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Imaging Multifunctional Nanomaterials in Three-Dimensions with Coherent X-rays

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, August 31, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Supervisor: Dr. Marcus Newton

Co-supervisor Prof. Steven Collins

Project description

Multifunctional materials that simultaneously exhibit more than one ferroic property including ferromagnetism, ferroelectricity, ferroelasticity or ferrotoroidicity are of great interest because the different properties may work together in different ways and lead to exciting new potential applications, if we could understand this better. For example, the coupling between magnetic and ferroelectric ordering can be utilised to develop low power magnetoelectronic devices (such as non-volatile magnetic computer memory) where the spin polarised transport of electrons can be used to flip magnetic memory bits. As a result there is a vibrant effort to understand the underlying mechanisms at work in bulk and thin film materials. Often the role of crystal defects and other topological structures remains unclear as (to date) no reliable means exists to image in three-dimensions and observe such effects in real-time. In addition, common Li-ion battery cathode materials such as LixCoO2(LCO) allow high capacities and reliable cyclability, but suffer from structural degradation over repeated charging cycles.

The aim of this project is to image time-varying correlated phenomena in a range of multifunctional materials. The results will (1) facilitate in identifying new and potentially novel applications for the materials of interest, (2) provide insight into scale-invariant properties of correlated material systems and (3) provide improved performance of battery materials.

To better understand these materials we will use a technique called Bragg coherent X-ray diffractive imaging (BCXDI) without lenses to reveal how novel phases emerge and influence the material properties. The application of BCXDI to the study of multifunctional materials will enable a wide range of next generation technologies that otherwise are inaccessible due to an incomplete understanding of their properties. The successful candidate will spend approximately 50% of their time on the project working at the Diamond Light Source, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.

Applications are invited from bright and highly motivated students with a background in physics, materials science, inorganic chemistry or a related field. The successful candidates will need to be EU or UK nationals and will have obtained either a First or Upper Second class honours degree.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Marcus Newton. Email:

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 August 2020 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: full tuition for EU/UK Students plus, for UK students, an enhanced stipend of at least £17,000 tax-free per annum for up to 4 years.

How To Apply

Applications should be made online by selecting “PhD in Physics (Full time)” as the programme.

Applications should include:

Research Proposal

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact:

How good is research at University of Southampton in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.80

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

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