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Funding and scholarships for students

Award details

Magnetoelectric material based miniaturized and multifunctional antennas (enhanced stipend) Ref: 5052

About the award

Supervisors

Prof Alastair Hibbins, Professor of Metamaterial Physics

Dr Rupam Das, Lecturer in Electronic Engineering

Location

Department of Physics, Streatham Campus, Exeter

Summary

The University of Exeter’s Centre for Metamaterial Research and Innovation (CMRI) with Dstl, is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship with enhanced stipend. For eligible students, the studentship will cover home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £21,622 (UKRI rate + £3,000) for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. There is also a budget to support your research project and training of at least £15,000.  The student would be based in the Department of Physics and Astronomy within the Centre for Metamaterials Research and Innovation at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.

Anticipated start: Sept 2024

Project Description

The main hurdle in advancing antenna technology is the issue of miniaturization. Traditional antenna’s function based on electromagnetic (EM) wave resonance and their size is typically larger than one tenth of the EM wavelength, λo. This restricts the potential for antenna size reduction, complicating the achievement of compact antennas and antenna arrays. This issue is especially prominent at very-high frequency (VHF, 30–300 MHz) and ultra-high frequency (UHF, 0.3–3 GHz) ranges with larger λo, severely limiting the possibilities for wireless communication systems.

In contrast, recent advancements have shown that a strong strain-mediated magnetoelectric (ME) coupling in magnetic/piezoelectric heterostructures can effectively enable energy transfer between magnetic and electric fields [Lage, E. et al. Exchange biasing of magnetoelectric composites. Nat. Mater. 11, 523–529 (2012); Bibes, M. Towards a magnetoelectric memory. Nature 7, 425–426 (2008)]. If this strong ME coupling can be dynamically achieved at radio frequencies (RF) within ME heterostructures, it may enable voltage-induced RF magnetic currents capable of radiating EM waves. Additionally, it could potentially lead to the creation of acoustically actuated ME antennas with a novel mechanism for transmitting and receiving EM waves. This concept has been recently proposed in theory [Domann, J. P. & Carman, G. P. Strain powered antennas. J. Appl. Phys. 121, 044905 (2017)].

The ME antenna operates at their acoustic resonance rather than EM resonance. Considering that the acoustic wavelength is around five orders of magnitude shorter than the EM wavelength at the same frequency, these ME antennas are likely to be of sizes like the acoustic wavelength. As such, they can be significantly smaller than current compact antennas, offering a considerable reduction in size. Creating multifunctional ME antennas involves utilizing multiferroic materials that exhibit the primary ferroic properties of ferromagnetism, ferroelectricity, and ferroelasticity. Composed of two essential thin-film components—piezoelectric and magnetostrictive materials, the ME antenna operates through a sequence of interactions between these components.

(a) Schematic diagram of a conceptual ME (magneto-electric) antenna array. It highlights the GSG (ground-signal-ground) configuration, delineates the various material layers, provides a cross-sectional view, and depicts an individual antenna unit cell. (b) Illustrates the working principle of the ME antenna, demonstrating its functionality in both transmission and reception modes. Additionally, it outlines the specific modules that will be utilized for simulation within the COMSOL environment.

This PhD project aims to focus on the innovative development of multifunctional ME (Magneto-Electric) antennas by understanding ferroic properties, creating efficient prototypes, and evaluating potential applications. The key objectives include material analysis and selection of appropriate piezoelectric and magnetostrictive materials, development of computational models for simulating antenna behavior, creation of prototypes through design and fabrication, comprehensive laboratory testing to assess performance, and comparison of ME antennas with traditional RF antennas in terms of size reduction, multifunctionality, and other potential advantages.

For further information on the project, please contact the supervisors via metamaterials@exeter.ac.uk

About the Centre for Metamaterials Research & Innovation

You would be joining the doctoral training programme at the Centre for Metamaterial Research and Innovation (CMRI) at the University of Exeter.  We support all our students in developing their scientific knowledge whilst also providing transferable and technical skills training to prepare them for careers within and outside of academia.

The PhD students learn together in targeted courses, self-driven activity groups, and 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. We are now home to a diverse community of over 30 active PhD students (Postgraduate Researchers, PGRs) who are training in a stimulating, challenging yet supportive cohort-based environment. Since 2018, over 65 graduates have entered employment in industry and as postdocs in Higher Education Institutions in and outside of the UK.

The Award

This award provides annual funding to cover Home tuition fees and a tax-free stipend.  For students from the UK who pay Home tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £21,622 per year tax-free stipend (UKRI rate + £3,000, increasing each year as per UKRI standard PhD stipend).  There is also a budget to support your research project and training of at least £15,000. The conditions for eligibility of home fees status are complex and you will need to seek advice if you have moved to or from the UK (or Republic of Ireland) within the past 3 years or have applied for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3.5 years of full-time study. 

For further information on the project, please contact the supervisors via metamaterials@exeter.ac.uk.

Entry requirements

Due to funder restrictions, applications are are limited to those able to gain UK security clearance.

Applications are made to the Metamaterials programme for a PhD in Physics/Engineering.

Please ensure to upload ALL items listed below through our application system. Incomplete applications cannot be processed.

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 Physics or an appropriate area of science or technology. 

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 7.0 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

To apply for funding, you must do so by clicking on the ‘apply now’ button above. 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

  • You will need to provide a COVER LETTER that indicates your preferred area of study and/or preferred project,
  • You will also need to upload a PERSONAL STATEMENT. We recommend that you describe (a) why you would like to study for a PhD; b) why you would like to focus on the identified area/project, c) any relevant expertise and d) your future career ambitions. We would also encourage you to describe the qualities that you believe will make you a great researcher (in particular as part of a team). Note: these details are not given in the application process but shortlisting will include assessment against these criteria.

You will also need to upload

  • CV
  • 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. Please indicate this when you upload their details.
  • 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.

We intend to undertake interviews and make offers on a rolling basis following the deadline.

Note that we cannot accept references from personal/private email accounts, unless it is a scanned document on institutional headed paper and signed by the referee.

All application documents must be submitted in English. Certified translated copies of academic qualifications must also be provided (if applicable).

We foster creativity and utilisation of individual strengths. Applicants are encouraged to provide evidence to support their statements. This might include conventional written documents (e.g., examples of work), but we also encourage alternatives such as audio or video recordings, websites, programming etc. Please ensure to include accessible links to such files in an appropriately named document as part of the upload process

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

Application procedure

Shortlisting

Applications will normally be reviewed within two weeks of receipt. Candidates will be short-listed against a set of agreed criteria to ensure quality while maintaining diversity. Failure to include all the elements listed above may result in rejection.

The essential criteria

• Undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline;
• Vision and motivation (for research & professional development);
• Evidence of the ability to work collaboratively and to engage in a diverse community;
• Evidence of excellent written and oral skills in English.


The highest quality candidates will also be able to demonstrate one of more of the following:
• Specialist knowledge about one or more of our research areas (see www.metamaterial.center);
• Training in research methodology (e.g., undergraduate research projects);
• Research outputs (e.g., papers) and/or other indicators of academic excellence (e.g. awards).

Interviews

Shortlisted candidates will normnally be invited to an entry interview to assess fit to the cohort-based docotoral training programme, criteria above, and academic suitability.  

Interviews are expected to start within two weeks upon application receipt. It is therefore advisable to apply as soon as possible.

Summary

Application deadline:31st March 2024
Number of awards:1
Value:For eligible students the studentship will cover Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £21,622 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Metamaterials admissions tutor metamaterials@exeter.ac.uk