For further information about our academic staff please use the list of staff by research theme below.

Head of Institute

Deputy Head

  • Prof. Brian Gerardot

Quantum Photonics and Quantum Information

  • Prof. Patrik Öhberg 
  • Prof. Erika Andersson
  • Dr Cristian Bonato
  • Prof. Gerald S. Buller
  • Dr Xianzhong Chen
  • Dr Alessandro Fedrizzi 
  • Dr Marcello Ferrera
  • Dr Erik Gauger
  • Dr Michael Hartmann
  • Prof. Brian Gerardot (Deputy Director)
  • Dr Jonathan Leach
  • Prof. Carl R. Pidgeon

Ultrafast Photonics

  • Prof. Derryck Reid
  • Dr Fabio Biancalana
  • Dr Maria Ana Cataluna
  • Prof. Ian Galbraith
  • Prof. Ajoy Kar
  • Dr Richard McCracken
  • Dr Mohammed F Saleh
  • Prof. Robert Thomson
  • Dr Dave Townsend
  • Dr John Travers

Applied Photonics

  • Prof. Andrew Moore
  • Dr Richard Carter
  • Prof. Daniel Esser
  • Prof. Duncan P. Hand
  • Dr William N. MacPherson
  • Dr Jonathan Shephard
  • Dr Wei Wang
  • Dr Xu Wang


Associate Institute Members

  • Dr Weiping Lu (Primary Institute IB3)
  • Dr Paul Dalgarno (Primary Institute IB3)
  • Dr Nick Bennett (Primary Institute IMPEE)

Emeritus (in residence)

Prof. Howard J. Baker 
Prof. Bob Harrison
Prof. John Wilson

Our searchable 'people finder' facility allows you to find contact details for all other staff. Key institute contact details are also available on our contacts page.

A-Z - academic staff listed by surname

Cristian Bonato

Assistant Professor

+44 (0)131 451 3470
Room 217
James Nasmyth Building
Heriot-Watt University

A single spin is the smallest possible magnetic field sensor, providing the ultimate limit in spatial resolution. Devices comprising one single spin or a few spins provide a revolutionary tool to study magnetic fields at the nanoscale. For example, they could be used to detect nanoscale magnetic fields in nano-electronic devices, biological molecules and complex materials.

Single spins are also excellent systems to store and process information at the quantum level, providing communication and computing capabilities beyond what is possible in the classical world.

Our goal is to individually control single electronic and nuclear spins associated to point defects in solid-state materials, such as silicon carbide and diamond. Such defects effectively behave as single atoms trapped in a solid matrix: they are optically active and the associated electronic spin can be controlled and measured with high precision by a combination of optical and radio-frequency pulses. By working at the interface of quantum optics, magnetic resonance, materials science and nanophotonics, we will develop quantum opto-electronic devices based on single spins for applications in quantum sensing and information processing.

For more information please see the Quantum Photonics Laboratory group website

Selected publications
  1. C. Bonato, M. S. Blok, H. T. Dinani, D. W. Berry, M. Markham, D. Twitchen and R. Hanson. Optimized quantum sensing with a single electron spin using real-time adaptive measurements. Nature Nanotechnology 11, 247-252 (2016)
  2. M. S. Blok, C. Bonato, M. Markham, D. Twitchen, V. S. Dobrovitski, and R. Hanson. Manipulating a qubit through the backaction of sequential partial measurements and real-time feedback. Nature Physics 10, 189–193 (2014)
  3. J. N. Hagemeier, C. Bonato, T.-A. Truong, H. Kim, G. J. Beirne, M. Bakker, M. P. van Exter, Y. Luo, P. M. Petroff, and D. Bouwmeester. H1 photonic crystal cavities for hybrid quantum information protocols. Optics Express 20, 24714–24726 (2012)
  4. C. Bonato, F. Haupt, S. S. R. Oemrawsingh, J. Gudat, D. Ding, M. P. Van Exter, and D. Bouwmeester. CNOT and Bell-state analysis in the weak-coupling cavity QED regime. Physical Review Letters 104, 160503 (2010)
  5. C. Bonato, A. V. Sergienko, B. E. A. Saleh, S. Bonora, and P. Villoresi. Even-order aberration cancellation in quantum interferometry. Physical Review Letters 101, 233603 (2008)
  6. P. Villoresi, T. Jennewein, F. Tamburini, M. Aspelmeyer, C. Bonato, R. Ursin, C. Pernechele, V. Luceri, G. Bianco, and A. Zeilinger. Experimental verification of the feasibility of a quantum channel between space and earth. New Journal of Physics 10, 033038 (2008)

Cristian studied physics at the University of Padova (“Laurea” degree, 2004 – PhD, 2008). In Padova, he worked with Prof. Paolo Villoresi on experiments leading to the first demonstration of single photon exchange between an orbiting satellite and a ground-based optical station. During his PhD, he spent two years at Boston University, in the lab of Prof. Alexander Sergienko, studying the spatial properties of photonic entangled states.

After his PhD, his research interests shifted towards quantum optics in solid-state systems, in particular on the interaction between single spins and photons. He moved to the Netherlands for two post-doctoral positions, one in Leiden with Prof. Dirk Boumeester on cavity quantum electrodynamics with self-assembled quantum dots and one in Delft with Prof. Ronald Hanson on single spins associated with defects in diamond.

Currently, Cristian is Assistant Professor at Heriot Watt University.