome Alexios Michailidis who is joining the group after doing his PhD at University of Nottingham.

Alexios is working on many-body localisation and numerical simulations of quantum many-body systems using matrix-product states and tensor networks.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

22 December 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Photo: Theory group getting ready for Christmas party and playing shuffleboard.

PhD position available: "Quantum computing with photonic networks"

16 December 2016


Funded PhD position available for project on "Quantum computing with photonic networks" in close collaboration with the Oxford Quantum Technology Hub NQIT.


Please contact Almut Beige [] for more information.

PhD position: Photoactive molecular complexes

9 December 2016

Contact: Dr. Arend G. Dijkstra (

In our group, we use models to understand how molecular systems use light to function. These models are compared with state of the art optical experiments, which allow us to probe the fundamental motions of electrons and nuclei that take place on femtosecond to picosecond time scales. Inspiration for our work comes from biological systems. Our work uses mathematics and computer programming. The projects are suitable for chemistry, physics and mathematics graduates. The first project is about photosynthesis. How is the energy that is collected by plants and bacteria from sunlight transported? It turns out that answering this question requires a detailed description of the pigment molecules that interact with the light, as well as of the protein and solvent environment. In this project, you will build a new model of the energy transport mechanism. The model will be based on quantum mechanics of an electronic system interacting with vibrations. A main goal of the project is to accurately determine the parameters that describe real systems, from either simulation or comparison to experiment.


The second project is about photo switching. Some of the fastest events in biology occur within the eye. As in photosynthesis, electrons are excited by light absorption, However, in the primary step in vision the nuclear motion induced by electronic excitation is very large. Cis-trans isomerization in the rhodopsin molecule completely changes the structure. The system clearly explores parts of the potential energy surface far away from equilibrium, such that a harmonic description is completely invalid. This is also the case in man-made photo switches. This is a challenging regime for models that treat both the electronic and the nuclear motion under the influence of the protein environment. This project aims at developing a new theory to describe quantum decoherence and friction outside the harmonic approximation.



[1] Dijkstra, A. G. and Tanimura. Y., New J. Phys. 14, 073027 (2012);

[2] Prokhorenko, V. I., Picchiotti, A., Pola, M., Dijkstra, A. G. and Miller, R. J. D., J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 7, 4445 (2016);

[3] Dijkstra, A. G., Wang, C., Cao, J. and Fleming, G. R., J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 6, 627 (2015).

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