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Award details

Spin Qubits in 2D Materials Ref: 4147

About the award


Statement of Research:

Quantum networks promise to revolutionise computing and communication, with the underlying idea to link individual or small clusters of qubits via a photonic channel. Amongst many potential architectures, colour centres in wide bandgap semiconductors provide a versatile platform and considerable progress has been made, particularly with the negatively charged nitrogen vacancy in diamond (NV) (see ref. 1 for a recent review). NV-centres fulfil many of the criteria necessary for a spin qubit, but also have several inherent disadvantages. Most notably, NV centres have poor optical properties and scalability is hindered by the challenge of fabricating devices from diamond. Colour centres in hBN [2] are an interesting alterative and have shown considerable early promise, thanks to their excellent optical properties, potential for photonic integration and recently the report of optically detected spin resonance [3]. This project will build on our recent work, using multicolour laser excitation to control and stabilise hBN colour centres [4], with an integrated microwave and photonic platform to control and investigate their spin properties. Ultimately, this will allow us to probe their potential as a spin qubit, with applications in quantum information, communication and nanoscale sensing.

This project will be funded by an EPSRC ICASE award and the successful candidate will work with Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology, including research placements at their Technology and Applications Laboratories.

The 4 year studentship is jointly funded by an Industrial Cooperative Awards in Science & Technology (ICASE) award from EPSRC and Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology. It is of total value around £119,000, which includes approximately £20,000 towards the research project (travel, consumables, equipment etc.), tuition fees, and an annual, tax-free stipend starting at approximately £17,500 per year for UK/EU students (see for further information about individual fee status).

About the CDT in Metamaterials (XM2).

XM2 is the doctoral training programme of our Centre for Metamaterial Research and Innovation at the University of Exeter. We provide scientific knowledge as well as transferable and technical skills training to all our students to prepare them for careers within and outside of academia.

In 2014, we started off as a £12 million Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Metamaterials, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC/EP/L015331/1), the University of Exeter and industry.

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.

XM2 now consists of more than 60 active PhD students (Postgraduate Researchers, PGRs) from the UK, the EU and beyond, who are training in a stimulating, challenging yet supportive cohort-based environment. Since 2018, over 30 graduates went into employment in industry and as postdocs in Higher Education Institutions in and outside of the UK.

About the University of Exeter.

The University of Exeter combines world class research with excellent student satisfaction. It is a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive universities. Formed in 1955, the University has over 20,000 students from more than 130 different countries. Its success is built on a strong partnership with its students and a clear focus on high performance. Recent breakthroughs to come out of Exeter's research include the identification and treatment of new forms of diabetes and the creation of the world's most transparent, lightweight and flexible conductor of electricity.

We are one of the very few universities to be both a member of the Russell Group and have a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), evidence of our established international reputation for excellence in both teaching and research. Our success is built on a strong partnership with our students and a clear focus on high performance.

Exeter is also ranked amongst the world’s top 200 universities in the QS and Times Higher Education rankings.


[1] Awschalom et al., Nat. Photonics 12, 516 (2018).

[2] Castelletto et al., Beilstein J Nanotechnol. 11, 740 (2020).

[3] Gottscholl et al., Nature Materials 19, 540 (2020).

[4] Khatri et al., Nano Lett. 20, 4256 (2020).

Entry requirements

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 the 8 research areas listed above;
• Training in research methodology (e.g. undergraduate research projects);
• Research outputs (e.g. papers) and/or other indicators of academic excellence (e.g. awards).


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 may result in rejection.


Shortlisted candidates will be invited to an entry interview to assess fit to the CDT concept. This will be held prior the academic interview with the supervisors and will normally be undertaken by a panel of 3 people, including a current postgraduate researcher or post-doc in Physics or Engineering.

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

Please email if you have any queries about this process.

How to apply

Eligibility: UK and EU nationals only.

Applications are made to the Metamaterials programme for a PhD in Physics/Engineering. We invite candidates to specify their project(s) of interest at the time of application.

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

• Degree transcript(s) giving information about the qualification awarded, the modules taken during the study period, and the marks for each module taken.

• An academic CV;

• A cover letter outlining your research interests in general, the title of the project you are applying for;

o 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;

o Describe the qualities that you believe will make you a great researcher (in particular as part of a team).

• The contact details of two academic referees.

* 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.




Application deadline:30th June 2021
Number of awards:1
Value:Approximately £119,000, including ~£17,000 research and travel budget, tuition fees and annual taxfree stipend (approx. £17,500 per year payable to UK or EU students only).
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Dr. Isaac Luxmoore (Admissions Tutor)