The University of Sydney Nano Institute

Quantum control


The Quantum Control laboratories are situated on the western side of level 2 of the SNH and will occupy Lab A 2021, Lab A 2030 and Lab C 2017 on the plan as shown in figures below

location of Quantum Control labs at SNH

Quantum Control Laboratories on Level 2

Quantum Control Laboratories Floor Plan

Quantum Control Laboratories Floor Plan

The Quantum Control Laboratory Research Group is focused on the development of quantum control and metrology techniques. The research uses small collections of trapped atomic ions as model quantum coherent systems. Experimental tools used include laser-cooled Beryllium ions in a Penning trap, Ytterbium ions in a Paul trap, ultra-high-phase-stability microwave oscillators, specialty UV lasers, and a toolkit of novel control protocols.

Michael Biercuk is the head of the Quantum Control Laboratory Research Group. There are approximately 17 other individuals in the Research Group consisting of staff, honours students, PhD students, undergraduates, and an administration officer.


The Quantum Control Laboratory uses a range of equipment which poses several significant hazards to personnel working in the laboratory. The equipment involved in the experiments involves the use of Class 4 lasers, high voltage equipment, high current sources, magnetic fields, high powered microwaves, toxic metals, and assorted DGs.

Minimal waste products (solvent waste) are likely to be generated as a result of the operations. Chemical waste must be stored in the same manner and with the same precautions that the chemical itself would be stored prior to use as described in Section 15.5. of SNH Safety & Operations Manual (PDF 4,899KB) Incompatible chemical wastes must be segregated as far as possible to reduce the risk of a dangerous reaction.

Although there are no specific procedures in place regarding cleaning following experiments, it is expected that users leave their work stations in the same manner as before they started.   

Maintenance of laboratory equipment will be managed by Laboratory, Manager Michael Biercuk.  

Safety and Training

Laser safety training is conducted prior to granting authorised access into the laboratory. Hard and soft copies of records of this training are kept by the Laboratory, Manager Michael Biercuk. 

A risk assessment has been conducted for the operations in the existing Quantum Control Laboratory which will apply to the relocation to the SNH. This risk assessment, and future risk assessments are signed off by Michael Biercuk. The existing controls involve levels of PPE, enclosures, signage, regular maintenance, interlocks, O2 monitoring, and specialised training to minimise the identified risk levels down to an acceptable level. A brief summary of the risks associated within the laboratories is provided below for each of the identified hazards.

  • The Class 4 laser light spectrum covers ultraviolet, visible and infrared spectrums and may result in soft tissue burns or catastrophic eye damage if exposed to a direct beam of light.

  • High voltage and high current equipment is used to power the lasers, power supplies on amplifiers and the solenoid magnets which may result in the potential for electrocution.

  • The magnetic equipment generated magnetic fields of approximately 2 Teslas which is not considered to have any harmful effects although it may interfere with pacemaker users. Also, loose metallic equipment may be drawn into the bore of the magnet which potentially could shatter glass envelopes.

  • High powered microwaves may cause local skin damage or cause cataracts in the eye if concentrated exposure occurs.

  • Beryllium is used within the Quantum Control Laboratory which is a toxic metal which may cause respiratory diseases if the dust is inhaled.

  • Minor quantities of solvents are used for cleaning and maintenance of equipment. Solvents are classified as Class 3 DGs and may pose a fire hazard or chemical burning after extended exposure.

  • Liquefied helium and nitrogen are stored in 90 L dewars which pose the potential for oxygen deprivation as the gases evaporate or frostbite due to contact with unexposed skin.


Once the laser safety training has been undertaken, a swipe card is issued granting access to laboratories etc.

The laboratory area is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; however access to personnel is decided on a case by case basis and there are certain guidelines or rules in place for when personnel can work alone outside of normal working hours, particularly at night.

Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment (PPE)

The PPE required for personnel to wear is dependent upon the activities being undertaken. A summary of the equipment required to be worn is provided below; however, the risk assessment should also be consulted prior to use as this will be the most up to date source of required PPE.

  • Class 4; UV, visible and IR lasers – safety goggles
  • Toxic metals – protective respiratory equipment and gloves
  • Solvents - gloves  

Further Information

WHS documentation specific to Quantum Control laboratories will shortly be available on the Sydney Nano SharePoint, which is currently under construction.

If you have feedback about this staff intranet page please contact the site author, Staff Communications, by emailing