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EPSRC DTP PhD Studentship in Aperiodic quantum optical materials

   Cardiff School of Physics and Astronomy

About the Project

The School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University are delighted to offer fully funded EPSRC studentships starting in October 2023. 

Project Summary

The vast majority of condensed matter physics research concerns periodic matter -- crystals. This is due to both the abundance of such materials, and the simplicity with which they can be characterised. However, at the frontiers of the subject we find the design and creation of artificial materials, where aperiodic structures offer advances beyond anything possible in crystalline matter.

A notable example is in the field of topological quantum materials, where the 'tenfold way' quantifies restrictions on a material's behaviour according to certain symmetries and the number of dimensions in which it lives. Yet aperiodic 'quasicrystal' materials have been shown to behave like higher-dimensional crystals in this scheme, leading to the remarkable experimental observation of a four-dimensional quantum Hall effect in a 2D aperiodic waveguide array.

Optical waveguides have been the principal route to realising new 'non-Hermitian' topological matter, which exchanges energy with its environment actively or dissipatively leading to optical gain or loss. The non-Hermitian feature enriches the dynamics of photons defining new topological states of matter. However, all demonstrations have been done only in periodic systems.

This project concerns the theoretical design, and experimental creation, of new aperiodic photonic structures. In particular, the student will explore how photons travel in topological quasicrystals experiencing gain and loss (classical limit) and will further look at the dynamics of single photons in the same structures (quantum limit). Theoretical work will involve analytical calculations of the behaviour of non-Hermitian topological materials based on a tight-binding approach in aperiodic settings, as well as the use of computational modelling for the design of aperiodic structures. Experimental work will involve the creation and characterization of aperiodic waveguide arrays.

Research Environment

The student will present results at weekly group meetings of all three supervisors, Physics Chat, journal clubs, and will attend departmental seminars and colloquia. The student will be provided with opportunities to deliver seminars in other institutions, enabled by the PI’s large network of international collaborations.


Training and Development Opportunities

The project offers unique training and development opportunities in the form of close links with world-leading experimental groups within Cardiff as well as internationally with the PI’s collaborators in the UK, Europe, and North America.

Dr Flicker will utilise his strong track record of public engagement and outreach to train the student in these skills. He recently secured £48,870 for funding his team's outreach activities as part of his EPSRC New Investigator Award to be used, for example, for external public speaking and Media training. The student will be encouraged and supported to write popular science articles on their work for outlets such as Physics World, New Scientist, and Physics Today, and to produce online content.

The student will be similarly supported to take on teaching roles within the school, including small group teaching and informal graduate-level lecturing, and to apply for A/FHEA status. They will be supported to take on leadership roles, such as establishing and running reading groups on specialist topics of interest, and presenting and discussing in weekly group meetings.

Dr Flicker received additional EPSRC funding to pay up to 6 months' salary costs for his PhD students to undertake industrial placements. He would work with the student to lay the groundwork with an appropriate company early on.

How to apply: 

Applications should be received no later than 24/02/23. We reserve the right to close this advert before the deadline should sufficient applications be received.  All applications should be submitted via the online application portal, SIMS:  


Applicants should apply for postgraduate study via the Cardiff University webpages including: 

• your academic CV 

• a personal statement/covering letter 

• two references, at least one of which should be academic 

• Your degree certificates and transcripts to date. 

In the "Research Proposal" section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project. 

In the funding section, please select that you will not be self-funding and write that the source of funding will be “EPSRC DTP” 

 The typical academic requirement is a bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 2:1 in a relevant discipline. We also welcome applications from non-traditional candidates. 

 Applicants whose first language is not English are normally expected to meet the minimum University requirements (e.g. 6.5 IELTS) (https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/international/english-language-requirements


EPSRC DTP studentships are available to home and international students. Up to 30% of our cohort can comprise international students, once the limit has been reached, we are unable to make offers to international students. 

We are still accepting applications from international applicants.  

International students will not be charged the fee difference between the UK and international rate. Applicants should satisfy the UKRI eligibility requirements. 

Cardiff University is committed to support students from a range of backgrounds and circumstances. Where needed, we will work with you to take into consideration reasonable project adaptations (for example to support caring responsibilities, disabilities, other significant personal circumstances) as well as flexible working and part‐time study requests, to enable greater access to a PhD. All our supervisors support us with this aim, so please feel comfortable in discussing further with the listed PhD project supervisor to see what is feasible. 

Cardiff University is committed to supporting and promoting equality and diversity and to creating an inclusive environment for all. We welcome applications from all members of the global community irrespective of age, disability, sex, gender identity, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation. 

 We welcome applications for both full and part-time study and from candidates with non-traditional academic backgrounds. For further information about modes of study, please contact us. 


Applicants are reminded to submit all relevant documents (transcripts, supporting statement, etc) by the deadline. Due to the volume of applications received, incomplete applications will not be considered. 

Funding Notes

The studentship funded by the EPSRC DTP is for 3.5 years and covers tuition fees, an annual tax-free living stipend of in line with UKRI minimum rates (currently £17,668) and includes access to a Research Training Support Grant (currently £4000).  
If you have a disability you may be entitled to a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) on top of your studentship.  

How good is research at Cardiff University in Physics?

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

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