Photo of Prof Robert J Hicken

Prof Robert J Hicken

Professor of Condensed Matter Physics

Email:

Telephone: 01392 724153 or (Lab) 01392 724152

Extension: (Streatham) 4153 or (Streatham - Lab) 4152

My research interests lie in Magnetic Materials and Photonics, with particular emphasis on high frequency processes. My research group uses a combination of microwave and time resolved optical and x-ray measurement techniques to study structural, electrical and magnetic changes in condensed matter systems. Our research is directly relevant to different forms of data storage technology, including hard disk drives, Magnetic Random Access Memory (MRAM) and phase change recording. Dynamic magnetic processes also underlie the operation of spintronic and magnonic devices that show great potential for use in logic and telecommunications applications.

Education and Employment

  • 1983 - 1986 BA Hons Physics, Oxford University
  • 1986 - 1991 PhD Physics, Johns Hopkins University
  • 1991 - 1995 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Physics, Cambridge University
  • 1996 - 1999 Lecturer in Physics, University of Exeter
  • 1999 - 2004 EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Physics, University of Exeter
  • 2004 - 2006 Senior Lecturer in Physics, University of Exeter
  • 2006 -         Professor of Condensed Matter Physics, University of Exeter

Funded Research Projects

  • "Accelerated delivery of prototype ferrite-loaded electronic article surveillance (EAS) tags for retail trials" EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account 2 £13,016 (1/4/2019 - 31/7/2019)
  • "Manufacture of ferrite-loaded electronic article surveillance (EAS) tags for retail trials" EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account 2 £29,200 (1/1/2018-31/03/2020)
  • "EXTREMAG: an Exeter-based Time Resolved Magnetism Facility" EPSRC EP/R008809/1 £1,128,435 (1/1/2018 - 30/04/2020)
  • "Picosecond Dynamics of Magnetic Exchange Springs" EPSRC EP/P02047X/1 £642,415 (1/6/2017 - 19/3/2021)
  • "Combined Magneto-Optical and Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy: Towards Cellular Level Magnetic Hyperthermia" PI N. D. Telling, University of Keele, EPSRC EP/P011403/1 £365,765 to Exeter (1/3/2017-30/06/2020)
  • "Optical detection of magnetisation dynamics induced by spin-orbit torques" EPSRC EP/P008550/1 £522,335 (1/3/2017-31/12/2020)
  • "An enhanced sputtering system for fabrication of multilayered magnetic thin films", College of Engineering Mathematics and Physical Science Small Research Equipment Round 2016 £21,231 (14/2/2016-31/7/2016)
  • "High Frequency Magnetic Resonators for Electronic Article Surveillance in the Retail Sector", EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account £31, 856 (1/9/2016-28/02/2017)
  • "Magnetization dynamics of writer structures studied at the wafer level", Seagate Technology, 1/7/2013-30/6/2016, US$20,000
  • "Materials World Network: Spin dynamics of the ferromagnet/antiferromagnet interface studied by time-resolved x-ray magnetic dichroism", EPSRC EP/J018767/1, 1/10/12-30/9/15, £358,448
  • "A Plasmonic Antenna for Magneto-Optical Imaging at the Deep Nanoscale", EPSRC EP/I038470/1, 1/9/12-28/2/16, £637,496
  • "Near-field tagging of metallic objects within the retail sector", Exeter University & Crown Technology, 1/11/11-31/8/12, £63,261
  • "Time Resolved Magnetic Measurements and X-Ray Magnetism", Seagate Technology, 1/7/10-30/06/13, US$60,000
  • "A Planar Microwave Cavity Loaded with Ferromagnetic Material: a new 8.2 MHz Anti-Theft Tag for Metallic Packaging within the Retail Sector", EPSRC EP/I500219/1 (plus £10k cash contribution from Crown Technology), 9/9/10-8/10/11, £110,154
  • "Security Tagging of Metal Containers at Crown Technology", Crown Technology, 20/7/09 - 25/9/09, £3,450
  • "Security Tagging of Metal Containers at Crown Technology", Crown Technology, 01/09/2008, £1,300
  • "Spin-wave and domain wall dynamics in vertical magnetic nanowires", UKIERI SA07-021,1/4/08-31/3/11, £101099
  • "Microwave Amplification by Spin Transfer Emission Radiation (MASTER)", EU FP7 NMP3-SL-2009-212257, 1/3/08-31/8/11, £215,154
  • "Optical Investigation of non-thermal processes in phase change materials", EPSRC EP/F015046/1, 17/12/07-16/12/10, £318,445
  • "Picosecond magnetization dynamics of nanomagnets: time resolved XMCD and XPEEM", EPSRC EP/F021755/1, 1/10/08-30/9/12, £120,139
  • "Experimental studies of the spin momentum transfer effect and high frequency precessional switching in hard magnetic layers", Seagate Technology, 1/6/07 – 31/5/10, £25,642
  • "Spin@RT: Room Temperature Spintronics", EPSRC EP/D000572/1, 1/7/06-30/9/09, £420,429
  • "Picosecond Magnetization Dynamics of Mesoscopic Magnetic Tunnel Valves", EPSRC EP/C52022X/1, 1/5/05 – 30/4/08, £273,263
  • "New Materials and Features for Spin Engineering", New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) of Japan, 1/10/04 - 30/9/07, £81,391
  • "Optical Orientation and Relaxation of Spin in Metals", EPSRC GR/R98990/01, 2/03 – 1/05, £133,537
  • "Imaging High Frequency Magnetisation Dynamics at the Wafer Level", EPSRC GR/R73850, 2/02-1/04, £124,276
  • "Harnessing Hot Electrons in Vertical Transport Structures", Seagate Technology, 10/01-9/04, £27,000
  • "Picosecond Spin Dynamics in Nanoscale Magnetic Materials", EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship, EPSRC AF/991005, 10/99-9/04, £229,361
  • "Pump-Probe Studies of Spin Dynamics in Thin Films", EPSRC GR/M23724, 1/99-12/02, £171,534
  • "Tunnelling experiments in magnetic spin-valve structures", Exeter University Research Fund, Jan-98, £1,650
  • "Time resolved pump-probe studies of spin dynamics in thin films", EPSRC GR/L67752, Aug-97, £39,000
  • "Variable temperature magnetometry and magnetoresistance measurements", Exeter University Research Fund, May-97, £4,325
  • "Thin Film Kerr Magnetometry", Royal Society RSRG18277, Apr-97, £9,944
  • "Incorporation of insulators into magnetic films by means of radio frequency sputtering", Exeter University Research Fund, Jun-96, £6,000

Consultancy

  • In the past I have carried out consultancy work has been carried out for Crown Technology and Unilever

Facilities Usage

Facilities time for which I was the Principal Investigator:

  • "Propagation of ac spin currents within ferromagnet/antiferromagnet/ferromagnet trilayer structures", Advanced Light Source, Berkeley, beamline 4.0.2, ALS-09198, 21-23/3/2019, 6 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Determination of torque due to AC spin current injection from an antiferromagnet", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I10 SI20760, 31/1/2019-5/2/2019 15 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Propagation of ac spin currents within ferromagnet/antiferromagnet/ferromagnet trilayer structures", Advanced Light Source, Berkeley, beamline 4.0.2, ALS-09198, 27-29/9/2018, 6 shifts of 8 hours
  • “Detection of low frequency evanescent spin waves in antiferromagnetic NiO”, STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I10 SI19116, 25-31/7/2018, 18 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Propagation of ac spin currents within ferromagnet/antiferromagnet/ferromagnet trilayer structures", Advanced Light Source, Berkeley, beamline 4.0.2, ALS-09198, 20-24/5/2018, 9 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Propagation of ac spin current within an antiferromagnet", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I10 SI17745, 25-30/1/2018, 15 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Propagation of ac spin currents within ferromagnet/antiferromagnet/ferromagnet trilayer structures", Advanced Light Source, Berkeley, beamline 4.0.2, ALS-09198, 12-16/6/2017, 12 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Imaging the magnetisation dynamics of industrial hard disk writer structures", Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin, proposal 17104846-ST, beamline 1.1-P: UE49_PGM SPEEM, 6-11/6/2017, 6 days
  • "Spin dynamics of an antiferromagnet driven by interfacial coupling to a ferromagnet",  STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I10 SI14074, 11-17/5/2016, 18 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Spin dynamics of an antiferromagnet: a new medium for the propagation and control of spin current", Advanced Light Source, Berkeley, beamline 4.0.2, ALS07116, 11-16/6/2016, 12 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Imaging the magnetisation dynamics of industrial hard disk writer structures", Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin, proposal 16103227-ST, beamline 1.1-P: UE49_PGM SPEEM, 30/5/2016-5/6/2016, 6 days
  • "Exploring the role of ferrimagnetic sub-lattice dynamics on spin pumping at the YIG/Cu interface", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I10 SI13063, 20-26/1/2016, 18 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Understanding site specific magnetodynamics in YIG for optimisation of spin pumping", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I10 SI11588-2, 5-9/8/2015, 12 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Time-resolved x-ray magnetic dichroism study of the ferromagnet/antiferromagnet interface", "XFMR study of the transverse spin relaxation length within a ferromagnetic film", Advanced Light Source, Berkeley, beamline 4.0.2, ALS-05720/06433, 9-14/9/2015, 15 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Understanding site specific magnetodynamics in YIG for optimisation of spin pumping", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I10 SI11588-1, 15-21/7/2015, 18 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Spin dynamics of an antiferromagnet: a new medium for the propagation and control of spin current", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I10 SI11585-1, 13-19/5/2015, 18 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Spin dynamics of frozen Co spins in epitaxial Ni81Fe19/Fe/CoO/Ag/MgO(001) thin films", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I06 SI10532, 5-9/3/2015, 12 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Time-resolved x-ray magnetic dichroism study of the ferromagnet/antiferromagnet interface", "XFMR study of the transverse spin relaxation length within a ferromagnetic film", Advanced Light Source, Berkeley, beamline 4.0.2, ALS-05720/06433, 11-14/12/2014, 12 shifts of 8 hours
  • "XFMR study of spin pumping and spin transfer torque in YIG-based trilayers", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I06 SI9813, 2-6/5/2014, 12 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Time-resolved x-ray magnetic dichroism study of the ferromagnet/antiferromagnet interface", "XFMR study of the transverse spin relaxation length within a ferromagnetic film", Advanced Light Source, Berkeley, beamline 4.0.2, ALS-05720/06433, 2-7/4/2014, 15 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Interfacial spin dynamics of epitaxial CoO/Fe(001) thin films", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I06 SI9330, TBA, 15 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Time resolved imaging of magnetic flux propagation in hard disk writer structures", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I06 SI9287, TBA, 18 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Time-resolved x-ray magnetic dichroism study of the ferromagnet/antiferromagnet interface", Advanced Light Source, Berkeley, beamline 4.0.2, ALS-05720, 3-7/10/2013, 12 shifts of 8 hours
  • "XFMR study of spin diffusion and spin transfer torque within magnetic trilayer films", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I06 SI8782, 11/8/2013-16/8/2013, 15 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Should we Avoid or Exploit Edges within Magnonic Crystals?", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I06 SI7804, 17/9/12-25/9/12, 21 shifts of 8 hours
  • "XFMR study of spin dynamics in an epitaxial NiO/Fe(001) exchange biased bilayer", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I06 SI7803, 1/8/12-7/8/12, 12 shifts of 8 hours
  • "XFMR measurements of spin transfer torque: no need for nano-pillars", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I06 SI7357, 17/12/11-21/12/11, 12 shifts of 8 hours
  • "X-ray ferromagnetic resonance study of precessional modes of a spin-valve", Advanced Light Source, Berkeley, beamline 4.0.2, ALS-03584, 7/11/11-12/11/11, 15 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Phase resolved X-ray Ferromagnetic Resonance in the non-linear regime", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I06 SI6565, 22/4/11-26/4/11, 12 shifts of 8 hours
  • "X-ray ferromagnetic resonance study of precessional modes of a spin-valve", Advanced Light Source, Berkeley, beamline 4.0.2, ALS-03584, 23/3/11-1/4/11, 18 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Enhanced Damping in Exchange Biased Ferromagnetic Films: the Role of the Antiferromagnet", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I06 SI6253, 1/12/10-7/12/10, 18 shifts of 8 hours
  • "X-ray ferromagnetic resonance study of precessional modes of a spin-valve", Advanced Light Source, Berkeley, beamline 4.0.2, ALS-03584, 29/9/10-3/10/10, 15 shifts of 8 hours
  • "X-ray ferromagnetic resonance study of precessional modes of a spin-valve", Advanced Light Source, Berkeley, beamline 4.0.2, ALS-03584 ,31/3/10-5/4/10, 18 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Revealing the Origins of Magnetic Damping with Phase-resolved X-ray Ferromagnetic Resonance (XFMR)", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I06 SI4695, 26/5/10 – 1/6/10,1 8 shifts of 8 hours
  • "X-Ray Ferromagnetic Resonance (XFMR) study of precessional modes of a spin-valve", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I06 SI1842, 2-8/12/09, 18 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Time resolved imaging of vortex dynamics in planar magnetic elements", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I06 SI1070, 8/7/09-14/7/09, 18 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Phase resolved measurement of X-ray Ferromagnetic Resonance (XFMR)", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I06 SI1068, 27/05/09-28/05/09 and 15/07/09-17/07/09, 18 shifts of 8 hours
  • "Time resolved imaging of magnetic nano-elements", STFC Diamond Light Source beamline I06 SI576, 8/7/08-11/07/08 and 24/7/08-27/7/08, 18 shifts of 8 hours
  • "The effect of interface bonding on interfacial magnetism and its role in spin-polarised tunnelling", CCLRC Daresbury Laboratory station 1.1 ref 45288, 8/3/06-13/3/06, 5 days
  • "Two-Colour Pump-Probe Measurements of Charge and Spin Dynamics in a Gold Thin Film", CCLRC Lasers for Science Facility US16P23, 12/10/03-18/10/03, 1 week

Invited Presentations

Invited presentations since Jan 2014 given by myself and students and postdocs under my supervision:

  • “Time resolved imaging of magnetization dynamics induced by spin-orbit torques” (Invited), T. M. Spicer,  P. S. Keatley,  M. Dvornik,  T. H. J. Loughran,  A. A. Awad,  P. Dürrenfeld, A. Houshang,  M. Ranjbar,  J. Åkerman,  V. V. Kruglyak,  and R. J. Hicken, International Symposium on Integrated Functionalities 2019, 11-14 Aug 2019, Dublin
  • “X-ray detected Ferromagnetic Resonance studies of spin current propagation through antiferromagnetic NiO”, R. J. Hicken, York-Tohoku-Kaiserslautern Research Symposium,“New-Concept Spintronics Devices” 12-14/06/2019
  • “Picosecond reorientation of in-plane magnetisation within a nano-element by spin orbit torque”, P.S. Keatley, R.J. Hicken, G. Mihajlović, L. Wan, Y.S. Choi, and J. A. Katine, Spin Mechanics VI, Zao, Japan, 26-28/02/2019
  • “Time-resolved Kerr imaging of nano-contact spin-torque vortex oscillators” (Invited), P.S. Keatley, S. Redjai Sani, G. Hrkac, S. Mohseni, P. Dürrenfeld, T. Loughran, J. Åkerman, and R. J. Hicken, FC-10 Magnetism and Magnetic Materials (MMM) 2017, Pittsburgh USA.
  • “Optical Detection of Magnetization Dynamics Induced by Spin-Orbit Torques”, T. M. Spicer, C. J. Durrant, P. S. Keatley, V. V. Kruglyak, R. J. Hicken, Qiang Hao, Gang Xiao, P. Dürrenfeld, A. Houshang, M. Ranjbar, A. A. Awad, R. K. Dumas, M. Dvornik, and J. Åkerman, Magnonics 2017, 7-10 August, Magdalen College, Oxford.
  • “Identifying the Mechanisms of Current Induced Magnetization Dynamics”, C. J. Durrant, T. M. Spicer, P. S. Keatley, Qiang Hao, P. Dürrenfeld, A. Houshang,  M. Ranjbar, A. A. Awad, R. K. Dumas, J. Åkerman, Gang Xiao, V. V. Kruglyak, and R. J. Hicken, Baltic Spin 2016, Jurmala, Latvia, 9 – 13 August 2016.
  • “Time-resolved scanning Kerr microscopy of magnetization dynamics at the nanoscale.” P.S. Keatley, P. Gangmei, M. Dvornik, R.J. Hicken, J. Grollier and C. Ulysse (invited), DA-01 Magnetism and Magnetic Materials 2014, Honolulu 3-7/11/2014.
  • “Optical and X-ray Measurement of Magnetization Dynamics Induced by Spin Currents (Invited)”, R. J. Hicken and P. S. Keatley, IEEE International Conference on Microwave Magnetics 2014, Sendai, Japan, 29/6-2/7/2014.

Contributions to the Community

Since Jan 2014

  • Chair of of the Institute of Physics (IoP) Magnetism Group  2015 - 2019.
  • External examiner for the award of PhD degrees at Unviersity of Leeds, University of Durham, University of Calcutta, Queen Mary University of London, University of Glasgow, Imperial College London, IIT Delhi, and Queens University Belfast.
  • External examiner for undergraduate programme, Department of Physics, University of Bath, 2013-17.
  • External examiner for the taught components at the Centre for Doctoral Training in Photonic Integration and Advanced Data Storage, Queens University Belfast, 2014 - present.
  • Member of the EPSRC peer review college.
  • Reviewer for funding bodies including EPSRC, Leverhulme Trust, British Council, European Research Council, Science Foundation Ireland, Agence Nationale de la Recherche of France, Netherlands Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM), Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Government of Canada, National Science Foundation USA.
  • Program committee member for IoP Magnetism conference from 2014 - 2017
  • Chair of “Optical Polarization Conversion in the Near Field”, international workshop, Exeter, June 2015.
  • Conference Chair,  6th IEEE International Conference on Microwave Magnetics ICMM2018,  24-27 June 2018, Exeter.
  • Chair of “Emerging Applications of Spin Transfer Torque EASTT2018”, international workshop, 28-29 June 2018, Exeter
  • Program chair for 4th Ultrafast Magnetism Conference, York, 14-17 Oct 2019.

Outreach

Recent outreach activity includes

  • Magnetism and magnetism materials demonstrations at the Dorchester Family Science Festival 15/3/2020, and the Festival of Physics at the University of Plymouth 23/11/2019
  • Interactive learning for Year 9 school students as part of the Physics Student Community series at the Exeter Maths School 7/2/2020
  • General interest talk "Big Data Challenges in Physics" for the Cornwall Data Science series held at Falmouth University
  • Demonstrations and information about spin-orbit torques and exchange springs in the interaction zone at World Music and Dance (WOMAD) Festival nr Malmesbury 28/07/2019

Memberships

I am a member of the Institute of Physics, American Physical Society, and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Prizes