EPSRC CDT in Metamaterials (PhD studentship): Advanced Magnetic Materials for Radio, Microwave and Millimetre-wave applications Ref: 2838

About the award

The studentship is part of the UK’s Centre of Doctoral Training in Metamaterials (XM2) based in the Departments of Physics and Engineering on the Streatham Campus in Exeter.  Its aim is to undertake world-leading research, while training scientists and engineers with the relevant research skills and knowledge, and professional attributes for industry and academia.

XM2 studentships are of value around £90,000, which includes £11,000 towards the research project (travel, consumables, equipment etc.), tuition fees, and an annual, tax-free stipend of approximately £14,500 per year for UK/EU students. In addition, subject to final agreement with the project partner, it is expected that this studentship will attract a further top up of £2,000 per year.

Exeter has a well-established and strong track record of relevant research, and prospective students can consider projects from a wide variety of fields:

  • Acoustic and Fluid-dynamical Metamaterials
  • Biological and Bio-inspired Metamaterials
  • Graphene and other 2D Materials, and related Devices
  • Magnonics, Spintronics and Magnetic Metamaterials
  • Microwave Metamaterials
  • Nanomaterials and Nanocomposites
  • Optical, Infra-red and THz Photonics and Plasmonics
  • Quantum Metamaterials
  • Wave Theory and Spatial Transformations

Please visit www.exeter.ac.uk/metamaterials to learn more about our centre and see the full list of projects that we have on offer this year.

International students are welcome to apply: fees and project costs will be paid, but the stipend can only be provided in exceptional circumstances.  We encourage international scholarship applicants or recipients to contact us directly prior to making their application (metamaterials@exeter.ac.uk).

Statement of Research

Joint supervisors: Prof Alastair P Hibbins, Dr Feodor Ogrin, Prof Oana Ghita

External supervisors: Ian Youngs & Nathan Clow (DSTL)

This project presents an opportunity to explore the hybridisation of metamaterial concepts with dynamic magnetism, working towards an ambition to explore the benefits and limitations that advanced magnetic materials can bring to radio, microwave and millimetre wave applications. The research will build on previous experimental and theoretical work undertaken at Exeter (e.g. [1-4]) to explore the potential enhanced permeability at higher frequencies towards and above 1 GHz, and where there is a strong relationship between micro or nano topology and the magnetic properties. 

This work has suggested that composites of mono-disperse spherical core-shell ferrite particles can yield topological domain resonances providing useful magnetic character (i.e. magnetic permeability in excess of unity) at frequencies up to 40 GHz.  This potentially yields the exciting possibility to fabricate impedance matched (i.e. non reflecting) composites with large refractive index. Composites including similar spherical core-shell ferrite particles and other types of the ferrite particles, for example of different composition or aspect ratio will be 3D printed using engineering thermoplastics.

The effect of dispersion, changes in molecular structure, particles-matrix interactions and printing strategies will be examined in relation with magnetic properties. We will compare and contrast these composite materials with the properties and use of, for example, magnetic thin films (and multilayers).  The characteristics of interest for future antennas in this area of application are: beam-forming and beam steering, frequency agility and scalability of concepts across the spectrum. In addition, it is of interest to learn to what degree the presence and optimisation of the magnetic modes leads to an improved combination of bandwidth, efficiency and size.

The challenges are numerous and difficult, but we expect great advances in understanding and device design.  The student will need to become familiar with the physics of magnetic and composite materials, and fabrication and characterisation techniques. We anticipate that there will be collaboration with material manufacturing companies, and the student will utilise the experience and facilities of Exeter’s Centre of Additive Layer Manufacture in fabrication of composites and 3D printing.  Experimentally, the student will be required to characterise materials and devices, and this will include use of Exeter’s microwave laboratories, our state-of-the-art broad-band stripline apparatus to retrieve electromagnetic parameters up to 50 GHz, and will potentially visit industry laboratories. 

The student will also need to become fully familiar with the fundamentals of magnetism, the complexities of wave optics, and polarisation effects in order to explore and extend the limitations involved.

[1] Parke et al., “Heavily loaded ferrite-polymer composites to produce high refractive index materials at centimetre wavelengths”, APL Materials 1, 042108 (2013).
[2] Parke et al., “Broadband impedance-matched electromagnetic structured ferrite
composite in the megahertz range” Appl. Phys. Lett. 104, 221905 (2014)
[3] Bychanok et al., “Exploring Carbon Nanotubes / BaTiO3 / Fe3O4 Nanocomposites as Microwave Absorbers” Prog Electromagn Res C 66, 77 (2016)
[4] McKeever et al., “Dynamic susceptibility of concentric permalloy rings with opposite chirality vortices” J. Appl. Phys. 121, 203901 (2017).

About XM2

Metamaterials are fabricated microstructures having properties beyond those found in nature. They are an important new class of electromagnetic and acoustic materials with applications in many technology areas: energy storage and improved efficiency, imaging, communications, sensing and the much-hyped ‘cloaking’. Having recruited nearly 70 new PhD researchers in its first four years, the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (XM2) hosted by the University of Exeter (www.exeter.ac.uk/metamaterials) will admit its fifth cohort of PhD students in September 2018.

The first year of the studentship includes an assessed, stand alone project, and a substantial programme of training. Students will choose from a wide range of taught modules, and participate in academic and personal development skills-based workshops, together with creativity events and conference-style meetings. The cohort will also be expected to disseminate their results to the international community via high-impact publications and international conferences. They will spend time working with our academic and industrial partners.  Full details of the programme are available here, or download a copy of our prospectus.

The University of Exeter combines world class research with excellent student satisfaction. It is a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive universities. Formed in 1955, the University has over 20,000 students from more than 130 different countries. Its success is built on a strong partnership with its students and a clear focus on high performance. Recent breakthroughs to come out of Exeter's research include the identification and treatment of new forms of diabetes and the creation of the world's most transparent, lightweight and flexible conductor of electricity. Exeter is ranked amongst the UK’s top 10 universities in the Higher Education league tables produced by the Times and the Sunday Times. It is also ranked amongst the world’s top 200 universities in the QS and Times Higher Education rankings.


Application deadline:31st January 2018
Number of awards:1
Value:Approximately £90,000, including research and travel budget, tuition fees and annual stipend (approximately £14,500 plus a £2,000 top-up (tbc) payable to UK or EU students only)
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Prof. Alastair Hibbins (Admissions Tutor)metamaterials@exeter.ac.uk

How to apply

Application criteria

During the application process you will need to upload the documents listed below. Please prepare these before starting the application process.

  • A statement describing why you would like to study for a PhD in Physics or Engineering,
  • A statement describing why you are considering a PhD programme that offers a cohort-based doctoral training model,
  • An academic CV,
  • A cover letter that discusses your preferred area(s) of study and/or your interest in a particular project/supervisor,
  • A document outlining your research interests and any relevant expertise,
  • Degree transcript(s) giving information about the qualification awarded, the modules taken during the study period, and the marks for each module taken,
  • The contact details of two academic referees.

Please note that of all the projects advertised we expect, as a Centre, to fill 15-20 posts only.

Shortlisting and interviews

Applications will be reviewed by members of the XM2 management board and candidates will be short-listed against a set of agreed criteria to ensure quality while maintaining diversity. Failure to include all the the elements above may result in rejection. Criteria will include:


  • Excellence in a lower degree in a relevant discipline;
  • Excellence in written and oral skills in English;
  • Evidence of knowledge of XM2 ethos, research themes and/or supervisors.


  • Specialist knowledge about one or more XM2 topics;
  • Research outputs (e.g. papers) and/or has undertaken training in research methodology (e.g. undergraduate research projects);
  • Ability to work collaboratively

Short-listed candidates will be interviewed by a panel of two academic members of staff drawn from the management board. If successful, a second interview will be undertaken by the potential academic supervisors for the student concerned. Offers are normally made shortly after a successful second interview.