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Exposing the nanoscale ultrafast dynamics of Dirac systems via near-field terahertz spectroscopy

   Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering

  , ,  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

To create energy-efficient, faster '21st century devices' that can impact a range of sectors, including healthcare, wireless communication, defence, security and clean energy, integrated photonic, electronic and quantum technologies are essential. Advanced functional materials, including graphene and topological insulators, have emerged as potential building blocks for these technologies. Dirac materials, in particular, have attracted significant attention, owing to the intrinsic high electron mobility and doping tunability provided by their linear dispersion relation. These materials also host several exotic quantum phenomena, such as Dirac surface plasmons and hyperbolic plasmon phonon polaritons.

To date, it is has been difficult to observe these phenomena and harness the ultrafast spin-polarised surface currents within these materials in devices, due to the lack of surface-sensitive, non-destructive techniques that can map optoelectronic properties on sub-micron length scales. Terahertz spectroscopy has already been proven as a powerful non-contact tool for measuring the electrical conductivity of a material. By looking at the THz radiation transmitted/reflected through/from a sample, key optoelectronic properties, such as electron mobility and carrier concentration, can be extracted in a non-contact fashion. By combining scanning near-field optical microscopy with terahertz spectroscopy, spatial resolution on the of <30nm spatial resolution can also be achieved, enabling the local ultrafast carrier dynamics of 2D materials and nanostructures to be examined.

In this project, we will utilise this technique to investigate plasmon dynamics in a range of 2D material systems, including lithographically patterned and chemically synthetisized graphene nanoribbons, graphene/topological insulator heterostructures, gold crystals on grapheneetc. Following this, we will also investigate these systems in device architecture and assess the effect of gating on their behaviour.

To achieve the key aims for this project, the student will be expected to:

·        Conduct far-field terahertz spectroscopy on 2D materials and nanostructures and study their microscale optoelectronic properties.

·        Perform near-field terahertz and midinfrared microscopy on 2D material systems and study their nanoscale optoelectronic properties.

·        Supplement terahertz experiments with other optical techniques, eg. Raman, PL, to provide further understanding of the nanoscale optoelectronic properties of these materials.

·        Conduct device fabrication on 2D materials. 

You should hold a Bachelors qualification in a relevant subject at minimum UK 2:1 or recognised International equivalent. This project will suit a candidate with some experience in one or more of terahertz, optics, nanotechnology, ultrafast lasers, ultrafast spectroscopy, microscopy techniques, Dirac and/or topological physics. 

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact. We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status. 

We also support applications from those returning from a career break or other roles. We consider offering flexible study arrangements (including part-time: 50%, 60% or 80%, depending on the project/funder). 

All appointments are made on merit.

Funding Notes

Funding for studentship at UKRI rates for a period of 3.5 years with a fee waiver

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