Single Photon Detectors Based on Atomically Thin Materials - Physics - EPSRC DTP funded PhD Studentship Ref: 2940

About the award

This project is one of a number funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Doctoral Training Partnership to commence in September 2018. This project is in direct competition with others for funding; the projects which receive the best applicants will be awarded the funding.

The studentships will provide funding for a stipend which is currently £14,553 per annum for 2017-2018. It will provide research costs and UK/EU tuition fees at Research Council UK rates for 42 months (3.5 years) for full-time students, pro rata for part-time students.

Please note that of the total number of projects within the competition, up to 15 studentships will be filled.

Prof Saverio Russo

Streatham Campus, Exeter

Project Description
The ability to see in very diverse light conditions has marked a paradigm shift in fundamental science enabling pioneering developments in health care, space exploration and more recently information protocols based on the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics. Despite the cutting-edge advances in material development and fundamental understanding of the interaction of light with materials, our ability to detect an individual light particle (photon) over a very broad range of the electromagnetic spectrum is largely limited by fundamental laws of quantum mechanics to cryogenic temperatures (below -200C) for several implementations. One of the major driver for single-photon detector development has been the rapidly expanding interest in optical quantum information (QI) where the quantum of light, that is the photon, carries an encoded information. These advanced technologies impose stringent demands on optical components such as single-photon detectors with extraordinary signal-to-noise ratio, detection efficiency, spectral range and ability to resolve photon number. Here we will harvest the unique potential of emerging atomically thin systems to explore conceptually novel light-matter interactions leading to the detection of single photons over an extraordinarily broad wavelength range at room temperature. This will enable the development of novel imaging and sensing technologies relevant for quantum information, real time communication of big data and advanced imaging for autonomous systems.

In this PhD, the student will pioneer the experimental demonstration of an atomically thin single photon imaging system at room temperature in a broad wavelength spectrum of light using atomically thin semiconductors. One of the envisioned implementation will consist of a sequence of materials whereby a single photon is efficiently converted into an exciton in the semiconducting layer and further used to modulate the charge density in an ultra-high speed graphene transistor channel exploiting the image charge effect and an electric field induced dipole in the excitons. Presently atomically thin materials and QI are worldwide priority investment areas, hence the timely breakthrough sought by this proposal can place the UK in a leadership role on emerging imaging, sensing and communication technologies. The objectives of this PhD project are to demonstrate (1) room temperature single photon detectivities, (2) large bandwidth operation and (3) resilience of the device in harsh environmental conditions commonly found in defence, security and space applications.

The student will be part of the Craciun & Russo-lab consisting of 35 researchers from PhD to Associate Research Fellows working on fundamental science and applied research of atomically thin materials.

Entry Requirements
You should have or expect to achieve at least a 2:1 Honours degree, or equivalent, in Physics, Engineering or Material Science.  Experience in material physics, energy and advanced mathematics is desirable

The majority of the studentships are available for applicants who are ordinarily resident in the UK and are classed as UK/EU for tuition fee purposes.  If you have not resided in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship, you are not eligible for a maintenance allowance so you would need an alternative source of funding for living costs. To be eligible for fees-only funding you must be ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU.  For information on EPSRC residency criteria click here.

Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are NOT eligible for funding. International students interested in studying at the University of Exeter should search our funding database for alternative options.


Application deadline:10th January 2018
Value:3.5 year studentship: UK/EU tuition fees and an annual maintenance allowance at current Research Council rate. Current rate of £14,553 per year.
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Doctoral

How to apply

You will be required to upload the following documents:
•       CV
•       Letter of application outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to
        undertake the project.
•       Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained.  This should be an interim
        transcript if you are still studying.
•       If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your current
        proficiency in English.  For further details of the University’s English language requirements please see

The closing date for applications is midnight (GMT) on Wednesday 10 January 2018.  Interviews will be held at the University of Exeter in late February 2018.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email:
Project-specific queries should be directed to the supervisor.

During the application process, the University may need to make certain disclosures of your personal data to third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates.  These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:

• the selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs;
• administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant programme.

Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data (relating to disability and race/ethnicity) will not be disclosed without your explicit consent.