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Being a PhD researcher provides you with the exciting prospect of constantly encountering new challenges to solve. Within my research I work on designing and creating magneto-elastic membranes using a generous variety of specialist equipment and facilities.

Being a part of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Metamaterials provides you with a wide range of training opportunities to further your development in skills and academic topics outside of your everyday research.

Elizabeth Martin, 2nd year

Science training

The topics below are an indicative list of subject areas you can expect to cover based on current teaching. Please note that this is subject to change from year to year.

To ensure that you continue to develop your general scientific knowledge, we require you to attend a lecture course of your choice from within the College of Engineering, Maths and Physical Sciences in both your first and second years.

Please see the list of Optional Modules, with links to the module descriptions. You will not be required to undergo the examination for the lecture course, but evidence of notes and problems should be contained within your training portfolio.

This course is led by John Smith of DSTL and provides a background to the theory and applications of acoustics both airborne and underwater. It covers the fundamentals of acoustic resonators, detailed descriptions of the interaction of acoustic waves with matter, and recent developments in the field of acoustic metamaterials.

This two-day training course will provide you with an overview of material characterisation and device fabrication techniques. You will learn to appreciate the applications and limitations of different characterisation techniques, so that you can apply them to your research.

This short course takes place during the first few weeks of the first term and will introduce you to topics including:

  • Probability
  • Bayes theorem
  • Discrete distributions
  • Probability density function
  • Summary statistics
  • Mean value theorem
  • Hypothesis Tests
  • The null hypothesis
  • T-test, F-Test
  • Parameter estimation
  • Common estimators: least-squares, minimum chi-squared, maximum likelihood, maximum entropy
  • Curve fitting
  • Covariance and bias of parameter estimates
  • Non-parametric methods and simulation.

This course will provide you with a general background in magnetic materials, beginning from the magnetic Maxwell equations and susceptibility, through anisotropy and exchange, domains and hysteresis, magnetostriction, and static measurement techniques.

A number of advanced topics that may be relevant to specific PGR projects will also be discussed in the second half of the course. These include:

  • nanoscale magnetism
  • magnetism on ultrafast timescales
  • magnonics
  • magnetization dynamics activated by spin transfer torque
  • micromagnetic modelling
  • applications within data storage technology.

Led by Prof Bill Barnes, this two day workshop will take you on a journey through over a hundred years of scientific literature on plasmonics. Each lecture will focus on one or more seminal articles, and after an introduction to the topic, the paper will be openly discussed. Emphasis will be placed on how numerous strands of science from many varied topic areas have led to the current state-of-the-art, the applications and challenges faced by the field.

Being able to programme or use specific computational software is an essential skill for all scientists and engineers. To ensure you develop these skills you will undertake at least twenty hours of training in this area.

An indicative list of workshops might include the following:

  • COMSOL
  • Mathematica: An Introduction
  • Mathematica: Programming in the Wolfram Language
  • Mathematica: The wolfram language -visualisation fundamentals
  • Matlab Fundamentals
  • Matlab for data Processing and Visualisation
  • Matlab Programming techniques
  • Labview Core 1
  • Labview Core 2
  • R programming
  • Programming for everybody (Python)

After completion of the workshops you will undertake a project using the skills that you have learnt. This project will relate to one of the workshops you have attended, and could involve writing a Labview project to control an experiment, developing a complex Comsol model, or developing a piece of code to solve a problem using one of the programming languages. The project aim will be decided in conjunction with your supervisor, should be directly related to your research, and would be expected to require approximately 20 hrs to complete.

This training element is to be completed in year 1 of your studies.

This two-day course aims to provide the audience with a short introduction to the ongoing ‘hide-and-seek’ battle between sensors and stealth technologies. Through talks and equipment demonstrations, presented by experts from DSTL and QinetiQ, a grounding in the basic principles of both camouflage and detection will be provided, with case studies of real-world problems being used to provide an insight into the industrial scientist’s mindset.

By the end of the course you should understand the basic tools and techniques available to both sides of the battle, and understand why technological breakthroughs such as new metamaterials will be required to meet new and evolving challenges. As well as the technical perspective, you will be introduced to the synergistic relationships between academia, industry and government, in the context of building and delivering pathways to impact.

Run by Dr Simon Horsley, this lecture course provides an introduction to the theoretical methods used to solve wave propagation problems.

In Simon’s words, “The subject of metamaterials is largely about doing stuff to waves. And all waves have a lot in common, be they ocean, acoustic, or electromagnetic. This course aims to teach some mathematical methods for solving the wave equation. The aim is that you can start to solve the theoretical problems in your research without being reliant on expensive ready-made commercial packages.”

A unique scientific writing workshop run by Mark Buchannan and Justin Mullins whose joint experience includes writing and editing for Nature, New Scientist and the New York Times. Through lectures, exercises and one-to-one feedback, the course focuses on the fundamentals of good communication and how to use them to produce scientific papers of the highest quality.

Research and knowledge exchange

To provide a platform for experience exchange our PGRs will meet with their peers on a monthly basis. These cross-cohort group meetings are a forum to share insights on your research and PhD related activities (e.g. public engagement activities, industry and research visits, conferences, CDT external training). The CDT group meetings are facilitated and managed by postgraduate researchers to share knowledge and support each other in their professional development.

CDT postgraduate researchers are expected to attend the CDT colloquium series, and the Physics or NEST colloquium, or Physics Theory seminar or equivalent, where national and international experts will present the latest developments in the wider science community.

Recent guest speakers in our colloquia have included:

  • Prof Tim Palmer, Oxford, UK
  • Prof Frantisek Stepanek, University of Chemistry & technology, Prague, Czech Republic
  • Prof Rachel Grange, ETH Zürich, Switzerland
  • Prof Maurice Skolnick, University of Sheffield, UK
  • Prof Sir John Pendry, Imperial College London, UK
  • Prof Jong Min Kim, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge
  • Prof Nicholas Joly, Max Plank Institute Erlangen, Germany
  • Prof Richard Craster, Imperial College London, UK