Magnetization Dynamics of Nanoparticle Assemblies Within a Cellular Environment - Physics - EPSRC DTP funded PhD Studentship Ref: 2952

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. R. J. Hicken
Prof. J. Moger

Streatham Campus, Exeter

Project Description
A PhD studentship is available in association with an EPSRC-funded project to study the magnetization dynamics of magnetic nanoparticle assemblies embedded within a cellular environment. 

Application of an AC magnetic field causes the magnetization of the nanoparticles to oscillate and dissipate energy as heat.  The targeted delivery of heat provides a potential means of destroying malignant cells for use as a cancer therapy.  However it is observed that the behaviour of the nanoparticles in a cellular environment is modified with respect to that of an isolated nanoparticle in suspension.  Therefore the underlying aim of the EPSRC-funded project is to construct an optical microscope that is able to detect simultaneously both the dynamic response of the magnetization through the Faraday effect, and also the associated local heating by means of fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM).  The completed instrument will be a powerful tool for the development of the magnetic hyperthermia technique. 

The studentship will focus on the detection of magnetization dynamics, and will begin with the development of a high frequency (up to 1 MHz) electromagnet with optical access that can be incorporated into a scanning laser microscope. Spectroscopic Faraday measurements will be performed to determine the optimum optical wavelengths for linear magneto-optical measurements on specific nanoparticles. 

The project will then focus on the exploration of non-linear optical contrast mechanisms as an alternative to the linear Faraday effect.  Measurements will be made in the Exeter multi-photon imaging laboratory where imaging of non-magnetic biological materials is already performed by means of non-linear techniques such as second harmonic generation, multi-photon scattering, and coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering.  There will be opportunity to make research visits to the University of Keele where functionalised magnetic nanoparticles are being produced and where the FLIM technique will be implemented in parallel to the work in Exeter.

Entry Requirements
Applicants should possess at least a 2(i) degree in Physics, Materials Science, Electrical Engineering, or a closely related discipline.  Knowledge of core physics material such as Electromagnetism and Condensed Matter Physics is essential, while experience of Optics and Magnetic Materials would be of advantage.

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.

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• 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.