Professor Michael Holynski PhD FInstP

Prof Mike Holynski

School of Physics and Astronomy
Professor of Quantum Sensing
Principal Investigator at the UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing

Contact details

School of Physics and Astronomy
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Michael Holynski is Principal Investigator at the UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing, where he helps to drive the translation of quantum sensing and timing devices into technology and applications across a diverse number of sectors, including climate, communications, energy, transport and urban development. Michael is also Professor of Quantum Sensing in the Cold Atoms research group, part of the Midlands Ultracold Atom Research Centre.

He leads the Quantum Sensing group, where he focuses on atom interferometry and its use within applications such as infrastructure monitoring, alternative navigation and fundamental physics. This includes developing atom interferometers, based on rubidium or strontium, for use in the field, the creation of compact and deployable devices, and investigation of approaches for achieving improved sensitivity.

Michael is active in enabling the translation and commercialisation of quantum technology, and leads a portfolio of collaborative projects with industry ranging from component development to system level realisation of industrial sensor prototypes and engagement with end users.

Michael was awarded the 2022 Institute of Physics James Joule Medal and Prize for his contributions to the development of quantum sensors, and is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics.


  • PhD in Physics, University of Birmingham, 2012
  • MSci in Physics, University of Birmingham, 2008


Michael Holynski obtained his PhD from the University of Birmingham in 2012, on the creation of an experiment for the study of low dimensional systems using Bose-Einstein condensates. Michael then spent two years at the Instituto de Física de São Carlos of the Universidade de São Paulo, Brasil, as a FAPESP post-doctoral fellow working with cold strontium.

In 2014, Michael returned to the University of Birmingham to lead the atom interferometry team within the Cold Atoms group. He has led the development of several atom interferometer and gravity gradiometer instruments, and his work currently focuses on bringing these to applications within civil engineering, space, defence and fundamental physics. This includes leading the cold atom gravity gradiometry work of the UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing, where he is also the co-lead of Geophysics. In 2023, Michael took on the role of Principal Investigator at the Hub. 

He is actively engaged in translation to industry, including as the academic lead of the ISCF project Gravity Pioneer and in several past and present Innovate UK projects. He is also active in dissemination to the wider community and public, and has presented and exhibited at numerous events.


  • Y2 Optics
  • Coordinator of Y4 project area on quantum sensing with cold atoms
  • Y4 project supervision
  • Coordinator of Y3 group study on atom interferometry

Postgraduate supervision

Michael supervises PhD projects relating to atom interferometry and quantum sensing, including interdisciplinary projects such as with civil engineering and wider areas of physics. If you are interested in pursuing a related project, please get in touch.


Research themes

  • Atom interferometry
  • Gravity gradiometry and its applications
  • Quantum sensing
  • Technology translation

Michael's research focuses on how we can use atom interferometry to realise new tools for applications and to investigate fundamental physics. Within his group, our work includes atom interferometry with rubidium and strontium.

His group are addressing the challenges associated with operating quantum sensors in the field and enabling application relevant performance in challenging environments. This includes developing new schemes to reduce the size, weight and power of our instruments while also improving their robustness and performance. Within the quantum hub this includes addressing the initial challenges involved in operating the sensors on moving vehicles.

We also pursue new techniques in the laboratory to enable many orders of magnitude improvements in sensitivity and performance. These are directed towards enabling the future use of atom interferometers within fundamental physics, such as for the detection for gravitational waves and dark matter. Such techniques will also enable significant improvements in performance for future field instruments

We collaborate strongly with a wide range of academic and industry partners. This includes through the UK Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Timing, within the fundamental physics consortia AION and ELGAR, and through numerous collaborative Innovate UK projects.


  • B. Stray*, A. Lamb* et al. “Quantum sensing for gravity cartography”. Nature 602 590-594 (2022)
  • P.J. Hobson et al. “Bespoke magnetic field design for a magnetically shielded cold atom interferometer”. Sci Rep 12, 10520 (2022)
  • R. Nourshargh, S. Hedges, M. Langlois, K. Bongs, and M. Holynski. “Doppler Compensated Cavity For Atom Interferometry”. Opt. Express 30, 30001-30011 (2022)
  • R. Nourshargh, S. Lellouch, S. Hedges, M. Langlois, K. Bongs and M. Holynski. “Circulating pulse cavity enhancement as a method for extreme momentum transfer atom interferometry”. Communications Physics 4, 257 (2021)
  • Calum D. Macrae, Kai Bongs, and Michael Holynski, “Optical frequency generation using fiber Bragg grating filters for applications in portable quantum sensing," Opt. Lett. 46, 1257-1260 (2021)
  • J. Vovrosh, L. Earl, H. Thomas, J. Winch, B. Stray, K. Ridley,  M. Langlois,  K. Bongs, and M. Holynski. “Reduction of background scattered light in vacuum systems for cold atoms experiments” AIP Adv. 10, 105125, (2020)
  • D. Devani, S. Maddox, R. Renshaw. et al. “Gravity sensing: cold atom trap onboard a 6U CubeSat.” CEAS Space J 12, 539–549 (2020)
  • L. Zhu, X. Liu, B. Sain, M. Wang, C. Schlickriede, Y. Tang, J. Deng, K. Li, J. Yang, M. Holynski, S. Zhang, T. Zentgraf, K. Bongs, Y.-H. Lien and G. Li “A dielectric metasurface optical chip for the generation of cold atoms” Science Advances Vol. 6, no. 31 (2020)
  • B. Canuel et al. “ELGAR - a European Laboratory for Gravitation and Atom-interferometric Research” Classical and Quantum Gravity 37 225017, (2020)
  • L. Badurina et al. “AION: an atom interferometer observatory and network” Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, 05 011 (2020)
  • Y. A. El-Neaj et al. “AEDGE: Atomic Experiment for Dark Matter and Gravity Exploration in Space” EPJ Quantum Technology 7, 6 (2020)
  • C. Rammeloo, L. Zhu, Y.-H. Lien, K. Bongs, and M. Holynski "Performance of an optical single-sideband laser system for atom interferometry" J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 37, 1485-1493  (2020)
  • K. Bongs, M. Holynski, J. Vovrosh, P. Bouyer, G. Condon, E. Rasel, C. Schubert, W. P. Schleich and A. Roura, “Taking atom interferometric quantum sensors from the laboratory to real-world applications” Nature Reviews Physics, 1, 731–739 (2019)
  • L. Zhu, Y.-H. Lien, A. Hinton, A. Niggebaum, C. Rammeloo, K. Bongs and M. Holynski "Application of an optical single-sideband laser in Raman atom interferometry" Opt. Express 26, 6542-6553 (2018)
  • J. Vovrosh, G. Voulazeris, P. G. Petrov, J. Zou, Y. Gaber, L. Benn, D. Woolger, M. M. Attallah, V. Boyer, K. Bongs and M. Holynski “Additive manufacturing of magnetic shielding and ultra-high vacuum flanges for cold atom sensors” Sci Rep Vol 8, 2023 (2018)
  • Hinton, A., Perea-Ortiz, M., Winch, J., Briggs, J., Freer, S., Moustoukas, D., Powell-Gill, S., Squire, C., Lamb, A., Rammeloo, C., Stray, B., Voulazeris, G., Zhu, L., Kaushik, A., Lien Y-H., Niggebaum, A., Rodgers, A., Stabrawa, A., Boddice, D., Plant, S.R., Tuckwell, G.W., Metje, N., Bongs, K. and Holynski, M. “A portable magneto-optical trap with prospects for atom interferometry in civil engineering.” Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 375 2099, 16 (2017)
  • N. Meyer, H. Proud, M. Perea-Ortiz, C. O’Neale, M. Baumert, M. Holynski, J. Kronjäger, G. Barontini, and K. Bongs “Observation of Two-Dimensional Localized Jones-Roberts Solitons in Bose-Einstein Condensates” Phys. Rev. Lett. 119, 150403 (2017)