Dr Marcus Doherty

Dr Marcus Doherty
Postdoctoral Fellow
Laser Physics Centre
Physics Education Centre
Office phone
Oliphant 3 06
Curriculum vitae
Doherty CV (444KB PDF)


Marcus completed his Ph.D. and Bachelor degrees in Engineering and Science at the University of Melbourne. He joined the Australian National University in 2012 as a postdoctoral fellow within the Solid State Spectroscopy group of the Laser Physics Centre. He has continued in this role and, despite his early career status, now leads the Diamond Quantum Science and Technology research program of the Laser Physics Centre.

Marcus is internationally recognised as a principal contributor to the emergence of diamond-based quantum technologies, including quantum microscopy, quantum computing and quantum communications. These technologies represent new paradigms of microscopy, computing and communications that have the potential to revolutionise many disciplines of science and technology.

Marcus’ research is characterised by the application of first-principles understanding of optical defects in diamond to the innovation of quantum technologies. In his Ph.D. thesis, Marcus developed the first self-consistent theory of the nitrogen-vacancy (NV) colour centre in diamond, which is a model system for many quantum technologies. Marcus’ theory resolved issues that limited the performance of the NV centre at the time and is the basis for the ongoing innovation of NV technologies and the growing effort to systematically identify similar optical defects. For this significant contribution, Marcus was awarded the University of Melbourne Chancellor's Prize for Excellence in the PhD thesis and a nomination for the Bragg Gold Medal of the Australian Institute of Physics.

As a postdoctoral fellow, Marcus continued innovating quantum technologies and has expanded his research to explore optical defects in various materials. In particular, Marcus collaborated extensively with leading groups around the world in order to realise his innovations. These include demonstrations of high-sensitivity nanoscale piezometry and vector electrometry. The former is currently the most sensitive high-pressure piezometry technique, which offers new means to study high pressure phenomena, such as superconducting and ferroelectric phase transitions. The latter is currently the most sensitive electrometry technique at room temperature, unique in its capability to measure the complete vector of an electric field and locate a single elementary charge with nanometre resolution. Marcus’ fundamental studies of the effects of temperature on the NV centre led to spin resonance and all-optical nanothermometry techniques suitable for biomedical applications, such as thermoablative cancer therapy. For these significant contributions and others, Marcus received several Early Career Awards, including the Ruby-Payne Scott Award of the Australian Institute of Physics, Geoff Opat Award of the Australian Optical Society, the Dr Phillip Law AC Award of the Royal Society of Victoria and runner-up to the New Journal of Physics Early Career Award.

Research interests

Marcus’ primary research interest is the innovation of solid-state quantum technologies. In particular, technologies based upon the remarkable properties of optical defects in diamond and related materials.

His current research pursues three parallel programs:

  • Defect discovery and engineering
  • Quantum microscopy
  • Quantum computing and communications

The activities of these programs span from first-principles defect theory and modelling to the design and demonstration of quantum devices.

See current projects for more specific information on Marcus’ current research.

Grants and awards

Marcus has been awarded:

  • Ruby-Payne Scott Award 2016, the Australian Institute of Physics
  • C.N. Yang Award 2016, Association of Asia Pacific Physical Societies
  • Runner-up to the New Journal of Physics Early Career Award 2015
  • Geoff Opat Early Career Prize 2015, the Australian Optical Society
  • Dr Phillip Law AC Postdoctoral Award 2015, The Royal Society of Victoria
  • Chancellor's Prize for Excellence in the PhD Thesis 2013, the University of Melbourne
  • Nomination for the Bragg Gold Medal for Excellence in Physics 2012, the Australian Institute of Physics
  • CISRA Student Presentation Prize 2010, the 19th Australian Institute of Physics Congress

Marcus has received the following fellowships and scholarships:

  • Early Career Research Travel Grant 2017, the Australian National University
  • ARC DECRA DE170100169: Diamond quantum technologies: from fundamentals to applications. Funding period: 2017-2019.
  • Early Career Research Travel Grant 2014, the Australian National University
  • Visiting Fellowship of the Network for Functional Nanotechnologies 2013, Baden-Wuerttemberg Stiftung
  • Staff Develop Scholarship 2012-2013, the Australian National University
  • David Hay Postgraduate Writing Up Award 2011, the University of Melbourne
  • Overseas Research Experience Scholarship 2009, the University of Melbourne
  • Australian Postgraduate Award 2008-2011
  • John Tyndall Scholarship 2007, the University of Melbourne
  • Quantum Communications Victoria Honours Scholarship 2007, the University of Melbourne

Marcus has secured the following grants:

  • ANU Major Equipment Committee grant 17MEC36: A quantum microscope for innovative interdisiplinary science at ANU. Investigators: M.W. Doherty and P. Cooper.
  • ARC Discovery Project DP170102735: Electric field imaging of single charges and molecules via spins in diamond. Investigators: M.W. Doherty, M.J. Sellars, P. Maletinsky and J. Wrachtrup. Funding period: 2017-2019.
  • DAAD-Go8 Cooperation Scheme: Spin-mechanical quantum technologies in diamond. Investigators: N.B. Manson, F. Jelezko and M.W. Doherty. Funding period: 2015-2016.
  • ARC Discovery Project DP140103862: Mechanical control of defect spins in diamond and its applications in quantum technology. Investigators: N.B. Manson, M.W. Doherty and K. Ganesan. Funding period: 2014-2016.


Amongst others, Marcus collaborates with:

  • 3. Physikalisches Institut, University of Stuttgart
  • Institute for Quantum Optics, University of Ulm
  • Lukin Group, Department of Physics, Harvard University
  • Quantum Sensing and Imaging Lab, Department of Physics, University of California Santa Barbara
  • Quantum-Sensing Lab, Department of Physics, University of Basel
  • Meriles Group, Department of Physics, City College of New York
  • Theoretical and Experimental Condensed Matter Physics Groups, School of Physics, University of Melbourne
  • Theoretical Chemical and Quantum Physics Group, School of Applied Sciences, RMIT University
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