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Funding and scholarships for students

Award details

All-optical modulation for optical computation and imaging. (CDT in Metamaterials, PhD in Physics/Engineering) Ref: 4333

About the award

Supervisors

Lead Supervisor:

Prof Euan Hendry, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Streatham Campus, University of Exeter

Co-supervisor: 

Prof Jacopo Bertolotti, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Streatham Campus, University of Exeter

Location:

Department of Physics and Astronomy, Centre for Metamaterials Research and Innovation, Streatham Campus, Devon, University of Exeter

The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences  is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in January 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. The studentship will cover Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,609 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. 

This College studentship is open to UK and Irish nationals, who if successful in their application will receive a full studentship including payment of university tuition fees at the home fees rate.

Project Description:

Historically, most computation tasks have been carried out using electric charge. However, all-optical computation and signal processing potentially offers huge increases in speed and reductions in losses. However, while electrons are easy to control with external fields, light can only be manipulated via its interaction within a medium. As a consequence, a lot of research in optical computation focuses on designing devices that can perform a single specific task using the operations allowed by linear optics. To go further than this, optical computation faces a very significant challenge:  it requires a nonlinear process in which multiple optical signals must interact. Unfortunately, most materials exhibit a very weak optical nonlinearity, even under intense illumination by light.

In recent years, a new group of materials, referred to as transparent conductive oxides, have signalled a potential solution: in a narrow spectral region in the near infrared, where the permittivity of the material approaches zero, it has been shown that transparent conductive oxides can display one of the largest and fastest nonlinear optical responses of any material ever discovered [1,2]. Since this initial discovery, it has been shown that the optical nonlinearity of these materials can be further enhanced by spatial patterning [3], or by coupling to plasmon resonances [4].

In this project, using a combination of ultrafast optical measurement and Finite Element Modelling, we will search for the optimal conditions for optical computation using transparent oxide materials. Thin, layered materials will be designed in which the product of two optical signals can be calculated – these will then be tested using state-of-the-art ultrafast laser experiments, in which we will look to perform fundamental optical calculations such as products and convolutions: the building blocks of next generation optical computers.

[1] Science 352, 795  (2016)
[2] Nature Reviews Materials 4, 535 (2019)
[3] Nature Comm. 7,  12892 (2016)
[4] Nature Comm. 12, 1017 (2021)

Cohort-based training in the CDT in Metamaterials:

You will be part of the Centre for Metamaterials Research and Innovation and join its doctoral training programme, the Centre for Doctoral Training in Metamaterials (XM2).

Since 2014, XM2 was and is home to more than 100 PhD students (~55 active, ~50 graduates) and their individual research projects, embedded in strong academic groups and supervisor teams.

The PhD students learn together in targeted courses, self-driven activity groups, and events with exposure to industry to gain scientific background knowledge beyond their areas of expertise, and to equip themselves with transferable professional skills such as creative thinking, project management, and leadership.

To date, our graduates went on to careers in academia and industry, and started to act as role models for the next generation of researchers.

We believe in the benefits of a cohort model that fosters knowledge exchange and peer support to prevent isolation. 

Contact the student advisory group if you'd like to learn more about the CDT from your potential new peers!

 

Entry requirements

This studentship is open to UK and Irish nationals, who if successful in their application will receive a full studentship including payment of university tuition fees at the home fees rate.

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology. 

An undergraduate degree in physics or natural sciences is essential, as is the completion of undergraduate modules in electromagnetism and/or optics.

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.0 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project. 

Alternative tests may be acceptable (see http://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply/english/).

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents. 

Please note our preferred format is PDF, each file named with your surname and the name of the document, eg. “Smith – CV.pdf”, “Smith – Cover Letter.pdf”, “Smith – Transcript.pdf”.

  • CV
  • Letter of Application, including a Personal Statement consisting of two parts*:
    • Describe a) why you would like to study for a PhD, b) why you would like to focus on this particular topic, c) any relevant expertise and d) your future career ambitions;
    • Describe the qualities that you believe will make you a great researcher (in particular as part of a team).
  • Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying).
  • Two references from referees familiar with your academic work. If your referees prefer, they can email the reference direct to metamaterials@exeter.ac.uk quoting the studentship reference number.
  • If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.  Please see the entry requirements information above.

The closing date for applications is midnight on 24th January 2022 .  Interviews will be held online on the week commencing 24th January 2022.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process or the project itself please email metamaterials@exeter.ac.uk

 

Summary

Application deadline:24th January 2022
Value:Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,609 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Dr Isaac Luxmoore (admissions tutor) metamaterials@exeter.ac.uk