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Engineering electronic states in twisted van der Waals heterostructures

Department of Physics

About the Project

The University of Bath is inviting applications for the following PhD project supervised by Prof Simon Bending (https://researchportal.bath.ac.uk/en/persons/simon-bending) and Dr Enrico Da Como (https://people.bath.ac.uk/edc25/) in the Department of Physics. Our laboratories are part of the Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (CNAN) and the Centre for Photonics and Photonic Materials (CPPM), and have access to state-of-the-art nanofabrication facilities in the David Bullett labs.

Since the first isolation of graphene in Manchester in 2004, our ability to precisely manipulate weakly van der Waals-bonded materials has developed dramatically. It is now possible to assemble single crystalline ‘flakes’ to create atomically abrupt twisted homo- and heterointerfaces, whose properties are only just beginning to be explored [1]. Since these structures do not rely on epitaxial growth this opens up the possibility to build heterostructures from a very wide range of functional materials, including 2D metals, superconductors, ferromagnets, semiconductors and insulators. Moreover, the twist angle between consecutive layers represents a largely unexplored degree of freedom that allows the interfacial coupling and density of states to be tuned, leading to completely new electronic groundstates such as intrinsic superconductivity in bilayer graphene at the magic twist angle [2]. Our recent results reveal the possibility to engineer the charge density wave incommensurability and phonon spectrum in van der Waals (vdW) heterostructures and to realise twist-tuneable superconducting Josephson junctions. Within this project you will explore the coupling and interaction between various electronic order parameters (charge density wave, superconducting, ferromagnetic) with the long-term goal of realising entirely new types of functional “twistronic” devices.

This project is based on interdisciplinary research work combining materials science, quantum transport and optical spectroscopy. The PhD will develop in three main areas:-

Materials preparation:
You will build on our established expertise in the growth of high quality single crystals of 2D materials that can be exfoliated to form thin flakes. You will then use the dry transfer setup we have developed in a nitrogen glovebox to produce precisely controlled twisted vdW heterostructures with high quality interfaces.

Quantum transport:
You will perform carrier transport experiments on stacked flakes at different temperatures and magnetic fields in our cryocooler-based system in order to understand the many-body interactions leading to excitonic insulator and superconducting behaviours.

ARPES & optical spectroscopy:
You will use nano-ARPES (angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy) to characterise single layers and heterojunctions as a function of temperature. This will yield information about the band structure and the formation of gaps at the Fermi surface. This will be complemented by probes to monitor phonons (Raman spectroscopy) and low energy excitations such as plasmons and the CDW gap by IR spectroscopy or femtosecond reflectivity.

Candidate requirements:

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent) in Physics, Electrical Engineering or Physical Chemistry. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Enquiries and applications:

Informal enquiries are welcomed and should be directed to Prof Simon Bending on email address .

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Physics:

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Funding Notes

We welcome all-year-round applications from self-funded candidates and candidates who can source their own funding.


[1] A.K. Geim et al., Nature 499, 419 (2013)
[2] Yuan Cao et al., Nature 556, 43 (2018)

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