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EPSRC DTP PhD Studentship in Numerical Modelling of Spin Ice Dynamics

   Cardiff School of Physics and Astronomy

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  Dr F Flicker, Dr S Ladak, Dr Georgina Klemencic  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

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

Why can't you pull the north pole off a magnet? If you try to cut a magnet in half you get two smaller magnets, each with a north and south pole. Repeat this process and you ultimately end up with a single atom with a magnetic moment, which again has both poles. Essentially, the answer is that while there are particles with electric charge (electric 'monopoles', such as electrons) there are no magnetically charged particles -- magnetic monopoles -- in our universe.

However, there is growing evidence that this is not the whole story [1]. In 1997 a mysterious new type of magnet was discovered, called a spin ice. Our leading theories suggest that the magnetic fields of individual ions in these crystals orient themselves so as to create local sources and sinks of magnetization, which bear a striking resemblance to magnetic monopoles. Recent numerical [2] and experimental work [3] indicates that magnetic monopoles produce unique signatures in the fluctuations of the magnetic field around spin ice crystals, signatures known as 'pink noise'.

This project is aimed at understanding how monopoles generate pink noise; how that understanding might be used to definitively prove the monopoles' existence; and how we might put this understanding to use in developing technological applications. The work will combine numerical approaches (kinetic Monte Carlo) with analytical modelling. Topics will include noise spectra, fractal percolation clusters, loop erased random walks, out-of-equilibrium dynamics, and glassy behaviour.

While the work is theoretical in nature, there is scope to engage with experimental colleagues, and the project will be co-supervised by two experimentalists. The models developed for spin ices will be applicable to the artificial spin ice structures, arrays of nanometre-scale magnetic domains which capture the key features of spin ices, developed by the group of Dr S. Ladak. These same structures are being made superconducting by the group of Dr G. Klemencic, offering the possibility to include quantum effects into the work.

The project includes substantial external funding for personal development, including public speaking and media training. There is also funding available for 3 months' salary to undertake an industrial placement if desirable. Both are part of the supervisory team's commitment to Responsible Innovation.


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 (Prof. Sean Giblin, and co-supervisors Dr Sam Ladak and Dr Georgina Klemencic) 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 27/01/23. All applications should be submitted via the online application portal, SIMS:  


Applicants should apply 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  

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 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.   

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.  

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.  


[1] See Dr Flicker's Royal Institution lecture for an overview: youtube.com/watch?v=S3xH97Su-KY
[2] F. K. K. Kirschner, F. Flicker et al., Physical Review B 97, 140402(R) (2018)
[3] R. Dusad, ... F. Flicker et al., Nature 571, 234 (2019)

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