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Being a PhD researcher provides you with the exciting prospect of constantly encountering new challenges to solve. Within my research I work on designing and creating magneto-elastic membranes using a generous variety of specialist equipment and facilities.

Being a part of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Metamaterials provides you with a wide range of training opportunities to further your development in skills and academic topics outside of your everyday research.

Elizabeth Martin, Cohort 2016

Science training

Science training

The topics below are an indicative list of subject areas you can expect to cover based on current teaching. Please note that this is subject to change from year to year.

To ensure that you continue to develop your general scientific knowledge, we require you to attend a lecture course of your choice from within the College of Engineering, Maths and Physical Sciences in both your first and second years.

Please see the list of Optional Modules, with links to the module descriptions. You will not be required to undergo the examination for the lecture course, but evidence of notes and problems should be contained within your training portfolio.

This acoustics course, led by Dr Tim Starkey, is run as a first primer for metamaterials and surface waves. Using guided reading and tutorial-style discussions, this course arms participants with some fundamentals of metamaterial physics.

By applying simple acoustic phenomena to demonstrate band gaps, surface waves, absorption, and resonances, we explore how these relate to different research themes across the Centre for Metamaterials Research and Innovation (CMRI).

Run by Prof Rob Hicken, this lecture course considers the static and dynamic properties of magnetic materials before surveying their applications and also some relevant measurement techniques used both in Exeter and beyond.

In Rob’s words, “There are many aspects to magnetic materials but we will consider those that are most likely to be relevant to students working the in the CDT. We will adopt a conceptual approach while measurement techniques will be illustrated with examples from research carried out in Exeter. Some of the measurement techniques may even be useful to those not engaged in magnetics research."

This course, led by Dr Alex Powell, will introduce you to some of the key works and concepts the vast field of microwave metamaterials and antennas. By the end of the course you will be familiar with foundational works and concepts involving control over materials properties, surface waves, 2D & 3d metamaterials, and Antennas. 

You will be given reading material each week to study beforehand, which we will then go over in the form of a guided discussion in the class, with some illustrative practical experiments

Led by Prof Bill Barnes, this two-day workshop will take you on a journey through over a hundred years of scientific literature on plasmonics. Each lecture will focus on one or more seminal articles, and after an introduction to the topic, the paper will be openly discussed. Emphasis will be placed on how numerous strands of science from many varied topic areas have led to the current state-of-the-art, the applications and challenges faced by the field.

Being able to programme or use specific computational software is an essential skill for all scientists and engineers. To ensure you develop these skills you will undertake at least twenty hours of training in this area.

An indicative list of workshops might include the following:

  • Mathematica: An Introduction
  • Mathematica: Programming in the Wolfram Language
  • Mathematica: The wolfram language -visualisation fundamentals
  • Matlab Fundamentals
  • Matlab for data Processing and Visualisation
  • Matlab Programming techniques
  • Labview Core 1
  • Labview Core 2
  • R programming
  • Programming for everybody (Python)

After completion of the workshops you will undertake a project using the skills that you have learnt. This project will relate to one of the workshops you have attended, and could involve writing a Labview project to control an experiment, developing a complex Comsol model, or developing a piece of code to solve a problem using one of the programming languages. The project aim will be decided in conjunction with your supervisor, should be directly related to your research, and would be expected to require approximately 20 hrs to complete.

This training element is to be completed in year 1 of your studies.

Run by Dr Simon Horsley, this lecture course provides an introduction to the theoretical methods used to solve wave propagation problems.

In Simon’s words, “The subject of metamaterials is largely about doing stuff to waves. And all waves have a lot in common, be they ocean, acoustic, or electromagnetic. This course aims to teach some mathematical methods for solving the wave equation. The aim is that you can start to solve the theoretical problems in your research without being reliant on expensive ready-made commercial packages.”

Write About Science is a unique scientific writing workshop run by Mark Buchanan and Justin Mullins, whose joint experience includes writing and editing for Nature, New Scientist and the New York Times. Through lectures, exercises and one-to-one feedback, the course focuses on the fundamentals of good communication and how to use them to produce scientific papers of the highest quality.

Research and knowledge exchange

To provide a platform for experience exchange, we have a yearly PGR Presentation Conference for second and third year CDT PGRs to present to all cohorts. This is an opportunity for students to learn about each other's projects as well as enhancing their presentation skills and providing support for each other in their professional development.

There are also various social activities for PGRs including an away day during induction week, movie nights and Christmas social. These are PGR-driven initiatives.

CDT PGRs must attend the CDT colloquium series as a mandatory activity. The Physics or NEST colloquium or equivalent, where national and international experts will present latest developments in the wider science community, is optional.

Previous guest speakers in our colloquia have included:

  • Prof Fabrizio Scarpa, 'Fractality, Kirigami and patterns: architectures for bioinspired metamaterials', University of Bristol, UK, 14th January 2022
  • Dr Claire Dancer, 'Manufacturing Metamaterials: The Ultimate Materials Engineering Challenge?', University of Warwick, UK, 14th December 2021
  • Dr Jacopo De Ponti, 'Autonomous low-power wireless sensors via graded elastic metamaterials', Politecnico di Milano, Italy, 17th November 2021
  • Prof Marc Holderied, 'Acoustic metamaterials give moths stealth camouflage against bat biosonar' University of Bristol, UK, 12th February 2021
  • Prof Roland Fischer, 'Integration of Metal-Organic Frameworks to Devices: MOF-Derived Electrocatalysts for Water-Splitting and Fuel Cell Applications', Technical University Munich, Germany, 22nd January 2021
  • Prof Isabelle Staude, 'Active Semiconductor Metasurfaces', Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany, 4th December 2020
  • Prof Mario G. Silveirinha, 'Nonreciprocal and Topological Electromagnetics', University of Lisbon, Portugal, 13th November 2020
  • Prof Cinzia Casiraghi, 'Water-based and biocompatible 2D inks: from printed electronics to biomedical applications', University of Manchester, UK, 1st November 2019
  • Prof Steve Barnett, 'Vacuum friction and other puzzles: the subtle nature of optical forces', University of Glasgow, UK, 10th May 2019
  • Prof Maria Kafesaki, 'Chiral metamaterials for advanced polarization control', ESL-FORTH, Greece, 30th November 2018
  • Prof Rachel Grange, 'Strategies to enhance nonlinear optical signals at the nanoscale with Perovskite and semiconductor'
    ETH Zürich, Switzerland, 3rd November 2017