PhD and MSc Courses

For information on PhD study in the first instance contact the member of academic staff you are interested in working with.
More general information on PhD and MSc study can be found on the postgraduate sections of the School and Photon Science Institute websites.

PhD Projects for Entry 2016/17

The PhD project descriptions listed below are provided to give applicants a flavour of what research study is available. Unless otherwise stated, funding may be available but is not guaranteed, until an application form has been submitted and a formal offer made in writing by the School.

  • Optical Spectroscopy of InGaN/GaN Quantum Wells for Efficient Lighting. Supervisors: Dr David Binks and Prof Philip Dawson

    Supervisors: Dr David Binks david.binks@manchester.ac.uk and Prof Philip Dawson Philip.dawson@manchester.ac.uk

    High efficiency LEDs based on GaN are poised to revolutionize lighting which will have a major environmental impact. GaN-LEDs are so efficient that using them for lighting globally could reduce the world’s total electrical power consumption by 10%.  However, there remain several problems that need to be solved before these complex materials fulfil their potential. We intend to address these in our on-going program, in collaboration with the University of Cambridge.

    The efficiency of light generation of current GaN based quantum well structures is strongly influenced by the low probability of radiative recombination.  This is mainly due to the spatial separation of the electron and hole wave functions caused by the large internal electric field. This behaviour also forms part of the underlying physics of a phenomenon known as ‘efficiency droop’, whereby GaN-based LEDs suffer from reduced efficiency at the high drive currents required to illuminate a room.  We intend to study the optical properties of a new generation of quantum well structures in which the internal electric fields are eliminated.  This can be achieved using:

    1.  Quantum wells based on cubic GaN.  We intend to study such cubic quantum well structures to determine the fundamental light emission processes and then incorporate cubic GaN into light emitting devices with the aim of producing ultra-high brightness light emitting diodes across the visible spectrum.

    2.  Quantum wells grown on different growth planes of hexagonal GaN.  Such non-polar structures can be grown so that the electric fields are eliminated.  At the moment this promise has not been fulfilled, so this project will involve the basic study of the recombination mechanism in non-polar quantum wells.

    The work will be carried out in the Photon Science Institute using a range of dedicated laser-based spectroscopy systems.  The students will also gain experience of such techniques as transmission electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy via the interaction with our collaborators at the University of Cambridge.

     

  • PhD CASE Studentship - Laser Cleaning of Artworks. Supervisor: Dr Mark Dickinson

    A PhD CASE studentship is available starting from September 2017 in Photon Physics, the School of Physics and Astronomy and the Photon Science Institute, University of Manchester.  The project is sponsored by Lynton Conservation, a division of Lynton Lasers Ltd.

    The first laser cleaning tests on artworks were carried out in Venice during the 1970s when Asmus and colleagues used a pulsed ruby laser to selectively remove hard black pollution encrustations from badly decayed marble sculpture.  The control offered by laser cleaning enabled conservators to gently remove unwanted layers without damaging the surface of the sculpture, in a way not possible using mechanical or chemical methods of cleaning.  The use of laser cleaning has become more commonplace during the last fifteen years with the Q-switched Nd:YAG laser (1064 nm) becoming a valuable tool in sculpture and object conservation.  Many of the world’s leading museums now have access to laser cleaning technology.  More recently, interest has grown in the possibilities offered by the Er:YAG laser (2940 nm), particularly in the area of removing unwanted layers (dirt, pollution, adhesives, paint layers) from extremely fragile gilded surfaces, such as antique frames, furniture and metal sculpture.  A thorough evaluation of Er:YAG laser treatment is now required, in order to better understand the mechanisms involved and the effects on the artwork’s surface, to provide the conservation community with the confidence required to accept this new technique.  This will include a comparison with short and long pulse 1064 nm laser radiation and other methods of treatment.
     
    This PhD provides an exciting opportunity for a researcher to play a key role in advancing the conservation of our cultural heritage.  He/she will work closely with Lynton Conservation, a division of Lynton Lasers Ltd. (a spin-out company from the University of Manchester), which has been one of the leading suppliers of laser cleaning systems to the conservation field for over twenty years and counts many of the world’s leading museums among its customers.  The supervisory team will include Dr. Mark Dickinson from the University and Dr. Martin Cooper, one of the leading figures within the laser conservation field.  The successful candidate will be expected to develop excellent working relationships with customers of Lynton Lasers Ltd.  This is likely to include the world-famous British Museum and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, USA), among others.

    Closing date for applications: The application process remains open until a suitably qualified candidate is successfully recruited.

    Applicants should have or expect to receive a 2i or first class degree in Physics. Full funding is available for UK students.  Applications should be made via:

    http://www.manchester.ac.uk/postgraduate/howtoapply/

    Contact Dr. Mark Dickinson: (Mark.Dickinson@manchester.ac.uk) for further information.

  • Thermoregulation in Neo-tropical Tree Frogs. Supervisor: Dr Mark Dickinson

    Supervisor: Dr Mark Dickinson Mark.Dickinson@manchester.ac.uk

    Most frogs avoid prolonged exposure to high light levels and the associated risk of dehydration. Phyllomedusine and some litorine tree frogs, however, show unusual basking behaviour and have a novel NIR reflective pigment (pterorhodin) in their skin. This pigment may help the frogs camouflage themselves from predators by matching the NIR reflectance of the leaves on which they bask. Pterorhodin may also aid in thermoregulation by reducing absorption of solar radiation. In addition, while basking these frogs sometimes undergo a visible change in skin texture which could result in changes to the absorption and hence changes in the skin temperature. This ability to change the temperature of the skin while body temperature remains near ambient may also aid in resistance to infections acquired through the skin such as chitridiomycosis. This project is to investigate the role of pterorhodin and the effects of the change in skin texture using a combined laboratory and field approach, refining the approach in the lab before venturing into the field. In addition novel imaging techniques will be used to quantify the previously observed visual and NIR change in frog skin.

    Photograph taken with NIR illumination. The skin of the frog on the right contains pterorhodin and its reflection closely matches that of the leaf

    The project will have three elements:
    1) compare thermoregulatory and the near-infrared (NIR) reflective properties of two tree frog species containing the NIR reflective pigment pterorhodin with two species that lack this pigment across a natural range of light and temperature;
    2) obtain field collected measurements of NIR reflectance of frogs and their resting substrates. This will allow us to relate laboratory findings to the life history and ecology of the frogs;
    3) compare optical coherence tomographic (OCT) images of frog species with and without NIR reflective pigments, and record structural changes in the skin associated with changes in NIR reflectance.

  • Surface properties of quantum dots for next generation solar cells. Supervisor: Professor Wendy Flavell

    Supervisor: Professor Wendy Flavell Wendy.Flavell@manchester.ac.uk

    There is an urgent requirement to make better use of the 120,000 TW of power provided by the Sun. In
    order to make solar power generation economically viable, the next generation of solar cells must be
    cheaper and less costly in energy terms to produce. The development of wet-chemistry synthetic routes
    for the fabrication of high-quality nanoparticles or ‘quantum dots’ has created an opportunity for the
    exploitation of these quantum dots as the light-harvesting elements in future solar cells. In principle they
    offer a cheap and green solution to providing solar power.

    Example of a prototype solar cell. Incoming sunlight is absorbed by a quantum dot, creating an electron hole pair (or exciton)
    which must then be rapidly separated, the electron travelling to the photoanode via metal oxide nanorods, and the hole being
    transported to the photocathode via a conducting polymer.

    At the heart of the nanocell device is a semiconductor quantum dot that harvests the incident light,
    creating an electron-hole pair, which is separated to produce a photocurrent. A potential obstacle to
    widespread exploitation is the limited chemical and photochemical stability of these quantum dots –
    in particular to oxidation of their surfaces, which affects the properties of the dot, and can impair the
    extraction of charge carriers from it. It is vitally important that we understand how the energy levels
    in the dot match up with the materials surrounding it, how charge is transported from it, and how this
    is affected by its surface properties – and this is the task of this PhD project. This project will use Xray
    photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) to understand the surface properties of the dot (including its
    stability, and the bonding of other cell components to it.) In addition a number of synchrotron and
    laser spectroscopies will be used to understand the electronic structure of the dot, and how charge is
    transferred from it when sunlight is absorbed. Synchrotron work will be carried out European
    synchrotron radiation sources such as SOLEIL near Paris, or Elettra in Trieste, Italy.

  • Ultrafast Measurements of Charge Transport in Nanoparticles for Solar Nanocells. Supervisor: Professor Wendy Flavell

    Supervisor: Professor Wendy Flavell Wendy.Flavell@manchester.ac.uk

    Semiconducting and insulating nanoparticles have a huge range of applications. These include nanoparticulate solar cell and photocatalyst materials, additives to stop polymers from degrading in sunlight, security tags, fuel additives and even sun screens. In all these cases, it is important to understand what happens after the nanoparticle absorbs light (e.g. sunlight) of sufficient energy to excite a carrier across the band gap and create an electron-hole pair in the system. The outcomes can include radiative recombination or, if a voltage is applied, the separation of the electron and hole to create and external current (e.g. in a solar cell). The desired outcome can be thwarted by a whole range of processes – for example trapping at defects at the surface of the nanoparticle or inefficient transfer of charge to the material surrounding it. These processes typically occur quite fast – on timescales varying between fs and ns.

    Synchronised pump-probe experiments which exploit ultra-short pulses to study sample dynamics

    One way in which to study these processes is by ‘pump-probe’ experiments, where a short pulse of light from a laser is used to create the initial electron-hole pair, which is then studied by another pulse of light, synchronised to the first. In a series of experiments, the time delay between the two is adjusted, allowing the time evolution of the system to be studied. In this project we will use a 90 fs high power laser pulse as the probe, and, as the probe, either a pulse of synchrotron radiation (from a European synchrotron radiation source such as SOLEIL, near Paris), or a very low energy ‘terahertz’ pulse generated from the laser system itself (time-resolved THz spectroscopy, or THz time domain spectroscopy).

    Image of the laser pump beam overlapping the synchrotron X-ray probe beam on a sample taken at the TEMPO beamline, SOLEIL, near Paris.

    We will study a number of of semiconductor quantum dots that form part of several ‘next generation’ solar cells under development in the PSI in Manchester.  Here, the aim is to understand how the electron-hole pair created in the dot by the absorption of sunlight may be rapidly separated and the charges transported to the interfaces of the device, and whether 'charge-injection' of the carriers is taking place at the interfaces between one component and another.

  • Mechanism of light-induced degradation in organo-metal halide perovskite solar cells. Supervisor: Professor Wendy Flavell

    Supervisor: Professor Wendy Flavell Wendy.Flavell@manchester.ac.uk

    In the search for cost-effective materials for harvesting solar power, organic-inorganic hybrid perovskites are particularly promising. The efficiency of solar cells made using perovskites has increased from only 3% to more than 20% within the last 5-6 years. However, very poor stability of these solar cells in environmental conditions under continuous long-term illumination remains a critical concern that restricts the practical applications of this technology.

     

    The NAP XPS spectrometer in the PSI at the University of Manchester.

    In this project, we will use two photoemission techniques to understand this problem.  The first is near-ambient-pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (NAPXPS) which allows us to determine the chemical and electronic structure of a material in the first few atomic layers, while simultaneously exposing the surface to realistic pressures of atmosperic gases, and illuminating it.  The PSI at UoM is one of very few labs in the world able to undertake these measurements.  We will match this with results from synchrotron-excited depth-profiling XPS, which allows us to determine the composition layer by layer as we probe from the surface deeper into the bulk.  Synchrotron work will be carried out European synchrotron radiation sources such as SOLEIL near Paris, or Elettra in Trieste, Italy.  The aim is to understand how the chemical and electronic structure of the perovskite surfaces is changed by the atmosphere and by light, so that we can help develop strategies to passivate the surfaces against atmospheric degradation.

  • Ultrafast Terahertz Spectroscopy of GaN Semiconductor Structures. Supervisor: Dr Darren Graham

    Supervisor: Dr Darren Graham Darren.Graham@manchester.ac.uk

    The 2014 Nobel prize in Physics was awarded for the invention of the efficient blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that have enabled the development of bright and energy-saving white light sources. This breakthrough in the blue part of the spectrum has spurred interest around the world in exploiting GaN semiconductor quantum wells, the material at the heart of blue LEDs, in other regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. One region of particular interest is the terahertz region, the region between infrared and microwave radiation, due to its potential exploitation in security screening, medical diagnostics and high-speed wireless data communication. To realise the potential of this region we require compact, efficiency and powerful sources of terahertz radiation and the fundamental properties of GaN semiconductors make this a tantalising possibility.

    In this project the student will use the state-of-the-art laser facilities within the Photon Science Institute to reveal the physics that governs the properties of this remarkable materials system and optimise GaN-based quantum well structures for terahertz sources and detectors. This work will involve using a range of laser spectroscopic techniques including using femtosecond laser systems to perform ultrafast terahertz spectroscopy.

     ‌

    ‌The ultrafast lasers systems in Dr Graham’s lab at the Photon Science Institute will be used to perform sophisticated femtosecond time-resolved spectroscopic measurements.

    This work will be carried out in close collaboration with the Materials Science Department at the University of Cambridge. The opportunity to work in collaboration with international renowned academics will provide training in cutting-edge experimental physics techniques. The skills gained will provide a solid foundation for a future career in industry or academia.

  • 3.5 YR FUNDING SECURED - Terahertz driven linacs: Shrinking the size and cost of particle accelerators. Supervisor: Dr Darren Graham

    Two available PhD projects:

    1. Developing Ultrafast Laser-Driven Terahertz Sources for Particle Acceleration (POSITION STILL OPEN)
    Main supervisor: Dr Darren Graham, Co-supervisors: Dr Rob Appleby, Dr Steven Jamison

    2. Beam loading and depletion in THz driven deflection and acceleration structures
    Main supervisor: Dr Rob Appleby, Co-supervisors: Dr Darren Graham, Dr Steven Jamison

    Two 3.5 year PhD studentships are available under the supervision of Dr Darren Graham, Dr Rob Appleby (School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Manchester and Cockcroft Institute) and Dr Steven Jamison (ASTeC and Cockcroft Institute).

    There is growing interest in the use of lasers to reduce the scale of today’s particle accelerators with the ultimate dream of producing compact laboratory-sized machines for versatile x-ray sources and medical treatment. One of the first steps towards this goal is the demonstration of laser-based schemes for the acceleration of relativistic electron beams. Laser-based ultrafast terahertz radiation sources offer a promising route towards this electron bunch acceleration. Such terahertz sources have already demonstrated electric field strengths in excess of 100 MV/m and benefit from providing inherent synchronization between laser and particle beams. A key challenge in using terahertz radiation for particle acceleration is in obtaining the sub-luminal phase velocities required to match the velocity of the particle beam. This has been demonstrated using a terahertz waveguide with non-relativistic electrons, achieving an acceleration of 7 keV over 3 mm. Such structures suffer however from high dispersion which limits the maximum interaction range. We have recently demonstrated a travelling-source and free space propagation approach to overcoming the sub-luminal propagation limit.

    The objective of these studentships will be to build upon this work and demonstrate the first relativistic acceleration of an electron beam using the 5-50 MeV beams provided by the VELA/CLARA accelerator at STFC Daresbury Laboratory. This will be achieved by developing laser-driven terahertz sources with multi-MV/m field strengths, and exploring the interaction of the THz pulse with the electron beam, the physics of beam loading and depletion in a single THz cycle and the subsequent beam dynamics of the accelerated beam. By combining high field terahertz source development with new THz-electron beam interaction simulations we seek to develop an idealised interaction scheme and breakthrough the 100 MV/m accelerating gradient limit of conventional radio-frequency accelerating cavities.

    The first project, supervised by Dr Darren Graham, will have a more experimental focus, developing laser-driven terahertz sources with multi-MV/m field strengths. This project will involve using a number of high-power ultrafast lasers, including state-of-the-art femtosecond laser systems in Dr Graham’s lab at the Photon Science Institute, a Terawatt laser system at the Cockcroft Institute, and high energy particle accelerators at STFC Daresbury Laboratory. Hands-on experience in the use of lasers and optical components is not essential, but the student is expected to have a keen interest in experimental physics.

    The second project, supervised by Dr Rob Appleby, will build upon the experimental work and provide the necessary theoretical and simulation framework for understanding and mitigating beam loading and THz depletion in acceleration schemes. This will include developing novel PIC code simulations that model the physics of beam depletion for single cycle broadband THz fields.

    How to apply

    1. Developing Ultrafast Laser-Driven Terahertz Sources for Particle Acceleration

    This is a Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only). 

    2. Beam loading and depletion in THz driven deflection and acceleration structures

     

    To apply for these PhD projects please complete an application directly to the University of Manchester.

    Further details can be found here http://www.physics.manchester.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/how-to-apply/

    For further information on either project please contact: darren.graham@manchester.ac.uk, robert.appleby@manchester.ac.uk or steven.jamison@stfc.ac.uk

  • Laser cooling and manipulation of atoms. Supervisor: Professor Andrew Murray

    Supervisor: Professor Andrew Murray Andrew.Murray@manchester.ac.uk

    It is possible to control atomic motion using laser beams of well defined energy, since the selective absorption and emission of photons by the atoms must be accompanied by a change in momentum of both the laser field and atom. Spontaneous emission allows atoms to be cooled to temperatures less than 1mK, whereas evaporative cooling techniques can further cool atoms to temperatures only a few nK above absolute zero. These atoms make up new states of matter, which are studied for their quantum effects.

    One of the two atom cooling and trapping instruments in Manchester, showing the source chamber (right), Zeeman slower (centre) and trapping chamber (left) where collision and ionization experiments are carried out.

    In this project, atom cooling and trapping experiments are undertaken using a high intensity cold atom beam source developed in Manchester, as shown above. Experiments include electron impact collision studies from cold atoms, as well as the study of the fundamental properties of the cold atoms which are produced. A new type of atom trap (the AC-MOT) was recently invented in Manchester1 that uses sound reinforcement amplifiers to drive current through the trapping coils, the polarization of the six molasses laser beams being adjusted in synchronicity with the audio signal. This new type of atom trap can be switched on and off more than 300 times faster than the more conventional DC-MOT, allowing new experiments to be conducted. These include the study of electron impact excitation and ionization, where the unique nature of cold atoms allows new high precision experiments to be conducted. We can either exploit the very low momentum of the targets to accurately define an ionizing collision, or we can use this to ensure we can laser-excite the atoms to highly excited Rydberg states prior to super-elastic scattering of an electron from these targets. These excited atoms can be placed in a highly elliptical state, where the electron orbits around the nucleus in a way similar to planets orbit around the sun. By choosing different atomic states via the laser interaction we can then precisely probe the interface between quantum and classical models of the atom. These projects are carried out in the new laboratories in the Photon Science Institute, using the state of the art laser systems located there.

    [1] M J Harvey and A J Murray, Phys. Rev. Lett. 101, 173201(2008).

  • Ionization & Excitation of Atoms Prepared by Laser Radiation. Supervisor: Professor Andrew Murray

    Supervisor: Professor Andrew Murray Andrew.Murray@manchester.ac.uk

    In these projects atomic or molecular targets are prepared in a laser-excited state prior to electron impact. The incident electron of well-controlled momentum either ionizes the target, excites the target to a higher level or may super-elastically scatter from the target (ie the electron gains energy as the target relaxes back to the ground state). In each process the target state is controlled by the laser beam, which allows the ‘shape’ of the atom to be modified prior to the collision.

    In our ionization experiments (shown in figure (a) below) an incident electron scatters from and ionizes the target, leading to two electrons emerging from the interaction. These electrons are detected and time-correlated with sub-ns accuracy. It then becomes possible to determine the reaction from individual atoms, and to measure the ionization probability as a function of the scattering angle for comparison to quantum collision theories developed by colleagues throughout the world. New experiments are being carried out where the target atom is excited and aligned by a CW laser, the atom then being ionized by the electrons. This type of interaction has not been studied before our work in Manchester1,2, and we closely collaborate with colleagues in the USA, UK, Canada and Australia who model these complex interactions using sophisticated new quantum theories.

    In the excitation experiments (figure (b)) we adopt time reversal methods to reveal highly precise information about the scattering process. In these experiments a laser defines the ‘shape’ of the electron charge cloud prior to electron impact, and we measure the rate of super-elastically scattered electrons as a function of the scattering angle and target structure. In this way experiments can be conducted thousands of times faster than is possible using conventional ‘coincidence’ methods. New experiments are being cinducted which adopt a resonant enhancement optical cavity around the interaction region so that the intensity of the incident laser radiation can be increased by up to a factor of 2003. In this way we study atoms of technological and scientific interest, which are important due to their electronic structure4. Results from these experiments are then compared to quantum calculations produced by theoretical groups throughout the world.

     

     

    Two of the electron spectrometers for ionization and excitation studies of laser-prepared targets developed in Manchester. In (a), two detectors (A1,2) are used to detect electrons arising from the interaction (an e,2e) process). In (b), a Magnetic Angle Changing (MAC) device controls the direction of incident and super-elastically scattered electrons from laser prepared targets, excited in a resonance enhancement cavity (Mirrors 1 & 2).

    [1] K L Nixon and A J Murray, Phys. Rev. Lett. 106 123201 (2011)
    [2] K L Nixon and A J Murray, Phys. Rev. Lett. 112 023202 (2014); A Sadek et al, Phys. Rev. A 90 062707 (2014)
    [3] M J Hussey, S Jhumka and A J Murray, Phys. Rev. A 86 042705 (2012)
    [4] S Jhumka, K L Nixon, M Hussey and A J Murray, Phys. Rev. A 87 052714 (2013)

  • Modelling open quantum systems beyond weak-coupling regimes. Supervisor: Dr Ahsan Nazir

    Supervisor: Dr Ahsan Nazir ahsan.nazir@manchester.ac.uk

    The thermodynamics and nonequilibrium dynamics of quantum systems in contact with environmental degrees of freedom is a topic of primary importance in physics and chemistry, and is becoming increasingly relevant in biology as well. In a wide range of quantum systems the interactions with the environment are non-trivial, and cannot be treated by the standard weak-coupling approximations often used in the existing literature.
    This project will develop new theoretical techniques to study such systems, and apply these approaches to quantum systems whose behaviour is not fully understood. In a departure from conventional open systems methods, the student will explore the role of highly non-classical environmental states in faithfully representing system-environment (and intra-environment) correlations in the strong-coupling regime. Particular applications include quantum dot and superconducting qubits for quantum computation, as well as the recently discovered coherent motion of excitons in natural and artificial molecular nanosystems.
    The successful applicant will join a new and dynamic theoretical team within the Photon Physics group working on a variety of topics related to the physics of open quantum systems. For further details and publications please see http://personalpages.manchester.ac.uk/staff/ahsan.nazir

  • Nanowire-enabled optoelectronic devices. Supervisor: Dr Patrick Parkinson

    Supervisor : Dr Patrick Parkinson patrick.parkinson@manchester.ac.uk

    Semiconductors play a key role throughout the field of optoelectronics, providing the active material for photodetectors, light-emitting diodes, and diode lasers. Whilst materials such as silicon are commonly used, a push towards higher speed, lower cost and more tightly integrated devices have led researchers to consider novel material systems with more tunable material properties. Of particular interest are semiconductor nanowires based on III-V materials such as GaAs, InP or InAs.

    Nanowires inherently feature nanoscale dimensions, bottom-up fabrication routes and tuneable material parameters through surface or heterostructure engineering, and have been identified as key components for future nanotechnology-enabled optoelectronic devices. However, nanowire-based optoelectronics are a new field, and significant challenges remain for both material characterisation and optoelectronic-relevant testing.

    This project builds on recent research at the University of Oxford and a collaboration with the nanowire growth group at the Australian National University and University College London, and has three main goals:

    1)  To design and establish a protocol for contacting and creating nanowire based devices.

    2)  To investigate key material parameters using an integrated range of ultrafast optical techniques, including photocurrent microscopy, photoluminescence microscopy, terahertz photoconductivity, and non-linear optical approaches.

    3)  To implement the best performing nanowire devices based upon the material parameters determined earlier in the project.

    Key applications are in nanolasers, highly efficient photovoltaics and ultrasmall LEDs.

    This project will involve clean-room work, ultrafast laser spectroscopy and may also include computational studies for interpreting nanowire dynamics. It will be carried out in collaboration with both the University of Oxford and the Australian National University.‌

  • Multimodal energy dynamics study of nano- and meso-structured photovoltaic materials. Supervisor : Dr Patrick Parkinson

    Supervisor : Dr Patrick Parkinson. patrick.parkinson@manchester.ac.uk

    There is a rapidly growing requirement for clean, scalable and cheap energy sources to meet global demand. It is now clear that a number of device and material approaches are required to address a variety of large and small scale applications, each with unique requirements; for instance cost, weight, longevity, appearance or ultimate efficiency.

    Third-generation photovoltaics promise high efficiency, low cost and easily produced solar cells based upon low-temperature or roll-to-roll preparation methods. Key examples include dye-sensitised solar-cells, nanowire-based photovoltaics and the rapidly emerging field of perovskite-based devices. These materials meet are promising due to their use of novel materials or nano/meso-structuring to control the light absorption, charge generation and charge collection processes.

    A key aspect of nano or meso-structured devices is the inhomogeneity inherent to such structuring, with critical energy processes occurring at spatially separated positions in three dimensions. Investigation can be hindered by the material in a full device performing differently from the active material alone; we therefore require a non-contact, in-situ probe of photon absorption, charge generation and charge migration processes that is sensitive on the shortest length scales and fastest time scales.

    This project will address this challenge by use of recently developed and proof-of-concept techniques in time-resolved microscopy and nanoscopy, utilising visible and terahertz radiation to probe the ultrafast energy dynamics in next generation solar cells. This project will focus on establishing cutting edge optoelectronic techniques for investigating energy materials, with the goal of building a framework for understanding all energy processes in this new class of photovoltaic materials.

    Next-generation photovoltaic materials will be developed with collaborators at the Australian National University (nanowire photovoltaics) and the University of Oxford (perovskite photovoltaics).

  • Spintronics with Semiconductors. Supervisor: Professor Elaine Seddon

    Supervisor: Professor Elaine Seddon; contact Professor Wendy Flavell, Wendy.Flavell@manchester.ac.uk

    Spintronics is a rapidly developing field in which the charge and the spin of electrons are utilised in electronic devices.  Whilst magnetic materials and multilayers (which have aligned electron spins) have found extensive use in data storage and retrieval, a major research thrust now is the broad integration of magnetic and semiconductor technologies in devices. Our aim is to improve device function by a detailed understanding of the electronic structure of the individual materials and the interfaces between them. This work complements our work on novel polarised electron sources for use as photocathodes in accelerator environments.

    The main spectroscopic techniques that are utilised are spin resolved photoemission and spin resolved Auger Electron Spectroscopy.  The former, for which we utilise either synchrotron radiation or a DC discharge as light sources, is the most direct probe of spin resolved electronic structure.  For Auger Electron Spectroscopy we utilise an energetic electron beam. This latter technique has the advantage that - with spin resolution - it is an element specific magnetic probe. The work will be undertaken using the spin polarised spectroscopy apparatus, one chamber of which is shown below, currently based at the Cockcroft Institute adjacent to Daresbury Laboratory. Instrumental developments currently involve spin polarimeter enhancements.

    The principal aim of this project is to understand and develop the properties of novel materials that will act as polarised electron sources for spin injection into semiconductors in spintronics devices.

  • NOWNANO DTC studentships. Supervised by various supervisors

    Applications are invited for up to 20 PhD places. Offering up to ten fully-funded four-year PhD scholarships for UK or European Union nationals that have been resident in the UK for at least 3 years. Non-UK students are welcome to apply, however, they would need to provide proof of funding. Email: nownanodtc@manchester.ac.uk

    NOWNANO builds on the world-leading expertise in all nanoscience within Manchester and Lancaster universities to offer a broad interdisciplinary doctoral training centre. PhD students will receive initial training that will show them the breadth and potential of nanoscience, before they focus on mastering one specific area of the subject. This area could range from studying the most exciting materials in nanoscience, such as graphene, to applying nanotechnology in drug delivery or making new biomaterials. Throughout the research training the cohort will meet and discuss their research, building a group of outstanding scientists that will help to lead world research in nanoscience in the future.

    The NOWNANO DTC PhD takes four years because the challenges presented by nanoscience are inherently interdisciplinary, and to make a contribution in this area requires training that crosses discipline boundaries. Postgraduate students in the DTC will be provided with a great awareness of developments outside the narrower remit of their research project and be able to discuss and reflect on a range of science that falls within the heading of nanoscience and its exploitation. This takes time, which is why we have a four year programme. The funding is there to ensure you can write up and complete the PhD in this period; there will be no expectations that students spend time writing up after the four years. We also have funding to cover the relatively high running and travel costs of our DTC studentship, including support for presenting your results at international conferences.

    We welcome applications from graduates with a good degree (first or upper second) in science, engineering or medical disciplines. Nanoscience may make significant contributions to clinical practice, so we welcome medics just as much as physicists!

    www.nownano.manchester.ac.uk

  • Researcher Development

    "It is important for postdoctoral researchers to be able to develop individual career paths, reflecting different career destinations – Industrial, Academic and Research Associate – open to them." Sir Gareth Roberts


    The University is committed to providing first class development and career support to its researchers underpinned by adoption of the Principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers in full. This ambition is made explicit in the University’s recently published Research Strategy and in the University’s Concordat Implementation Plan.
    The Faculty Engineering & Physical Sciences aims to create an environment in which researchers can excel and reach their full potential by offering them a full range of personal, professional and career development opportunities through the Researcher Development Programme.

    Researcher Development is about your professional development as an independent researcher

    • See full schedule of faculty workshops.
    • New to Post? - Check out the Research Staff Handbook - A resource to get you started at Manchester, includes key contacts, useful induction checklist, university policies, support information and details about the Researcher Development Agenda.


    For further information see the Researcher Development Webpages

    ▲ Up to the top