Science ambassador in Chile

Erick Burgos Parra, one of our final year PGRs, was invited speaker at the “Escuela de nanoestructuras 2018” taking place from 7th to 10th of January in Viña del Mar, Chile.

The “School of Nanostructures” event aims at linking students and post-graduates with international nanotechnology experts since 2008.

Erick was invited to give a 30 minutes talk titled “Time–resolved imaging of magnetic vortex dynamics using HERALDO”.

The talk was well received and he enjoyed the scientific discussions with some of the attending students afterwards.

New Publication: The true potential of the Weyl particle – A publication in Science

The quest to understand a variety of intriguing phenomena that may advance progress towards the next generation of computing has taken a quantum leap.  Through the science of metamaterials, quantum physics and the mathematics of topology, a team of scientists , including researchers from University of Exeter, have been exploring the properties of so called ‘ideal’ Weyl systems.  They have constructed an artificial analogue to a conventional material that has been carefully tuned to support ‘massless’ particles at microwave frequencies.

The particles exist in materials that have a singularity in their electromagnetic properties, similar to a 3-dimensional graphene, called the Weyl point. In recent years, scientists have tried to create an ideal system, where these Weyl points can exist at the same energy. The ideal nature of the new design, supporting massless particles, makes them candidates for practical applications in electronics, optoelectronics and, perhaps, quantum computing.

Lauren Barr, a postgraduate researcher from Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences  and co-author of the research explained: “The key feature that makes our Weyl metamaterial different to others is the broad frequency range around which we can examine its topological nature – this is what makes it ‘ideal’.

“That means we can more easily explore new ways of controlling waves in a Weyl semi-metal, potentially leading to breakthrough advances in technology for faster and lower-power consumer-electronic devices.”

Professor Alastair Hibbins, Director of Exeter’s EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Metamaterials said: “We extremely pleased to have been involved in such a fantastic collaboration. Exeter provided the state-of-the art experimental kit to undertake the microwave work, but thanks to Prof Shuang Zhang and his team at the University of Birmingham for leading the project so well.  Its been great to see our young researchers engaging in such high-quality science and I’m sure that they will reap the rewards of this result for many years to come!”

Ideal Weyl points and helicoid surface states in artificial photonic crystal structures is published in Science, and is highlighted as a prestigious ‘First Release’ article:

A  Close up of the metallic saddle-shaped wire the metacrystal is made of.
Photograph of the top of the metacrystal showing how the individual “saddles” are arranged and made using circuit board technology.
C  Four Weyl points are illustrated as singularities at the intersections of the red cones in a plot of the metacrystal’s electromagnetic response; these occur at the same energy, omega, indicated by the pale blue sheet. Reproduced with permission from Science.

>> See all XM2 publications on <<

EU grant success for Prof David Wright

In spite of Brexit, Prof David Wright, Co-Director of the CDT in Metamaterials, has been successful in securing EU H2020 funding for the project “Fun-COMP” that will develop new neuromorphic (brain-like) electronic and photonic devices for the realisation of future intelligent computing systems. David will lead this €4 million project and work with partners from IBM, Thales, IMEC, CNRS and the universities of Oxford and Muenster. The project runs for 4 years and will complement our PGR Emanuele Gemo‘s work who is currently working in the area.  Exeter’s share of the funding amounts to €618k.

For more details see

Congratulations to David and his team!

The first XM2 careers event for EMPS PGRs/ECRs: a full success

XM2 organised its first careers event for PGRs and ECRs in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the University of Exeter: on 25 & 26 January 2018 twelve companies presented themselves as potential employers to our PGRs and ECRs. We received 88 registrations,  35% of which were from non-XM2 PGRs and 15% from Early Career Researchers.

Initial feedback from both sides, presenters and attendees, is quite positive:

  • The PGRs/ECRs enjoyed the talks and networking sessions as an opportunity to learn about possible careers pathways and the research at DSTL, Dyson, Flann Microwave, Hitachi Cambridge LaboratoryHuawei, MBDA, Met Office, Nature Publishing Group, NPLSynopsysThales, and QinetiQ. Each company had the oportunity to introduce their business, career pathways and employee requirements in a 20 minute presentation which was perceived as particularly beneficial.
  • The industry repesentatives were intrigued by the breadth of research they learned about when speaking to our young researchers, and appreciated the opportunity to network with colleagues from other companies.

We would like to thank our partners and guests for their contributions to the event’s success and look forward to hosting the next careers event in early 2019.

Our PGRs will host an IONS conference in 2019 – Congratulations!

Our postgraduate researchers won the competition to host an international OSA (Optical Society) network of students (IONS) conference at Exeter in 2019.

The IONS is a program that encourages OSA student chapter members to organize and manage regional meetings focused on technical and professional development content as well as networking with peers and luminaries. An IONS conference is usually three to four days of technical presentations from students and esteemed professors, student chapter related activities and social/cultural events.

Congratulations to Alba, Ben, Chris, Erick, Henry, Kishan, Lauren, and Tom C who wrote the succesful proposal and won a grant of U$8000.

The conference will take place in July 2019.

Want to learn more? Get in touch with our PGRs via the Exeter University Optics and Photonics Society (EUOPS). EUOPS is a group of PhD students who are members of the SPIE and OSA chapters at Exeter.

KTN event: Industrial and Commercial Applications of Metamaterials & MRE2018

On 16 Jan 2018 the third KTN event for Metamaterials took place in London, focussing on Industrial and Commercial Applications of Metamaterials. Pavel Petrov, one of our first years, presented a poster for the first time, and our CDT Director, Alastair Hibbins, was invited to introduce the CDT to the about 150 industry and academic representatives with his talk “Creating new leaders for academia and industry: Exeter’s collaborative approach to doctoral training in functional and meta-materials”.

The talk was well received and provided an excellent opportunity to showcase the breadth of the CDT. We used the KTN event to catch up with existing partners and build links with new companies, e.g. Metaboards and Metasonics, who are currently recruiting – we will try to invite them for talks in our Beyond A PhD series later this year.

The next big event in Materials Science will be the Materials Research Exchange & Investor Showcase 2018 (MRE2018) on 12 and 13 March 2018 in London, with over 1000 expected exhibitors. Staff and PGRs are ecouraged to register now – the delegate rate will be £0 until 8 February 2018 (early bird rate).



Latest publications

Please see below some of our PGRs’ latest publications – all publications will be updated on our website later this month.

T.C. Collier, V.A. Saroka, M.E. Portnoi Turning Terahertz transitions in a double-gated quantum ring Physical Review B
S. Cheng, N.H. Mahlmeister, I.J. Luxmoore, G.R. Nash Metamaterial-based graphene thermal emitter Nano Research
N. T. Taylor, F. H. Davies, S. P. Hepplestone First principles electronic and elastic properties of fresnoite Ba2TiSi2O8 Materials Research Express

Training and other events in February 2018

Date Training/Event Cohort Time Venue
01/02/2018 Leadership & Team Building Workshop (2nd day) 3rd Years 09.00 – 16.30 Ibrahim Ahmed Room, Reed Hall
02/02/2018 Beyond a PhD ‘Predicting the Future: Life as a solver’ – Dr Chris Maynard All 12.30 – 13.30 Newland Red
02/02/2018 Cognitive Behavioural Coaching All (optional) 09.00 – 12.30; 13.30 – 16.30 Phy208 (am); Har332 (pm)
07/02/2018 CDT Group Meeting Group 2 13.30 – 14.30 HAR209
09/02/2018 Physics Colloquium: ‘Physicist in the kitchen’ – Andrey Varlamov All 12.30 – 13.30 Newman Red
13/02/2018 CDT Oversight Board meeting all – details TBA all day – details TBA Reed Hall
14/02/2018 CDT Group Meeting Group 3 13.30 – 14.30 Phy124
16/02/2018 Metamaterials Colloquium: ‘Terahertz spectroscopy to probe electrons, phonons and spins’ – Mischa Bonn All 12.30 – 13.30 Newman Red
21/02/2018 CDT Group Meeting Group 4 13.30 – 14.30 HAR107 (Note change of venue)
23/02/2018 Physics Colloquium: ‘The nonlinear route to nonclassical light’ – Peter Moseley All 12.30 – 13.30 Newman Red
28/02/2018 CDT Group Meeting Group 1 13.30 – 14.30 HAR107 (Note change of venue)

See the January events here.

Riddle time!

In need of a break? Try this for a bit of a change:

  • I am a three digit number. My second digit is four times more than my third digit. My first digit is seven less than my second digit. What Am I?

The solution will be published in the next newsletter.

Too easy? Got another one? Please email your riddle suggestions to

Changes to the CDT Management

2018 starts with some changes to the CDT in Metamaterials management:

Alastair Hibbins is taking on the role as Director from Roy Sambles as of 1 Jan 2018.

Roy Sambles has successfully led the CDT in Metamaterials since its beginnings in 2014. It has grown to a significant size with almost 100 researchers, consisting of about 30 supervisors and 65 post graduate research students  (PGR) in 2017/18. After decades of intensive research, management and leadership roles, most recently in the CDT, and as President of the Institute of Physics, Roy has handed over more of the CDT leadership responsibility to Alastair during the past year with the aim to formalise the handover from 1 January 2018 as approved by the institution and EPSRC. Roy will continue to support the CDT as a member of the Management Board and as a supervisor with his expertise and a strong network of academic and industry partners.

Alastair is now building on a strong foundation to evolve the CDT programme and Exeter’s reputation as an institution that provides postgraduate researchers with the skills and understanding to become tomorrow’s leaders in industry, as well as in academia. He is passionate about providing an outstanding experience for talented, early-career researchers to prepare them for a variety of career pathways, as today’s PhD graduates are more likely than ever to find careers outside of academia, and the job roles for academics is evolving rapidly as well.

Alastair, the CDT management and the supervisors are working together to provide our graduates with the ability to design, harness and exploit the potential of functional and meta-materials, maintaining and furthering the UK’s position in this rapidly-developing field.

Isaac Luxmoore is formally included as Co-Director as of 1 Jan 2018.

Isaac is a Lecturer in Engineering (Nano-photonics) at the University of Exeter.  He has supported the CDT investigator team since November 2016 whilst Bill Barnes was on study leave in 2016/17, pushing forward major aspects of the training programme development and implementation and providing valuable additional representation of the Engineering department in CDT management discussions. Bill returned from his study leave in September 2017 to take on CDT specific teaching duties in science and soft skill training, and Isaac will drive the development and further implementation of the overall training programme, including industry visits and invited talks from academic and industry representatives to enhance understanding of careers pathways and provide a broad range of insight into employment requirements. The institution and EPSRC approved the request to include Isaac as Co-Investigator on the CDT grant EP/L015331/1.

Ian Hooper is leaving his role as Technical Director as of 3 Jan 2018

Ian has provided exceptional support to the CDT management and the PGRs in his role as Technical Director over the past years. He has recently secured a new position on the Prosperity Partnership project Tailored Electromagnetic and Acoustic Materials  (TEAM-A) which will allow him to focus his time, energy and intellectual resource fully to research. We are very sad to see Ian go, but understand his drive to fully commit to science. As the TEAM-A and CDT research topics complement each other we look forward to work together with Ian on more exciting and challenging research projects in the future.