EPSRC CDT in Metamaterials: Sensing the dynamics of a metamaterial and its constituent parts with a near-field optical antenna

University of Exeter - Departments of Physics and Astronomy, and Department of Engineering

The studentship is part of the EPSRC Centre of Doctoral Training in Metamaterials (XM2), www.exeter.ac.uk/metamaterials. Our aim is to undertake world-leading research, while training scientists and engineers with the relevant research skills and knowledge, and professional attributes for industry and academia.

Joint supervisors:  Prof R. J. Hicken, Prof E. Hendry

To fully understand the dynamic behaviour of an electromagnetic metamaterial it is necessary to observe the response of its individual constituent parts. With today’s lithographic fabrication techniques routinely producing sub-micron feature sizes, a non-invasive dynamic probe with deep sub-nanoscale resolution is required.  We have constructed a near-field time-resolved optical microscope in which an optical antenna is mounted on a transparent atomic force microscope tip so that light from a femtosecond laser may be confined within a near-field spot on the sample surface.  This internationally unique instrument is an ideal platform on which to test near field antennas designed to interact with specific types of metamaterial.  For example, an antenna capable of receiving and transmitting orthogonal linear polarisation states is required to sense the response of magnetic and chiral materials.  The antennas will fabricated by focused ion beam milling of gold-coated atomic force microscope tips made from a transparent quartz-like material.  Therefore you will gain experience of advanced nano-fabrication techniques as well as the use of ultrafast lasers and polarizing optics.  The sensing of magnetic materials is of immediate interest to our collaborators in the magnetic data storage industry with our collaborative research on magnetic metamaterials [1,2] benefiting from enhanced spatial resolution. As a member of the CDT you will receive a broad training, which will help you to identify opportunities for near field sensing in different areas of nanotechnology, and develop transferable skills suited to a wide range of future careers.

4-year studentship: for UK/EU students, the studentship includes tuition fees and an annual stipend equivalent to current Research Council rates; for international students (non-EU) a very small number of fees only studentships may be available

[1] “Observation of vortex dynamics in arrays of nanomagnets”, W. Yu, P. S. Keatley, P. Gangmei, M. K. Marcham, T. H. J. Loughran, R. J. Hicken, S. A. Cavill, G. van der Laan, J. R. Childress and J. A. Katine, Phys. Rev. B 91, 174425 (2015).

[2] “Imaging the equilibrium state and magnetization dynamics of partially-built hard disk write heads”, R. A. J. Valkass, W. Yu, L. R. Shelford, P. S. Keatley, T. H. J. Loughran, R. J. Hicken, S. A. Cavill, G. van der Laan, S. S. Dhesi,  M. A. Bashir, M. A. Gubbins, P. J. Czoschke, and R. Lopusnik, Appl. Phys. Lett. 106, 232404 (2015).

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