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Magnetic nanostructures for low cost, low energy data storage and sensor applications

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  • Full or part time
    Dr D Read
    Dr P Buckle
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Magnetic materials collectively known as ‘spin ice’ have similar properties to those of water ‘ice’. These materials have attracted a great deal of attention, although their properties are still not completely understood. One interesting phenomenon seen in spin ice materials is the emergence of ‘particles’ that have become known as monopoles. These emergent magnetic monopoles can be thought of as ‘magnetic charges’ in analogy to more familiar electrical charges upon which many of our modern-day electronic devices are based. In the same way that electrical charges flow through silicon chips, thus allowing electronic devices to function it might be possible to make useful technological devices from spin ice materials with magnetic charges flowing through them.

Conventional bulk spin ice materials are difficult to make and control but using state of the art nanofabrication facilities available at Cardiff it is relatively straightforward to produce ‘artificial spin ice’ materials which mimic many of the properties seen in ‘real’ spin ice. Constructing artificial spin ice materials from their constituent building blocks gives us exquisite control over their properties and might allow us to harness them for device applications. These materials are made by arranging numbers of small magnets in a regular repeating pattern.

The vast majority of information in datacentres or ‘cloud’ storage is recorded using nanoscale magnetic elements on rotating hard disk drives. It has recently been suggested that artificial spin ice materials might be able to store and process information in a similar way to conventional magnetic storage devices, but potentially at lower cost and with lower overall power consumption. Similar materials may also have utility as magnetic sensors.

The project has four stages (yr 0.0-0.5) literature search, cleanroom & basic nanomagnetism training (yr 0.5-1.5) device fabrication and measurement (yr 1.5-2.5) device development, nanomagnetic modelling; (yr 2.5-3.5) device demonstrations, reporting, viva

Funding Notes

Full UK/EU tuition fees plus stipend matching UKRI Minimum.

Full awards are open to UK Nationals and EU students who meet UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least three years prior to the start of the course including for full-time education.

A small number of awards may also be made available to EU Nationals who do not meet the above residency requirement, provided they have been ordinarily resident in the EU for at least three years before the start of their proposed programme of study


Williams, al. 2017. Two-photon lithography for 3D magnetic nanostructure fabrication. Nano Research (10.1007/s12274-017-1694-0)

Zeissler, al. 2013. The non-random walk of chiral magnetic charge carriers in artificial spin ice. Scientific Reports 3, article number: 1252. (10.1038/srep01252)

Lewis, al. 2010. Fast domain wall motion in magnetic comb structures. Nature Materials 9(12), pp. 980-983. (10.1038/nmat2857)

Related Subjects

How good is research at Cardiff University in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 19.50

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

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