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Artificial Magnetic Conductor Surfaces for Conformal Antenna Design

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  • Full or part time
    Prof J R Sambles
    Prof A P Hibbins
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

External partner: Defence Science and Technology Laboratories (DSTL)

Metamaterials are a rapidly developing area of modern physics and technology that have enormous potential. This has been created in part by the realisation of extraordinary negative index material, leading to perfect focussing, zero-index materials with infinite internal wavelength as well as Harry Potteresque ‘cloaking’.
This project will take the existing excellence in Metamaterials research at Exeter to go on to explore entirely novel structures for applications at microwave frequencies. The work forms part of a very strong collaboration with, and is fully sponsored by, the UK Government agency, Defence Science and Technology Laboratories (Dstl).

Fundamental physics underpins all fast data handling and communications, from microwaves with mobile phones to light in optical fibres as well as imaging devices such as Radar. The next generation communications devices (5G and 6G) and Radar will use higher microwave frequencies, some pushing up to THz. All these technologies rely on source and detector antennas but many of these can be bulky (for example TV aerials) and there is a need for ‘flat’ antennas which may be placed directly on metallic surfaces such as on autonomous vehicles, aircraft or ships. However physics dictates that such metallic surfaces (electric mirrors) will kill the antenna signal as the reflected signal from the metal will be in ant-phase with that emitted from the antenna. Over the past decade to overcome this we have helped develop a range of metallic metasurfaces, which act as ‘magnetic’ mirrors (Artificial Magnetic Conductors, AMCs). This means that radiating antennas may be placed directly upon them without loss of performance. Unfortunately such AMCs generally only function well over a narrow frequency range which limits their applicability.

This demanding project will take these metasurface ideas much further by exploring the wide range of options with single and bilayer patterned surfaces potentially combined with high permeability spacer materials to provide novel lightweight low profile antenna AMCs. These will be designed to allow antennas to operate on curved as well as flat metallic surfaces and over an increased bandwidth.

The work involved ranges from very fundamental physics, through modelling and on to device design, fabrication and testing. The successful applicant must have a very good degree in Physics or Electrical Engineering and be a UK or EU National.

Funding Notes

The 4 year studentship is fully funded by the Defence and Security Technoly Laboratory (Dstl). It is of value around £129,000, which includes £15,000 towards the research project (travel, consumables, equipment etc.), tuition fees, and an annual, tax-free stipend of approximately £18,300 per year for UK/EU students.

Eligible candidates: UK/EU nationals only due to industry sponsor requirements.

How good is research at University of Exeter in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 40.20

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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