Professor Michael Holynski PhD

Professor Michael Holynski

School of Physics and Astronomy
Professor of Atom Interferometry

Contact details

School of Physics and Astronomy
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Michael Holynski is a Professor of Atom Interferometry in the Cold Atoms research group, part of the Midlands Ultracold Atom Research Centre, and the UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Metrology

He leads the Atom Interferometry group, where he focuses on gravity gradient sensors and their use within applications. This includes developing gradiometers for use in the field and pushing to create more compact and deployable devices, while also investigating approaches to improve their 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.


  • 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 Hub for Sensing and Timing, where he is also the co-lead of Geophysics.

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.


  • 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 (2020) A dielectric metasurface optical chip for the generation of cold atoms Science Advances Vol. 6, no. 31
  • B. Canuel et al. (2020) ELGAR - a European Laboratory for Gravitation and Atom-interferometric Research Classical and Quantum Gravity,
  • L. Badurina et al. (2020) AION: an atom interferometer observatory and network Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, 05 011
  • Y. A. El-Neaj et al. (2020) AEDGE: Atomic Experiment for Dark Matter and Gravity Exploration in Space” EPJ Quantum Technology 7, 6
  • C. Rammeloo, L. Zhu, Y.-H. Lien, K. Bongs, and M. Holynski (2020) "Performance of an optical single-sideband laser system for atom interferometry" J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 37, 1485-1493 
  • K. Bongs, M. Holynski, J. Vovrosh, P. Bouyer, G. Condon, E. Rasel, C. Schubert, W. P. Schleich and A. Roura, (2019) “Taking atom interferometric quantum sensors from the laboratory to real-world applications” Nature Reviews Physics, 1, 731–739
  • L. Zhu, Y.-H. Lien, A. Hinton, A. Niggebaum, C. Rammeloo, K. Bongs and M. Holynski (2018) "Application of an optical single-sideband laser in Raman atom interferometry" Opt. Express 26, 6542-6553
  • 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 (2018) Additive manufacturing of magnetic shielding and ultra-high vacuum flanges for cold atom sensors Scientific Reports Vol 8, 2023
  • 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. (2017). A portable magneto-optical trap with prospects for atom interferometry in civil engineering. Philosophical Transactions A Royal Society A 375 2099, 16
  • N. Meyer, H. Proud, M. Perea-Ortiz, C. O’Neale, M. Baumert, M. Holynski, J. Kronjäger, G. Barontini, and K. Bongs (2017) Observation of Two-Dimensional Localized Jones-Roberts Solitons in Bose-Einstein Condensates Phys. Rev. Lett. 119, 150403

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