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Ultra-fast X-ray Imaging of Nanoscale Quantum Materials

  • 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

Project description

A long standing dream of chemical physics is to directly observe atomic motions during the event of a quantum phase transition from one state to another. The ability to quantitatively observe atomic motions within the transition state region where atoms exchange nuclear configurations would greatly facilitate our understanding of the physical process. This is particularly true for strongly correlated electronic quantum materials where the interaction between the valence electrons can strongly influence the materials properties. Such materials are interesting as their unique properties are of considerable utility for device physics, functional materials and the study of fundamental condensed matter physics.

The aim of this project is to understand the initial stages of the femtosecond structural phase transition in strongly correlated electronic quantum materials such as vanadium dioxide. You will become proficient in the use of femtosecond Bragg coherent X-ray diffraction imaging (BCXDI) for studying femtosecond structural dynamics in nanometre scale quantum materials.

To investigate strongly correlated phenomena you will focus on one or more components to this multidisciplinary project. They include (1) nanoscale materials fabrication and characterisation; (2) time-resolved femto-second Bragg coherent X-ray diffraction imaging (BCXDI); and (3) supercomputing based finite element materials modelling of light-matter interactions.

You will work with an international team of research scientists with a broad range of skills. You will also visit a number of research facilities across the world including the European XFEL facility in Germany, the SACLA XFEL facility in Japan and the Diamond Light Source to perform experiments.

Applications are invited from bright and highly motivated students with a background in physics, materials science, inorganic chemistry or a related field. International students are required to provide evidence of their proficiency in English language skills.

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 £15,009 tax-free per annum for 3.5 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: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/courses/how-to-apply/postgraduate-applications.page

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)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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