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Development of a nanostructured heating element to explore high temperature materials physics

Project Description

Three-dimensional lithography upon the 100nm-scale is now having a pronounced impact across a range of scientific disciplines. It has enabled the realisation of 3D photonic crystals with stop bands in the visible [1], magnetic micro-robots capable of carrying out targeted drug delivery [2], advanced cell scaffolds for cell differentiation [3] and magnetic nanostructures for advanced 3D data storage architectures [4]. At Cardiff, we have experience in fabricating a variety of 3D nanostructured magnetic and optical materials [4,5,6] and are currently leading a project to significantly improve the resolution that can be obtained.

This studentship seeks to develop a novel 3D nanostructured heating element using a combination of two-photon lithography and processing methodologies. Through careful choice of materials, the heating element is expected to give access to temperatures of order 1000 degrees Celsius, allowing the probe of high temperature physics in a range of nanoscale material systems.

The student will work in the groups of Dr Sam Ladak ( and Prof Oliver Williams ( The student will investigate how the design of nanostructured heating elements impacts their thermal properties. Once optimum heating elements have been realised we will use these to study phase transitions within nanostructured magnetic materials, giving an insight into the physics of spin ordering at high temperature.

This project can be successfully completed in 3.5 years as detailed by the following plan:

Month 0 – 6: Literature review and training upon two-photon lithography (TPL).

Month 7 – 12: Initial designs of micro-heaters and first fabrication of samples.

Month 13 - 24: Further fabrication with pyrolysis to release glassy carbon micro-heaters. Electrical and thermal characterization. Publication 1

Month 25 – 30: Fabrication of nanostructured magnetic materials upon heating elements. Investigation of magnetic properties as a function of temperature (magnetometry). Publication 2.

Month 31 – 36: Further characterization of magnetic properties, this time with emphasis upon magnetic imaging. Publication 3.

Funding Notes

Full UK/EU tuition fees plus stipend matching UKRI Minimum.

Full awards are open to UK Nationals and EU students who meet UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least three years prior to the start of the course including for full-time education.

A small number of awards may also be made available to EU Nationals who do not meet the above residency requirement, provided they have been ordinarily resident in the EU for at least three years before the start of their proposed programme of study.


[1] Fischer et al. Opt. Mater. Express 1, 614 (2011)
[2] Barbot et al. Scientific Reports 6, 19041 (2016)
[3] Koroleva et al. Plos One 10(2), e0118164 (2015)
[4] G. Williams et al. Nano Res.11, 845 (2018)
[5] S. Sahoo et al. Nanoscale 10, 9981 (2018)
[6] R. Thomas et al. Opt. Express 26, 13436-13442 (2018)

Related Subjects

How good is research at Cardiff University in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 19.50

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

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