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Detecting Weak Magnetic Fields Through Nano-mechanical Motion

Project Description

The University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) hosts the UK’s flagship research programme on photonic metamaterials - a new generation of nanotech-enabled materials with engineered, actively controllable optical properties (see: Science 348, 973 (2015); Nature Nanotechnology 11, 16 (2016);

One of the central themes of our research programme is the development of metamaterials comprising nanoscale building blocks that can be moved by external forces [e.g. due to electrical/magnetic signals or light illumination; see: Nature Nanotechnology 11, 16 (2016)]. Nanoscale motion of this kind can radically change the optical properties of matter and will enable the development of a new generation of optical devices such as re-focusable flat lenses, dynamic holographic displays, optical components with programmable properties, and micro-sensors of electromagnetic fields and forces. This PhD project will look at the intriguing physics of the interplay between electromagnetic and mechanical forces at the nanoscale and will aim to develop practical nano-mechanical metamaterial-enabled photonic sensor devices.

Students with a background in physics, an interest in photonic technologies, and a desire to develop advanced skills in nanofabrication, electron and optical microscopy, experimental photonics and computational electromagnetic modelling, would be a good fit to this exciting project area. You will join a strong international group of students, postdoctoral and academic staff working together on many aspects of cutting-edge nanophotonics.

To discuss any details of the project informally, or to arrange a visit to meet us and see our facilities, please contact Eric Plum [] or Nikolay Zheludev [].

The PhD programme:

The ORC PhD provides a solid education for a research career ( The structured first year involves attending our training programme running in parallel with carrying out your research project. This provides a smooth transition from your degree course towards the more open-ended research that takes place in the following years under the guidance of your project supervisors. We expect our students to present their work at major international conferences and to write papers in leading academic journals as their research progresses.

The ORC is a world-leading photonics research organisation of around 200 research staff and students, famous for the development of novel photonic technologies underpinned by cutting-edge research in materials. Its mission is to combine applications-led research with fundamental studies into the generation, transmission and control of light. A PhD here has enabled our past graduates to make successful careers in academia, in national scientific laboratories, and as scientists or business leaders in industry.

Key facts:

• Apply online:
• Entry requirements: First or upper second-class degree or equivalent.
• English language: IELTS 6.0, with a minimum of 5.5 in each component (for information on other accepted English Language tests, please visit
• Closing date: Applications for 2018 entry are open now; early application is strongly advised.
• Duration: up to 4 years (full-time).
• Start date: Typically September/October but other dates are possible.
• Assessment: periodic written reports and viva voce examinations determine progression; PhD award is subject to final thesis submission and viva voce examination.

Funding Notes

A fully-funded PhD position is available including paid tuition fees and a tax-free bursary to cover your living expenses.
Applicants must be a UK or EU nationals (dual nationals may be considered).

How good is research at University of Southampton in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 84.25

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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