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Leeds I: Interaction of surface acoustic waves and magnetic thin films

  • Full or part time
    Dr T A Moore
    Prof J E Cunningham
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 17, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

A promising route to low-power nanomagnetic data storage and computing devices is to apply a voltage to a piezoelectric material that exerts strain on an adjacent magnetic thin film and manipulates its properties via magnetoelasticity. As a proof-of-principle, we have used a piezoelectric to apply strain to a Co/Pt multilayer, a magnetic thin film with preferred magnetization direction out-of-plane, and studied how strain modifies the energy barrier for magnetization switching. Films with magnetization out-of-plane are suitable for scaling to the smallest devices and will be used in this project. Using a time-varying strain, such as that provided by surface acoustic waves has the potential for focusing or interference to manipulate magnetic spin structures.

This project will combine the internationally leading expertise in surface acoustic waves in the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering with that in thin film magnetism in the School of Physics and Astronomy at Leeds to study the interaction of the surface acoustic waves with magnetic multilayer films such as Co/Pt. The films will be sputter-grown onto substrates that support surface acoustic waves. Lithographic techniques will be used to define surface acoustic wave transducers and pattern magnetic films, and high-frequency transport and magnetic imaging techniques will be used to characterise them.

General requirements:

• Be fluent in English
• Have not been a resident or have conducted your main activity (studies, work, etc.) for more than 12 months within the last three years in the PhD position’s host country.
• Be in the first four years of your research career. This is measured from the date you obtained a degree that allows you to enroll in a PhD program.
• Have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree

Specific requirements/skills:


• A good undergraduate degree/Masters (2:1 or above, or equivalent) in Physics or Applied Physics
• The flexibility to travel throughout the European Union;
• Experience of undertaking academic research, including experimental work;
• Good interpersonal and communication skills, both written and verbal, and the ability to communicate effectively with a wide range of stakeholders;
• Good time management and planning skills, with the ability to meet tight deadlines and manage competing demands effectively;
• A proven ability to work well both independently and as part of a team;
• A strong commitment to your own continuous professional development.


• Evidence of contributing to papers in internationally recognized, peer-reviewed journals or evidence of publishable research in progress;
• Undergraduate level knowledge and experience of condensed matter or materials physics, in terms of both theoretical and experimental methods.

This PhD position will be carried out in the framework of the EU’s Marie Sklodowska Curie Innovative Training Network MagnEFi which includes 11 partners, both academic (8) and industrial (3), located in France, Germany, Italy, Finland, Spain, England and the Netherlands. We will work together to develop a unique integrative approach to electric-field control of magnetism. Innovative electric-field control schemes based on Strain (S), Gating (G) and Light (L) will be thoroughly investigated and combined to produce a new class of enhanced multifunctional spintronics devices with S+G, S+L and G+L capabilities.

The benefits of this project for you and the future of your career are many fold, here's a few key aspects that MagnEFi can offer you:

• Working on the forefront of one of the most promising topics in spintronics in an international team lead by world recognised EU experts in the field.
• Benefiting from the extensive training program which includes basic and modern aspects of spintronics as well as of other exiting emerging fields such as artificial intelligence but also includes entrepreneurship, scientific writing, communication skills and intellectual property.
• Visiting other partners of the network to learn about their specific techniques and to establish collaborations which will interconnect experimenters and theorists, basic scientists and engineers, and academia and industry.
• Being granted a prestigious EU fellowship with a very competitive salary including mobility and family allowance.
• Establishing a professional network with leading scientists in academia and industry.
• Being prepared for the future after your PhD, training also includes courses on writing competitive job applications for academia and industry, writing high-impact research proposals as well as on preparing job interviews.

Enquiries email name and address:

1) Thomas Moore ()
2) John Cunningham ()

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