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PhD Studentship: Dimensionality Tuning and Quantum Engineering in New 2D Materials

University of Birmingham - School of Physics and Astronomy

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: Please see details below
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 15th November 2023
Closes: 15th February 2024

Experimental low-temperature physics involving high pressure, extreme magnetic field and milliKelvin temperature tuning of exotic low dimensional materials with hands-on experiments & development and opportunities for travel to international facilities.

2D materials are the future. Graphene was just the beginning, and the possibilities before us now are endless. Our group aims to identify new unstudied new 2D materials, synthesise them and understand the full range of their properties. This means subjecting crystals of interesting new compounds to ultra-high pressures and magnetic fields, all at temperatures orders of magnitude below those of interstellar space and studying their magnetic, structural and electrical properties.

As a student, unusually for the field, you will experience all parts of this wide endeavour: synthesis of single crystals and of nanoscale devices, basic characterisation using commercial measurement apparatus, more advanced characterisation using pressure cells, and visits to large-scale facilities for measurements such as neutron and X-ray diffraction that cannot be done in the laboratory. This range of experience will give you flexibility and independence in a future research career, whether within the academic system or outside. You will gain experience in laboratory skills, hands-on design and manufacture of components, advanced data analysis and programming skills. You will work as part of a cohesive friendly team and as a part of the wider condensed matter group here at Birmingham, with a close-knit research and social structure, and exposure to other groups and ideas.

The VₓP(S,Se)₃ materials, many of which have yet to be studied, form the focus of this research project. These ‘magnetic graphene’ materials bring magnetism and strong quantum mechanical effects to the domain of 2D materials and comprise exciting new building blocks for exotic new quantum engineering. These are unique and exotic among an already fascinating materials family, with great potential for applications in new forms of nanoelectronics and low-power computing devices. These compounds form (controllable) V deficiencies with a mixture of V2+ and V3+ valence states. A key question is how the vacancies are arranged on the honeycomb lattice; this mixing of states gives yet more potential and tunability.

The project will be to:

  • Study the effects of compositional changes on these materials’ electrical, structural and magnetic properties
  • Apply ultra-high pressure using opposed diamonds to push their 2D crystal lattices towards 3D, exploring the exotic metal states that form and searching for new phases such as unconventional superconductivity
  • Prototype the assembly of nano-sized electrical devices in a cleanroom fabrication environment based on VPS₃ and seek to demonstrate the first VPS₃ transistors

Please email Dr Matt Coak at m.j.coak@bham.ac.uk to arrange a discussion.

The School of Physics and Astronomy is an Institute of Physics Juno Champion since 2014 and holder of the Athena SWAN Silver Award. We welcome applications from all qualified applicants, and encourage applications from traditionally under-represented groups in physics and astronomy including, but not limited to, women and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic.

Funding Details

A limited number of ESPRC-funded positions are available from UoB. Strong ‘Home’ candidates will be put forward and can expect a high chance of being funded. International funding is less typically awarded, but certainly worth pursuing for exceptional candidates. Independently-funded candidates are also welcome, and would not need to undergo this additional selection process. Please write to the address above for any clarification or if unsure.

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