James Millen

I joined King’s College London in April 2018, and am Senior Lecturer in Advanced Photonics. I hold an ERC Starting Grant, and am Chair of the EPSRC International Quantum Technologies Network LeviNet.
I am also a Lecturer in Quantum Theory to the Public at the Royal Society of Great Britain, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

From 2015 – 2018 I was a Marie Curie Research Fellow in the Quantum Nanophysics Group at the University of Vienna, working on the manipulation and cooling of nanoscale objects, with the goal of controlling them on the quantum level.

In 2017 I was awarded the Institute of Physics’ Bates’ Prize, for my contributions to optomechanics.

I am an editor at the Journal of Physics Communications, an Institute of Physics journal dedicated to the rapid dissemination of research based on quality, not impact. This journal will also accept negative or null results, or the results of replication studies.

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Dr James Millen,
Photonics & Nanotechnology Group,
Department of Physics,
King’s College London,

james dot millen at kcl.ac.uk


I grew up in Dorset, specifically sunny Swanage by the sea. In 2003 I escaped the tranquil countryside to study physics at Imperial College London, where I saw tonnes of bands, was overwhelmed by buildings more than three stories high (we don’t have those in Dorset… we don’t even have a motorway), and did my Master’s project with Dr. Mike Tarbutt in the Centre for Cold Matter.

I regained tranquillity by doing my Ph. D. at Durham University in the North-East of England, where I lived in a small mining village, and had fish & chips delivered to my door by the local kids. I worked with Dr. Matt Jones on a new project studying Rydberg states in Strontium, and successfully defended my thesis “A Cold Strontium Rydberg Gas” in 2011.

I’d had enough of the slow life and moved back to London to work with Professor Peter Barker, starting up a new set of experiments in the field of levitated optomechanics at University College London. We had a great few years in an emerging field. I also took some time to develop my ideas for Public Engagement, in particular my Quantum Workshop project. During my time at UCL I also entered the field of thermodynamics through (continuing) collaboration with Dr. Janet Anders and involvement in the COST network for Quantum Thermodynamics.

In 2015 I finally left the UK and moved to the University of Vienna, living in a flat twice the size and half the price of my flat in London. I was awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship, and worked with Markus Arndt in the Quantum Nanophysics group, continuing my work on controlling nanoparticles in vacuum environments.

In 2018 I returned to London to take up a group leader position at King’s College London, and am currently Senior Lecturer in Advanced Photonics.