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PhD Studentship: Ferromagnetic Semiconductor Heterostructures of Two-dimensional (2D), Van Der Waals Layers for Spintronic Applications

University of Bath - Physics

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bath
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, Self-funded Students
Funding amount: £14,777 per annum, UKRI annual stipend (2018/19 rate) + tuition fees + training support grant
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 27th November 2018
Closes: 27th January 2019

Integrating semiconductors with magnetic layers is a very active field as it is at the basis of next-generation information processing and storage technologies, which will be spin- and valley- (two further degrees of freedom beyond the familiar electronic charge) based.

Vertical heterostructures, where layers of various materials alternate, are a familiar design in magnetic and spin-related applications, and atomic control over the layers’ thickness is required for good control of the resulting effects. For this reason, van der Waals, graphene-like layers of two-dimensional (2D) materials, atom-thin by their nature, are ideal for creating new spin-based structures, such as spin-valves, which are generic building-blocks for a plethora of spin-based devices.

In this project we propose to create and investigate heterostructures between two such van der Waals, atom thin, inorganic 2D crystals: a layer of transition metal halide, a ferromagnet, topped by a material with giant spin-orbit splitting. The latter is not spin-polarised in isolation (due to valley degeneracy), but in a heterostructure with a ferromagnetic layer, due to a proximity effect, it becomes spin polarized. The angle of rotation between the two layers is expected to exert a further degree of control on their coupling.

Here we will use scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) at cryogenic temperatures to reveal the relationship between the electronic structure and the angular rotation of the layers; while its spin-polarised (SP-STM) version will mimic an atomic-scale spin valve which can reveal the spin-injection between the van der Waals layers. Finally, we will create a real spin-valve device, where another ferromagnetic 2D layer will replace the spin-polarised tip; and test this sandwich structure in an externally-applied magnetic field.

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 also employ state-of-the-art scanning probe microscopy which will access information at the atomic scale, and a range of device nanofabrication techniques. The project will be supervised by Dr. Adelina ILIE (Lead supervisor) and Prof. Alain Nogaret from the Physics Department.  Dr. Ilie has extensive experience with atomic-scale investigations of low dimensional materials (including graphene and transition metal dichalcogenides) using scanning probe microscopy, while Prof. Nogaret has a background in nanomagnetic and spin-related devices. The successful student will participate in the strong international collaborations on related themes of the two supervisors.


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


Informal enquiries 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:

For more information, see:

Anticipated start date: 30 September 2019.


UK and EU students who have been resident in the UK since September 2016 will be considered for an EPSRC DTP studentship covering UK/EU tuition fees, a stipend (£14,777 p/a, 2018/19 rate) and a training support fee of £1,000 p/a for 3.5 years.

Overseas applicants are NOT eligible for funding; however, we welcome applications from self-funded candidates and candidates who can source their own funding.

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