EPSRC CDT in Metamaterials (PhD studentship): Terahertz photonic metadevices with carbon nanomaterials Ref: 2851

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.

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: Dr Ana Neves, Dr Anna Baldycheva

External supervisors: Dr Mikhail Khodzitskiy (ITMO University)

Industrial partners: TYDEX

The research and development in 0.1-1.0 THz frequency tange is commercially important nowadays as it opens a wide range of applications for single electronic devices, such as wide-band telecommunications, imaging systems, wireless communications, medical imaging, bio-chemical sensing, defence and security, and environmental monitoring, to mention only a few with great impact on society and economy. However, the development of the first smart electronic systems at low THz frequencies is still in its infancy, with the technology being at the early stage, and with proposed devices being bulky and extremely expensive.

This project aims at developing a novel metamaterial platform based on carbon nanomaterials (CNM) thin-film technology for the realisation of the first fully reconfigurable THz antenna systems, for future integration in smart phones, watches, goggles, textiles and even human skin. For this purpose, the following metamaterial architectures will be targeted: antenna arrays of crosses and split ring resonators, as well as photonic crystals.

The use of graphene and other CNMs has already been proposed for THz electronics, but a technology or approach for the practical realisation of the first reconfigurable THz electronic systems is still nonexistent. In order to integrate these materials in the metamaterial structures  different approaches to thin-film CNM production and processing will be used, focusing mainly on chemical vapour depositon (CVD) and liquid-phase exfoliation (LPE), and subsequent processing using the appropriate techniques for each type of CNM (e.g. wet-transfer and stamping for CVD, spin coating and spray coating for LPE). Therefore, different types of flexible substrates can also be used, from transparent plastics to textile fibres and fabrics. Several surface characterisation techniques (microscopically and spectroscopically, namely by using AFM, SEM and Raman) and physical characterisation (electrical transport measurements). Additionally, the student will gain experience in design and simulation of device components in collaboration with the TeraHertz Biomedicine Laboratory (ITMO University, Russia) and device testing with the company Tydex – the global leaders in research and production of THz photonics components.

The multidisciplinarity of this project will endow the student with a number of skills related with fabrication, processing and characterisation of nanomaterials. The valuable contribution of Tydex will provide the student the opportunity to get familiarised with the industrial environment, and the cohort approach will facilitate interactions with students working in related areas.

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:30th April 2018
Number of awards:1
Value:Approximately £90,000, including research and travel budget, tuition fees and stipend (approximately [£14,500/£16,500] 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.