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Van der Waals 2D systems with spin texture, and their manipulation


   Department of Physics

  Dr Adelina Ilie, Prof Alain Nogaret  Sunday, June 27, 2021  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Bath United Kingdom Experimental Physics Nanotechnology Quantum Mechanics Solid State Physics

About the Project

The University of Bath is inviting applications for the following funded PhD project in the Department of Physics

Funding is available to candidates who qualify for Home fee status. Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, the rules governing fee status have changed and, therefore, candidates from the EU/EEA are advised to check their eligibility before applying. Please see the Funding Eligibility section below for more information.

Materials and more complex systems able to sustain local, non-colinear spin texture (where the electron spin changes orientation within a localized region) are hailed as game changers in spintronics and spin-based information storage; as well as platforms for quantum computation implementations. Such textures are promoted by chiral magnetic interactions – these can originate in systems with large spin-orbit coupling with breaking of inversion symmetry. Add to this two-dimensional (2D) confinement, and the region within which the spin inversion takes place localizes laterally within a few nanometers.

2D van der Waals, graphene-like layers of two-dimensional materials are by their very nature atomically thin, while their stacking allows a plethora of unconventional interfaces to be created. In this project we propose to create and investigate two types of 2D van der Waals systems: (i) 2D multiferroic materials with spin texture; and (ii) heterostructures between 2D ferromagnets and 2D materials with strong spin-orbit coupling.

Experimentally, we will use multiple types of atomically-resolved Scanning Probe Microscopy, at cryogenic temperatures, to reveal, investigate and manipulate such localised spin textures so as to enable control of magnetism. In selected systems the occurrence of magnetic states will also be probed using magnetoresistance measurements of devices. The growth of the 2D van der Waals systems will build on various materials and methods experimented on in the group (including in ultra-high vacuum), and be supported by structural studies (by Angle-Resolved Photoemission Spectroscopy and diffraction techniques) at local and national/international facilities.

The project affords an excellent opportunity for training at the interface between quantum technologies, condensed matter physics, and nanomaterials, and involves direct experience within the topical field of 2D materials, which is the most active field in solid state physics currently. It will be supervised by Dr Adelina Ilie (lead supervisor; atomic-scale investigations with STM/AFM, and growth of 2D layers and heterostructures) and Prof Alain Nogaret (background in nanomagnetic and spin-related devices), and will benefit from international collaborations with specialist theory groups. 

Candidate Requirements:

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent). A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement.

Enquiries and Applications:

Informal enquiries are welcomed and should be directed to Dr Adelina Ilie ().

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Physics (full-time).

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.

Note: Applications may close earlier than the advertised deadline if a suitable candidate is found; therefore, early application is recommended.

Funding Eligibility:

In order to be considered for the PhD scholarship, you must qualify as a Home student. In determining Home student status, we follow the UK government’s fee regulations and guidance which may be found on the website of the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA). As a general guide, the main categories of students usually eligible for Home fee status will be:

  • UK nationals (who have lived in the UK, EU, EEA or Switzerland continuously since September 2018)
  • Irish nationals (who have lived in the UK or Ireland continuously since September 2018)
  • EU/EEA applicants with pre-settled status or settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme (who have lived in the UK, EU, EEA, Switzerland or Gibraltar continuously since September 2018)
  • Applicants with indefinite leave to enter/remain in the UK (who have been resident in the UK continuously since September 2018)

EU/EEA citizens who live outside the UK are unlikely to be eligible for Home fees and funding.

Additional information may be found on our fee status guidance webpage and on the GOV.UK website.


Funding Notes

The successful student will be funded by 'The Mirai PhD Scholarship in Nanomaterials and Devices for Quantum Technologies'. The funding includes Home tuition fees, a stipend (£15,609 per annum, 2021/22 rate) and an allowance for laboratory/training expenses for up to 3.5 years. Eligibility criteria apply – see Funding Eligibility section above. We also welcome applications from students who have can fully fund their own studies.
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