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About the Project

Vacuum tubes (or valve electronics) were a key component of electronic circuits for the first half of the 20th century, crucial for the development of the radio, television, radar, computers, etc. However, with the advent of solid-state semiconductor devices, vacuum tubes were replaced by integrated circuits that could be miniaturised and operated at significantly lower power levels. Nevertheless, vacuum tubes offer superior performance to all semiconductors devices because electrons do not suffer any collisions and therefore electron transport is the fastest possible.

In this PhD you will work at the interface between vacuum science and solid-state physics, utilising conventional semiconductor fabrication techniques to develop novel micro/nano vacuum devices. As part of this project you will be based in the research labs of the Electrical Engineering & Electronics Department at the University of Liverpool and will receive full laboratory and equipment training ( For this project you will also work in collaboration with Sensor City ( and the Electron Microscopy Imaging Centre (

You should ideally have a degree in a physical science (e.g., physics, materials science) or an engineering discipline (e.g., electronic engineering). Masters level students are encouraged to apply. If you have a strong Bachelor’s degree or have relevant experience (e.g., prior project experience, work experience, industry experience, publications, demonstrable interest in the topic, etc.), you are also encouraged to enquire. In exceptional circumstances those with a non-traditional educational background will be considered dependent upon relevant experience. A strong interest and/or familiarity with any of the following: electronics, device physics, device characterisation, semiconductor processing, vacuum science, semiconductors, micro/nanoscale fabrication, charged particle analysis, electromagnetics, Simion, CPO, Comsol, Elmer is desirable but not essential. Applicants will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If you are interested, please email Prof Simon Maher () for further details with the project title in the subject of your email and include a copy of your CV.

Funding Notes

The project is open worldwide, to applicants of any nationality. It is unfunded and applicants are encouraged to contact the Principal Supervisor directly to discuss their application and the project.
The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees and living expenses as well as research costs of £5000 per year.

A fee bursary may be available for well qualified and motivated applicants.

Details of costs can be found on the University website.

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