Doctoral Candidate / Research Associate (m/f/d) in the Field of Error Correction For Quantum Key Distribution
We are seeking one Doctoral Candidate (f/m/d), starting Feb. 1st, 2024 working on error correction coding for information reconciliation in quantum key distribution within the frame of the European Doctoral Training Network "QuNEST"

For the Communications Engineering Lab (CEL) at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), we are currently seeking to recruit, starting February 1st, 2024 or later, limited to three years, one

Doctoral Candidate / Research Associate (f/m/d)

working on the development of error correction coding schemes for information reconciliation in QKD within the frame work of the European Marie Skłodowska-Curie Doctoral Training Network “QuNEST” on “Quantum Enhanced Optical Communication Network Security” (QuNEST Doctoral Candidate 3).

Research Programme Description

“QuNEST– Quantum Enhanced Optical Communication Network Security Doctoral Training” is hiring 11 Doctorate Candidates” to be funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Doctoral Networks. QuNEST is a highly interdisciplinary and intersectoral Doctoral Network composed of leading academic and industrial partners. The consortium consists of six academic institutions, namely: Eindhoven University of Technology, Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), University of L'Aquila, University of Warsaw and University of Geneva as well as the companies: ADVA Network Security, Exatel, IDQuantique, Infinera Germany, KEEQuant, NKT Photonics, Nokia Bell Labs France, Telecom Italia Mobile, Quantum Optical Technologies, Quantum Telecommunications Italy and VPIphotonics and involves seven different European countries. The diverse consortium provides a unique and timely opportunity to train students in quantum physics and optical communications.

The driving force for QuNEST is to provide high-level and highly collaborative training to 11 highly achieving Doctoral Candidates. This Doctoral Network is a highly multi-disciplinary, spanning areas of quantum physics, simulations, photonics, optical transmission, Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) protocols, implementation security, error correction algorithms, digital signal processing, networks and control, requiring cross-disciplinary and intersectoral training targeted at creating experts in this emerging multidisciplinary field. The QuNEST Doctoral Candidates will be trained by doing research, in which they will demonstrate the potential of combining quantum and classical optical data signals in a single fiber with the aim to develop ground-breaking and commercially attractive, short-to-medium term solutions targeting European industry leadership in this highly challenging sector. QuNEST will train much-needed future scientists and engineers who will design, build, deploy and operate the next generation quantum secured optical communications infrastructure.

The Doctoral Network program is designed to follow technical, scientific, and transferable skills, enabling the next generation of young researchers/engineers with excellent skills in understanding the challenges of quantum secure optical communications. All Doctoral Candidates will carry out secondments and placements with industrial partners at the earliest possible opportunity. Transferable skills and technical workshops from industrial partners will be central to the training of the Doctoral Candidates.

About the Host Institution

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology was established by the merger of the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe GmbH and the Universität Karlsruhe (TH) on October 01, 2009. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is a public non-profit institution pursuing the tasks of a State University of Baden-Wuerttemberg and of a national research center of the German Helmholtz Association. KIT’s mission combines the three strategic lines of activity of research, higher education, and innovation. With about 9.600 employees and 23.500 students, KIT is one of the largest institutions of research and higher education in natural sciences and engineering in Europe. Engineering sciences, natural sciences, the humanities, and social sciences make up the scope of subjects covered by KIT. In high interdisciplinary interaction, scientists of these disciplines study topics extending from the fundamentals to application and from the development of new technologies to the reflection of the relationship between man and technology.

The Communications Engineering Lab (CEL) of KIT is a globally recognized, leading scientific and applied research institute focused on physical layer algorithms for optical, wireline and wireless communication systems. Research at the CEL mainly focuses on the field of robust and reliable data communications as well as on digital signal processing and information theory as its scientific foundations. Current research topics include, but are not limited to: channel coding for reliable communications, application of machine learning in communications, digital signal processing for communications, in particular optical communications, energy-efficient communications, quantum key distribution, and quantum error correction. Consistent with these research topics, co-operations in national and international research programs are pursued. Joint projects with industry and public customers complete our creative scientific work. Within the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, CEL is engaged in all levels of academic education. Basic and advanced concepts from the fields of transmission technology and signal processing are covered within CEL’s lectures and seminars. Graduates are familiar with the technological and scientific fundamentals of up-to-date communication networks.

Job Description

  • Project title: Development of error correction coding schemes for information reconciliation in QKD
  • Host institution: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
  • PhD enrolment: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
  • Supervisors: Laurent Schmalen (KIT). Co-supervisor: Darko Zibar (Technical University of Denmark) Mentor: Amirhossein Ghazisaeidi (Nokia Bell Labs)
  • Project title: Development of error correcting codes for information reconciliation in QKD
  • Research objectives: You will design codes and protocols for reverse reconciliation in CV-QKD systems. This project significantly extends the state-of-the-art by investigating novel error correction methods for reverse reconciliation. You will design novel methods for error correction, based on a detailed information-theoretic analysis of the channel and the protocol. You will model the channel and aim for extremely low code rate codes. You will approach codes beyond traditional designs based on the models provided by the industrial partner. You will focus on extremely low complexity of the implementation with a focus on the extremely low SNR region. During secondments, you will help in experimentally verifying your codes in an extensive transmission DV/CV-QKD testbed, aiming to achieve record transmission distance and secret key rates.
  • Expected results: 1) Error correction protocol for QKD schemes with shaped modulation formats designed to maximize secret key rates and transmission distances, 2) Experimental assessment of the protocol in conjunction with industrial partner, 3) Advanced channel code designs for QKD and extension towards DV-QKD schemes
  • Secondments: The doctoral candidate will spend secondment periods at TU Eindhoven, Nokia Bell Labs France and IDQuantique (Switzerland)

Job Requirements

We are looking for outstanding, highly skilled candidates who meet the following requirements:

  • You are creative, ambitious, hard-working, and persistent.
  • You have an MSc degree in electrical engineering, information technology, applied mathematics, theoretical physics, computer science, or any other relevant program.
  • You ideally have theoretical and applied knowledge of coding theory, error correcting codes, information theory.
  • You have programming experience in at least 2 of the following languages: C/C++, MATLAB, Python.
  • Experience in quantum communications and/or optical communications and with respective lab-based setups are considered a plus.
  • You have good communicative skills, and the attitude to collaborate successfully in the work of a research team.
  • You have a good command of the English language (spoken and written).

Conditions of Employment

  • The successful candidates will receive a gross salary €3.255,59, in accordance with the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) regulations for Doctoral Candidate researchers (the mobility allowance is included in the previous value). According to the MSCA regulation, if the recruited doctoral candidate has or acquires family obligations during the action duration, a family allowance of €408,79 will be added to the previous value, in case of eligibility. The salary values may change slightly due to individual health insurance contributions. The calculation is based on a health insurance employer share rate of 8.1%. Payment is according to the § 611 ff. BGB (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch).
  • The period of employment is 36 months. In addition to their individual scientific projects, all fellows will benefit from further continuing education, which includes internships and secondments, a variety of training modules as well as transferable skills courses and attractive participation in conferences.
  • The Doctoral Candidates are expected to travel to network partners under three secondments for a typical duration of 2-6 months. Additionally, the Doctoral Candidates are expected to participate in outreach activities including, but not limited to, YouTube videos, social media updates, participation in public events and campaigns, as well as dissemination to popular press.
  • We offer an attractive and modern workplace with access to excellent facilities of KIT, diverse and responsible tasks, a wide scope of advanced training options, flexible working time models, a job ticket (BW) allowance, and a cafeteria/canteen.
  • We prefer to balance the number of employees (f/m/d). Therefore, we kindly ask female applicants to apply for this job.
  • If qualified, severely disabled persons will be preferred

Eligibility and Mobility Criteria (Mandatory Requirements According to EU Rules)

  • The recruited researchers must be doctoral candidates, i.e. not already in possession of a doctoral degree at the date of the recruitment.
  • The recruited researchers must be employed full-time, unless the granting authority has approved a part-time employment for personal or family reasons
  • The recruited researchers must be working exclusively for the project
  • Recruited researchers can be of any nationality and must comply with the following mobility rule: they must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting beneficiary (i.e., Germany) for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before the recruitment date – unless as part of a compulsory national service or a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention (1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol)


Application Procedure

Documents Requested

  • Complete CV (Europass format obligatory): The candidates are allowed to pursue a maximum of three positions in the QuNEST programme. If more than one position is pursued, please clearly indicate all the positions that are pursued with priorities on the first page of the CV.  
  • Motivation letter (maximum 1 page per position applied) should state why the applicant wishes to pursue the specific research and why the applicant thinks to be an ideal candidate for the position.
  • Scan of certificates showing BSc, MSc and other courses followed, with grades and if it is possible a ranking.
  • Up to three recommendation letters and/or contact e-mail addresses with a brief professional description (title, position, relationship with applicant) of the referring person.
  • Up to two written scientific reports in English (e.g. MSc thesis, traineeship report or scientific paper) 
  • Eligibility Statement: for verifying the MSCA requirements, the candidates clearly indicate the country or countries of the main activity (work, studies, etc) and country or countries of residence in the last 5 years with the exact dates. 

Selection Process

The selection process of invited candidates contains two phases: 

In the first phase, a wide range of selection practices will be used (including expert assessment, face-to-face interviews, etc.) to evaluate the potential candidates. The selection committee for each doctoral candidate will be composed of three members: the main supervisor from the hosting institution, a QuNEST representative from another beneficiary and the future secondment manager of the doctoral candidate. 

In the second phase, the selected candidate will be evaluated by QuNEST’s Recruitment, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee. The committee addresses gender balance and diversity issues within the entire Doctoral Network and needs to approve the selected candidate.  

QuNEST deals with a recruitment process based on the European principles of openness, fairness and transparency that guarantee a selection of candidates in respect of merit and gender balance. All institutions have clear equal opportunities policies ensuring equal and fair recruitment and employment of men and women.

Please note that all submitted applications will be checked against the defined eligibility and mobility criteria. Applications that do not follow these criteria will not be considered. 

  • Deadline for online application: 15/11/2023 
  • Targeted starting date: 01/02/2024

For more information about the project and any informal enquiries, please contact Prof. Dr.-Ing. Laurent Schmalen.

How to Apply

Interested candidates are asked to send a motivation letter, curriculum vitae, copies of academic degrees and transcripts of records as a single PDF file before November 15th, 2023 either online via or directly by email to Prof. Dr.-Ing. Laurent Schmalen. Clearly state in the subject field and the e-mail that you apply for the QuNEST position. Please note that due to EU auditing requirements, the applicant database will be maintained up to 5 years after the completion of the project.