Industry Internship Opportunities

Microsoft Research - Optics for the Cloud

Position Type: Internship
Location: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom

Job Summary

Microsoft Research is offering the unique opportunity to work in Cambridge for a 12-week (or longer) internship in cutting-edge optical technologies that will underpin the next generation of cloud infrastructure and head-mounted display technology. In the field of cloud infrastructure, we are engaged in a series of pioneering research projects covering compute, storage and networking. To address the challenges in these areas, we adopt a holistic approach by working in multidisciplinary teams that perform research that spans optics, system design, software, and hardware.

In the optical storage field, we are aiming to revolutionise how data is stored in the cloud.

Project Silica leverages recent discoveries in laser technology to store data in quartz glass. Polarised femtosecond lasers are used to write data into glass and optical polarisation microscopes are used for readout.

Project HSD is re-inventing an old idea --- holographic storage --- for the cloud era. Holographic storage uses light interference patterns to store data as persistent holograms in electro-optic crystals, and promises to deliver high performance at low cost for warm cloud workloads that today rely on mechanical hard disk drives.

In the optical networking field, we aim to develop disruptive optical technologies for the next generation cloud infrastructure. For example, project Sirius is targeted at asking whether ultra-fast optical switching within the datacentre can enable the continuation of Moore’s law.

In the field of displays we are looking at ambitious and sensible ways to solve the critical issues of today’s head-mounted display technology. We are looking at a range of technologies, including static and dynamic holography, computational optics, free form optics and new image projector devices. The project involves solving a variety of practical and theoretical challenges and involves both hands-on darkroom experimentation and simulation work.

Finally, in the optical compute field, we are investigating super-efficient optical primitives that can be integrated as photonic accelerators into end-to-end systems of specific workloads.


Successful candidates will be working in a multi-disciplinary team of experts from the fields of optics, storage, networking and distributed systems working on projects at the leading edge of optical design and will have an opportunity to explore new ideas of using optics in the relevant application domains. They will be expected to contributed both to the design and experimental evaluation (through simulations and/or lab testbeds) of the performance and behaviour of the system.


These skills would be useful for all projects

  • Currently pursuing a PhD in optical communications, electrical engineering, computer science, physics or closely related field
  • Highly motivated attitude and passion to work in a multi-disciplinary environment
  • Fluency in English (verbal and written)
  • Software skills (Matlab, Python, C/C++)
  • Digital signal processing

The following skills would be applicable to particular projects:

  • Hands-on experience of femtosecond laser material processing
  • Experience with optical design and simulation software, e.g. Zemax or Lumerical
  • Practical experience and theoretical understanding of optical imaging technologies, especially microscopy and Fourier optics
  • Experience/knowledge of photonic integrated circuits.
  • Experience/knowledge of optical communication systems and networks.
  • Practical experience in implementation of free-space and fibre-based optical systems
  • Practical experience with spatial light modulators.


Please apply through the job's information page. Please fell free to reach out to Ioan Stefanovici <>, Dushyanth Narayanan <>, or Andromachi Chatzieleftheriou <> for more information.

Equal Opportunity Statement

Microsoft is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, ancestry, color, family or medical care leave, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital status, medical condition, national origin, physical or mental disability, political affiliation, protected veteran status, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected by applicable laws, regulations and ordinances. We also consider qualified applicants regardless of criminal histories, consistent with legal requirements. If you need assistance and/or a reasonable accommodation due to a disability during the application or the recruiting process, please send a request via the Accommodation request form. Benefits/perks listed below may vary depending on the nature of your employment with Microsoft and the country where you work.