School of Physics & Astronomy

Find a PhD Project Here

Opportunities for fully funded PhD or EngDoc research projects are available in all fields of research within the School. You may search for current projects on this page. APPLY HERE for a PhD Place.

 PhD in Photonics
 PhD in Condensed Matter
 PhD in Astrophysics

Search current PhD opportunities in the School of Physics & Astronomy:-




Condensed Matter

Controlling emergent quantum phases through strain-tuning of electronic structure
Hicks , Dr Clifford - cwh10@st-andrews.ac.uk
King, Prof Phil - pdk6@st-andrews.ac.uk
Mackenzie, Prof Andy - apm9@st-andrews.ac.uk

The strong interactions at the heart of correlated electron materials yield striking collective states such as superconductivity or magnetism, and often mediate giant responses to small external perturbations. This offers unique opportunities to tune these subtle quantum many-body systems, to shed new light on their underlying physics and ultimately to engineer desired functional properties. In this project, you will exploit externally-applied and continuously-tunable mechanical strain in an attempt to harness control over emergent phases in correlated solids, for example tuning unconventional superconductivity in Sr2RuO4 and controlling quantum criticality in Sr3Ru2O7. You will perform low-temperature transport measurements as a function of uni- and bi-axial strain using custom apparatus within the world-leading facilities of the Max-Planck Institute for the Chemical Physics of Solids in Dresden, Germany. You will also design similar apparatus that can be integrated within our state-of-the-art system for angle-resolved photoemission (ARPES) in St Andrews, as well as in ARPES systems at synchrotron light sources. This will allow you to track the corresponding electronic structure changes that control the materials’ transport and thermodynamic properties with unprecedented detail. This project is offered as part of a Max Planck – CM-DTC initiative (http://cm-dtc.supa.ac.uk/research/max%20planck.php). You will spend part of your time performing research in MPI Dresden (with Dr. Hicks & Prof. Mackenzie), part in St Andrews (with Prof. King), and will also undertake experiments at national and international facilities. Thus, a willingness to travel is an essential prerequisite.
Artificial quantum materials
King, Prof Phil - pdk6@st-andrews.ac.uk
Wahl, Prof Peter - gpw2@st-andrews.ac.uk

The epitaxial compatibility of many oxides which, in bulk form, host an extraordinarily wide array of physical properties opens almost limitless possibilities for creating new artificial materials structured at the atomic scale [1]. Recent advances in atomically-precise deposition techniques have opened new potential to manipulate the properties of these ubiquitous but still poorly-understood materials [2], creating new "designer" compounds with tailored properties not found in bulk. You will exploit a brand new £1.8M growth facility to build up transition-metal oxide materials one atomic layer at a time, exploiting tuning parameters such as epitaxial strain and the layering of disparate compounds to selectively tune their functional properties. To provide direct feedback on how this influences the underlying quantum states in these complex materials, you will employ advanced spectroscopic probes such as angle-resolved photoemission [3] or scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy [4], utilizing our state-of-the-art capabilities in St Andrews. Together, this promises new insight into the rational design of quantum materials and their potential for future quantum technologies.

[1] J. Mannhart and D. Schlom, Science 327, 1607 (2010).
[2] P.D.C. King et al., Nature Nano. 9, 443 (2014).
[3] V. Sunko et al., Nature 549, 492 (2017).
[4] M. Enayat et al., Science 345, 653 (2014).
Quantum Electronic States in Delafossite Oxides
King, Prof Phil - pdk6@st-andrews.ac.uk

As part of a generously-funded ERC research project, we are seeking ambitious and motivated PhD students to join a major research initiative aimed at investigating Quantum Electronic States in Delafossite Oxides (QUESTDO). One of the most active challenges of modern solid state physics and chemistry is harnessing the unique and varied physical properties of transition-metal oxides. While little-studied to date, initial work suggests that the delafossite oxide metals are a particularly rich member of this materials class. They exhibit a wide array of fascinating properties, from ultra-high conductivity [1,2] to unconventional magnetism [3], with the potential to host strongly spin-orbit coupled states at their surfaces and interfaces [4]. You will seek to understand, and control, the delicate interplay of frustrated triangular and honeycomb lattice geometries, interacting electrons, and effects of strong spin-orbit interactions in stabilising these. Projects are available: (i) utilizing laboratory-, laser-, and synchrotron-based angle-resolved photoemission to probe their intriguing bulk and surface electronic structures and many-body interactions; (ii) developing the epitaxial growth of delafossites by reactive-oxide molecular-beam epitaxy, using a state-of-the-art system recently installed in St Andrews; or (iii) working jointly between us and our research partners at the Max-Planck Institute for the Chemical Physics of Solids, Dresden, pursuing either single-crystal growth of new delafossites, or density-functional theory calculations of their electronic structures, combined with experimental studies in our group. For further information, or to discuss research possibilities, please contact philip.king@st-andrews.ac.uk. As part of this project, you will undertake experiments at national and international facilities. Thus, a willingness to travel is an essential prerequisite.

[1] Kushwaha et al., Science Advances 1 (2015) 1500692
[2] Moll et al., Science 351 (2016) 1061
[3] Ok et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 111 (2013) 176405
[4] Sunko et al., Nature 549 (2017) 492
2D Quantum Materials
King, Prof Phil - pdk6@st-andrews.ac.uk

As part of a generously-funded research project from the Leverhulme Trust, we are seeking ambitious and motivated PhD students to join a major research initiative aimed at investigating the electronic structure and collective states of two-dimensional quantum materials. The remarkable properties of graphene, a single atom-thick layer of carbon, has spurred enormous interest in 2D materials. In this project, you will seek to develop 2D material systems which incorporate the effects of pronounced electronic interactions, focusing on transition-metal dichalcogenide (TMD) compounds. Bulk TMDs are known to support a wide variety of striking physical properties such as superconductivity and charge density-wave states, but how these are modified when the material is restricted to just a single layer in thickness are only starting to be explored. Combining strongly-interacting 2D materials in different configurations and environments promises a huge array of exciting possibilities to stabilise rich phase diagrams and unique properties. The work undertaken will build on the group’s existing activity in the study of bulk and monolayer TMDs [e.g. 1-5], and ultimately aims to develop new routes towards the “on-demand” control of the quantum many-body system underpinning the physical properties of 2D quantum materials. Projects are available developing the growth of single monolayers and heterostructures of TMD compounds using a recently-installed state-of-the art molecular-beam epitaxy system in St Andrews and utilizing a linked system for angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, as well as further ARPES and spin-resolved ARPES work at international synchrotrons, to probe the resulting electronic structure and many-body interactions of the materials synthesized. There are also possibilities to spend extended research visits with our collaborators in Tokyo and in Italy. As part of this project, you will undertake experiments at national and international facilities. Thus, a willingness to travel is an essential prerequisite. For further information, or to discuss specific research possibilities, please contact philip.king@st-andrews.ac.uk.

[1] Riley et al., Nature Physics 10 (2014) 835
[2] Riley et al., Nature Nano. 10 (2015) 1043
[3] Bawden et al., Nature Commun. 7 (2015) 11711
[4] Bahramy, Clark et al., Nature Materials, 17 (2018) 21
[5] Feng et al., Nano Lett. 18 (2018) 4493