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"Hands-on" molecules: using microwave metamaterials as analogues of molecular systems

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, December 31, 2019
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Joint supervisors: Prof Bill Barnes, Dr Ian Hooper

External partner: Prof Frank Spano (Temple Univeristy, USA)


Statement of Research

Molecular aggregates are an important and interesting class of materials particularly in the context of optical (pigmented) materials, both in nature and in synthetic materials, for example in semiconducting polymers for solar cells and light emitting diodes (Spano, Ann Rev Phys Chem (2014) 65 p477).

However, there is a serious sub-wavelength problem in studying such aggregates. Typically inter-molecular separations are very much smaller than the wavelengths associated with the optical transitions of the pigments so that the interactions between the molecules in an aggregate are dominated by near-field interactions, typically of a dipole-dipole character. Despite the near-field nature of the inter-molecular interactions involved, optical investigations are almost universally based on far-field optical spectroscopy techniques, making, for example, the role of disorder and noise very difficult to investigate in a systematic way. In this PhD the student will explore an alternative approach, one that involves making cm-scale analogues of molecular aggregates based on microwave-domain metamaterials.

An excellent start in this area has been made by two previous CDT PhD students, Seetharaman and Baraclough [Seetharaman et al. Phys Rev B (2017) 96 p085426, Baraclough et al. Phys Rev B (2018) 98 p085146, and Seetharaman et al. for submission to Nature Photonics]. The student will develop and very significantly extend the use of these radio-frequency (RF) molecular aggregate analogues to help us better understand some of the processes involved in molecular systems, e.g. the role of disorder in defining the extent of coherent modes supported by the aggregate. The student will build 1 and 2D structures (chains, sheets and tubes) from meta-molecules (split-ring resonators etc.) to mimic some of the different molecular structures found in nature.

Funding Notes

This exciting 3.5 year project is for self-funded students only. You need to be able to cover at least fees (UK/EU approx. £4,320 per year; International approx. £23,700 per year) and your living expenses (minimum of £15,000 per year is recommended).

How good is research at University of Exeter in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 40.20

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

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