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Development of New Magnetic Imaging Systems Using a Novel Sensor Technology


Dr Ian Terry Friday, April 30, 2021 Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
Durham United Kingdom Electromagnetism Experimental Physics Solid State Physics

About the Project

This project is based on the application of a newly emerging magnetic sensor technology to the imaging of magnetic fields produced by magnetic materials. The sensors operate through the observation of the Photo-Electric Magnetic Resonance in the semiconductor silicon-carbide (SiC). A funded PhD position is available under the supervision of Dr Ian Terry in Physics at the Durham University, UK. 

The Photo-Electric Magnetic Resonance in the semiconductor silicon-carbide (SiC) method is based upon on the manipulation of the spins of electrons associated with deep–level divacancy defects in SiC, the response of these electron spins to magnetic fields and the corresponding spin-dependent photo–ionization of the deep-level defect and detection of the resulting photo-current. Using SiC allows for the development of an electrically-interrogated quantum sensor capable of providing a quantitative measure of magnetic field strengths. This sensor technology is being developed at the University of Durham in collaboration with Heriot-Watt University. You will work with research teams in both universities to develop a novel sub-micron magnetic field imaging system capable of simultaneously determining the vector components of the field from a magnetic sample at a range of temperatures. The imaging system will be tested against standard imaging probes, such as magnetic force and Hall-probe microscopy investigations of arrays of magnetically-hard particles. The project will also investigate the system response to time-varying magnetic fields for the study of dynamical magnetism.

The operational imaging system will be applied to research problems of current interest, such as the study of artificial spin ice (ASI) systems, which are an array of small ferromagnetic islands with magnetic moments that interact and align in a pattern analogous to the arrangement of oxygen-hydrogen bonds in water-ice. Magnetic force microscopy is commonly used to image the static magnetic correlations of the ASI, but dynamical magnetic imaging could be achieved with the SiC magnetic sensors. Another potential application for the imaging system is in the field biomagnetism, where it possible to non-evasively probe electrical activity within a living body that results from, say, the electrical activities of neurons or muscles. There is also an opportunity to work with scientists at ISIS, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory ( to incorporate the new sensor technology into instruments used in neutron scattering and muon spin spectroscopy, providing a local probe of magnetism whilst the large-scale facility measurements are being made. 

This PhD Studentship is due to start in October 2021. 


Entry requirements and Funding: Applicants should have or expect to obtain a first class honours degree or upper second class integrated Masters (or equivalent) in Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science or a related subject. The Scholarship will be offered at the standard UK Research Councils’ rate (currently £15,285; to cover living costs) and will cover tuition fees at the Home/Islands rate (currently £4,407) and may involve undertaking teaching/demonstrating duties during the period of study.

Applying for the Position: The closing date for applications is Friday 30 April 2021, but applications will be reviewed as they are received. The start date is October 2021, but there is flexibility to start later.

Applications are particularly welcome from people in under-represented groups in STEM including female and black and ethnic minority candidates.

For further information or informal enquiries, please contact Dr Ian Terry (), or the Senior Postgraduate Research Administrator ().

To apply please go to Department of Physics : How to apply - Durham University and please note that you will be expected to provide personal details, education and employment history and supporting documentation (Curriculum Vitae, transcript of results, two academic references).

Applications can be made immediately and interviews will be held until the studentship is filled.

About the University: Durham University, founded in 1832, is the third oldest English University. It is in the Top 100 Universities in the world as ranked by Times Higher Education and QS, and the Department of Physics ( is currently ranked 4th in the UK Complete University Guide. Materials Physics is one of the largest, most diverse and dynamic fields in modern physics, encompassing all aspects of the solid and liquid states of matter. This breadth is reflected in the research undertaken at Durham which spans a wide range of subjects from light emitting polymers and solar cell materials to nanoscale magnetics. Our work aims to push forward the forefront of our understanding in the physics of materials using experiment, theory and computation - Centre for Materials Physics (

Funding Notes

Home and International students (inc. EU) are welcome to apply. The studentship is available to Home and International students, includes a full stipend at UKRI rates (currently £15,285 per annum to cover living costs) and will additionally cover tuition fees at the Home rate (currently £4,407 per annum). Also, additional funding is included to cover research costs and local, national and international travel such as conferences.

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