Non-Thermal Optically-Induced Magnetization Reversal for Future Magnetic Data Storage - Physics - EPSRC DTP funded PhD Studentship Ref: 2953

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. V. V. Kruglyak

Prof. E. Hendry

Streatham Campus, Exeter

Project Description
A PhD studentship is available to study non-thermal optically-induced magnetization reversal within the new EPSRC-funded Exeter Time Resolved Magnetism Facility (EXTREMAG).  Non-thermal magnetization reversal may enable magnetic data storage systems such as hard disk drives to write data more quickly.  This will solve the bottleneck problem of how to effectively store the ever-increasing amounts of data acquired in the world today.  The project will address the following questions.  What is the fundamental time limit for deterministic magnetization reversal, and what are the most effective underlying physical mechanisms? 

The project will make use of the ultrafast laser facilities within EXTREMAG.  Typically a first laser pulse will be used to stimulate the magnetization within a multilayered thin film material.  A second pulse will then be used to make determine its response using stroboscopic measurements of the magneto optical Kerr effect.  

The EXTREMAG facility has the flexibility to allow measurements to be made in a range of magnetic field and temperature environments, in a microscope geometry, or using THz radiation as a probe.  Particular attention will be paid to artificial antiferromagnetic and ferromagnetic multi-layered materials in which strong interlayer exchange coupling is mediated by elements such as Ru and Cr.  These materials have the advantage that the coupling and the magnetic anisotropy of the sub-lattices may be tuned continuously by varying the layer thicknesses through the 0.1 – 5 nm range.  Time resolved optical measurements with pump pulses of variable helicity will be made on structures such as Ni3Pt/Ir/Co and FePt/Ru/Co supplied by the ANSIN centre at Queens University Belfast, and by Seagate Technology.  

There will be opportunity to visit our partners to participate in the fabrication and characterisation of samples.

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.

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.