James Keaveney
MPhys, Ph.D. (Dunelm)

Post-Doctoral Research Associate

Lab 54/Room PH6
Tel +44 (0)191 33 43601
Joint Quantum Centre profile
Google Scholar profile


I grew up in Peterlee, not far from Durham, where I attended St. Bede's comprehensive school and later Byron 6th Form (at St. Bede's). I started my undergraduate degree in Durham back in 2005, and have been here ever since! My 4th year masters project was a computational theory project supervised by Prof. Stewart Clark, working with density functional perturbation theory to calculate bulk properties including phase transitions from first principles. I realised I wanted to do something more hands-on, and so I started my PhD, an experimental project, in October 2009. In July 2013, I completed my PhD, and am now continuing to work in Durham as a post-doc.

The project

I work with my supervisor Prof Charles Adams and Ph.D. student Kate Whittaker. We investigate the fundamental physics of atom-light interactions in an extremely high density (for atomic gases!) regime using thermal vapours of rubidium (Rb) and caesium (Cs). Under these conditions, interactions between atoms and surfaces, or interactions between two identical atoms become dominant.

To investigate these effects, we confine our atoms in extremely thin vapour cells, thanks to a fruitful collaboration with the group of David Sarkisyan, based at the Institute for Physical Research, Armenia. The thickness of these cells is typically much less than the wavelength of our laser light (around 800 nm), down to as little as 30 nm, and their construction allows the local thickness to be tuned over a wide range with very high accuracy.

The results of our work over the last four years are presented in my thesis, which you can download here.

Check out our main research page here.

Photo of the experiment. You can see the optical path of the laser beam as it propagates through the cell, enclosed in its heater (grey/silver cylinder with wires).


My Ph.D. thesis (2013) is available here.

Optical response of gas-phase atoms at less than λ/80 from a dielectric surface, arXiv preprint 1403.3035 (2014).

Active narrowband filtering, line narrowing and gain using ladder electromagnetically induced transparency in an optically thick atomic vapour, J. Phys. B 47, 075002 (2014).

Maximal Refraction and Superluminal Propagation in a Gaseous Nanolayer, Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 233001 (2012).

Cooperative Lamb Shift in an Atomic Vapor Layer of Nanometer Thickness, Phys. Rev. Lett. 108, 173601 (2012).
Featured in the highlights section of Physical Review Letters, Physics 5, 46 (2012).

Optical transmission through a dipolar layer, arXiv:1109.3669 (2011).

Effect of buffer gas on an electromagnetically induced transparency in a ladder system using thermal rubidium vapor, Phys. Rev. A 82, 045806 (2010).

Teaching Activities

Level 1 Academic Tutor (2010/11 and 2011/12)

Level 3 Optics Labs Demonstrator (2010/11, 2013/14)

Level 4 Problems marker (2012/13)


Celebrate Science demonstrator (October 2011)

Supported Progression Post-16 poster tutor (2011); Pre-16 Summer school lab demonstrator (2010, 2011)

KS4 STEM career day at St Bede's Peterlee, ambassador for Durham physics (November 2010)

Content © James Keaveney, Durham University 2014