Sathya Seetharaman – viva successfully completed. Next up: a career in industry.

Time to celebrate: Sathya surrounded by his colleagues (CDT in Metamaterials PGRs and supervisors).

Very many congratulations to Sathya Sai Seetharaman who successfully defended his PhD thesis “Electromagnetic interactions in one-dimensional metamaterials” on 24 July 2018.  Sathya was supervised by Prof Bill Barnes and Dr Ian Hooper and will soon be starting a position as Metamaterials Scientist at Metaboards Ltd in Oxford. Congratulations to Sathya, and all involved in his success!

Well done. We look forward to welcoming Sathya back as an alumni to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers at Exeter.

Sathya bids his farewell with a summary of his experience in the CDT:

The part I enjoyed most while working in the CDT was that everyone always had questions and someone else was always able to provide a solution. I realised that this was the success of functioning as a cohort, combining researchers with different expertise together.

No matter how difficult I estimated a situation to be, be it in a placement or even tackling the job interview for my dream job, I always found myself thinking on my feet, coming up with answers and solutions. I owe the CDT for training me, bettering my thinking process and preparing me for an industrial job.

The creativity events, job interview training, writing skills training and the CBC sessions in particular helped identify my training needs and improve on them. If I have any advice to offer to my CDT juniors, it would be this – the secret to getting the most out of CDT organised training events is to experience them with an open mind and to use the opportunity to identify training areas where you need improvement.”

*** Read more about Sathya’s thesis abstract and information on highlights of his time in the CDT:  ***


Lighting up RAMM – XM2 PGRs in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum

On Saturday 21st July 2018 the CDT in Metamaterials PGRs set out to inspire the public in Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM). They joined forces with research colleagues from the University’s physics and engineering departments and an Irish artist to showcase interactive experiments, demonstrations and craft activities.

Thanks to all of them for sharing their time and passion, to RAMM for hosting the researchers, and very special thanks to XM² PGR Lauren Barr who coordinated the event.

Throughout the day around 150 visitors stopped by to try the experiments and learn a little about the physics behind the wonderful artefacts in the museum. One mother commented,

It’s been eye-opening & fun! We will continue to explore colour & light throughout the school holidays. Thanks for inspiring us

and many have requested more and different activities for next year. The PGRs are members of the Exeter Optics and Photonics Society

The stands offered a wide range of opportunities for visitors young and old:

  • Testing an oscilloscope and microphone, along with a few other noisy experiments. This piece of equipment allows us to see the sound waves we make when we talk, sing or bang on the drums. (Simon Baber, Erick Burgos)
  • Experiments to test the conductivity and magnetism of different materials, including lab samples made of graphene – just a single layer of carbon atoms, and extremely interesting as it is conductive, flexible and transparent. (William Ferguson & Jake Mehew)
  • Various iridescent butterflies, beetles and birds and put them next to a microscope used to see the fine structure of the wings and scales. The bright colours of these animals are really created by the structures, and without these they would be a dull brown. Because of this, they also have some unusual features when we look at them from different angles and through different filters. (Henry Fernandez, Erick Burgos)

 “I’ve been hundreds of times in this museum and I never knew why some animals show different colours depending on which position you’re looking at them.

  • Cleverly camouflaged animals (a good example of how wildlife uses colour to hide) and some cleverly hidden jelly spheres (a good example of how scientists work hard to hide things too!) (Ioannis Leontis)
  • A more science-based approach to colour mixing with red, green and blue LEDs which enabled the visitors to add the light from these LEDs to make all the colours of the rainbow, the same way our TVs and phone screens do. (Kishan Menghrajani)
  • Showing off some fluorescent materials and bugs that glow when UV light shines on them. Useful if you have to find a scorpion on the dark! (Kieran Walsh)
  • Arrays of optical illusions to show how our eyes can play tricks when we look at different colours and how famous artists from the past made use of these tricks when they painted some of their most famous work, like Georges Seurat and Claude Monet. (Tommy Barr)
  • Micrscopy of the fine structure of butterfly wings, minerals and paints (Prince Khatri)
  • How to make spectrometers out of cardboard and a CD. These little boxes separate light into different colours, making every sky full of rainbows, and giving  a glimpse at what’s inside different lightbulbs. (Dr Adolfo de Sanctis, Erick Burgos)

The event received financial support from the EPSRC CDT in Metamaterials, OSA and SPIE.

XM2 thesis submitted by Ilya Starshynov: Quantum and classical correlations of multiply scattered light

It is time to say good-bye to Ilya Starshynov, who just submitted his PhD thesis on “Quantum and classical correlations of multiply scattered light“, supervised by Dr Jacopo Bertolotti and Dr Janet Anders, and who is about to start a 1.5 year postdoc position with Prof. Daniele Faccio and the Extreme Light group at the University of Glasgow.

Ilya is currently still working on another publication to add to his collection of journal articles and conference proceedings [for example Quantum correlation of light scattered by disordered media (Optics Express);    Non-Gaussian Correlations between Reflected and Transmitted Intensity Patterns Emerging from Opaque Disordered Media (Phys. Rev. X); Non-classical correlations of multiply scattered light (OSA Technical Digest)], and will still need to pass his viva in the next weeks, so we hope to see him again fairly soon for a catchup.

As an active member of the research community, Ilya presented his work at various national and international conferences and workshops over the past years, such as the SPIE Photonics 2016 (Brussels); Quantum Information and Measurement (QIM) – IV: Quantum Technologies (Paris, 2017); GW4 South West Quantum Technologies Workshops (2017, Cardiff); and the SPIE Photonics Europe 2018 (Strasbourg).

One of his most memorable moments occured at the last SPIE conference in Strasbourg, when he listened to a talk of Prof. Alain Aspect, who was noted for his experimental work on quantum entanglement and elected as Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 2015. Alain pointed out that quantum technologies became so widespread in recent years, that a taxi cab driver asked him if it is worth investing money in that area. An amazing insight in the impact science can have way beyond the academic community.

Our 4th years Ilya Starshynov and Alba Paniagua-Diaz on their leaving do in July 2018.

Ilya leaves us with a fond resume of his time in the CDT and hopes for the future we can only support:

The CDT helped me to fulfil my dream of becoming a scientist.  It gave me an opportunity to develop every aspect of a skill set required to become a successful academic and, most importantly, a network of contacts with the top researches within my subject area and beyond.  

Thanks to the training we have had as a part of the CDT I was able to actively participate in discussions on topics that, only a couple of years ago, I didn’t even know they exist.

It was an amazing experience and although it is formally finished, I believe it is a beginning of a new bigger story of collaboration and partnership.

Well done Ilya!

We look forward to seeing you again and hope that the research paths will cross with Exeter soon enough.


Abstract of PhD thesis Quantum and classical correlations of multiply scattered light

Multiple scattering is a very common phenomenon since it occurs any time a wave meets a disordered medium. As almost any natural object has random structure in one form or another, the variety of the processes involving multiple scattering spans from electronic transport in solids to propagation of sound in a forest. In principle, multiple scattering is completely deterministic, and in the absence of absorption also reversible, which means that the information encoded into the incident wave can be perfectly recovered. However, in practice, due to its extreme complexity we often consider this process to be random, which leads to the information loss. Within this approach correlations can be an important instrument of information recovery, because they directly quantify the amount of knowledge we get about the wave in a particular point from the measurement performed in a different point.

In the first part of this thesis we study a novel type of mesoscopic correlations between the light intensities at the opposite sides of an opaque scattering slab. We study its dependence on the scattering medium properties and the incoming light beam parameters. In the last chapter of the first part we show how this correlation can be used to retrieve non-invasively the information about the shape of an object placed behind the scattering medium.

In the second part we switch to the quantum aspects of the light propagation inside the scattering materials. We show that certain class of quantum correlations, quantum discord, can be present in the multimode output state of the scattered light even when the input is classical (thermal). We propose a non-classicality measure based on the strength of this correlation, applying it to characterize the advantage due to the quantum measurement in discrimination of two coherent states in their mixture.

Our Oversight Board summer meeting – piloting stronger OB/PGR interactions

The EPSRC CDT in Metamaterials hosted it’s annual summer Oversight Board (OB) meeting on 18 July 2018 in Exeter’s Northcott Theatre. The Management and Oversight Boards came together to discuss latest developments for the current and future CDT, however, this year’s meeting saw a twist to the usual agenda and put the main focus on interactions between Oversight Board members and PGRs beyond the traditional poster session.

“It was an opportunity to engage more informally with the OB, and bridge the gap a little; understanding some of the motivation behind their work with the CDT. Secondly, it was useful to compare and learn skills/techniques for interviewing/networking with someone with very significant experience.”    [Jacob Roth, 2nd year PGR]

Following feedback from both, the OB and our PGRs, to identify new ways of using the OB members’ time to the benefit of the PGRs, we introduced indvidual 1-to-1s / 2-to-1s sessions for PGRs and OB members, where PGRs could spend 30 minutes with Oversight Board members of their choice to ‘practise’ conversations with more senior academics and industry representatives.

Lunch conversations at the EPSRC CDT in Metamaterials Oversight Board meeting on 18 July 2018.

The lunch arrangement for PGRs, OB, and MB members, alternately placed around tables in groups of 10, provided a relaxed and interactive atmosphere to get to know eachother further: “What’s in the bag?” is as easy as effective – a selection of questions (in this case mainly standard interview questions) to be drawn from a bag is all you need to provoke some quite revealing, amusing, or thoughtful answers.  “Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time? What is the biggest challenge you have faced in the last month? What’s your biggest achievement?…” There was much to learn about all participants experiences, dreams, and ambitions.

We would like to use this opportunity to thank our OB members, who still show so much engagement and interest in the CDT. It is a pleasure to work with them and we are extremly grateful for their continued support.

“I found it really useful that the OB and MB members gave us advice based on their side of the recruitment process and I learnt that things that might not look obvious for the applicant can really make all the difference. They told us that we shouldn’t stop applying for a job just because we don’t fulfill all the requirements, and we should always give prove of why we are the right candidate (make our cover letter short and personal). I also find these kind of activities a good way to improve my confidence when talking to somebody who is more senior. It is great to be reminded that they all started where I am now and that they  struggled with the same issues that we need to deal with now.”  [anonymous PGR]

“I learnt that talking to academics who you don’t know isn’t as scary or daunting as I thought.” [Elizabeth Martin, 2nd year PGR]

We proudly present our first XM2 graduates: Alba Paniagua Diaz & Tanveer A Tabish

Time to celebrate! Our very first CDT in Metamaterials graduates, Alba Paniagua Diaz and Tanveer A Tabish, received their graduation certificate. Congratulations to both of them! We are incredibly proud and hope to send them off with the right skill- and mindset to succeed in their futrue careers, and that they will leave us with very fond memories of their time as Postgraduate Researchers in Exeter.

>> Read more about Alba’s thesis abstract and information on highlights of her time in the CDT:

>> Read more about Tanveer’s thesis abstract and information on highlights of his time in the CDT:

Our graduates Alba and Tanveer among some of the CDT in Metamaterials PGRs who started between 2015 and 2017.






BIMS @ Exeter: The rise of Bio-Inspired Magnetic Systems

  Exeter hosted the Bio-inspired Magnetic Systems (BIMS) workshop from 9 – 11 July 2018, an event set to exchanging the knowledge of experts in the field of magnetic microscale systems, from theory to experiment and applications:
We are particularly proud that three of the EPSRC CDT in Metamaterials PGRs (3rd year Joshua Hamilton, 2nd year Elizabeth Martin, and 1st year Peter Inzani) organised this workshop alongside Prof Feodor Ogrin.
The event focused on the magnetically actuated and controlled microscopic systems enabling a range of actions at Low Reynolds number. From micro-robots and self-propelled swimmers to microfluidic and lab-on-a-chip technology, it covered a range of topics which are of great interest in both fundamental and applied Physics. The workshop aims at bringing together world-leading experts in the field (e.g. invited speakers Dr Cecile Cottin Bizonne, Universite Claude Bernard Lyon, France; Prof Peer Fischer, MPI Stuttgart, Germany)with postgraduate and early careers researchers to maximise the exchange of knowledge and to provide a new platform for the development of new collaborations in this exciting scientific field.   
Congratulations to the team for organising the successful event!
Left to right: Part of the BIMS organiser team – EPSRC CDT in Metamaterials PGRs Peter Inzani (1st year), Elizabeth Martin (2nd year), and Joshua Hamilton (3rd year).
BIMS on tour.

Welcome to the XM2 summer students

Curious? Ambitious? Energetic? All good qualities to find in a summer student!

We welcome the undergraduates

  • Andy Wild (“Asymmetric Double Square Well on a Circle: The Curious Case of Degenerate States“),
  • Jordan Meadows (“Dirac metamaterials—the quest for new quasiparticles”,
  • and future XM² PGR Conor Price (“2D material liquid crystals“)

to work on CDT summer projects developed by our current third year PGRs Tom Collier, Charlie-Ray Mann, and Ben Hogan, respectively. Earlier this year, Tom, Charlie and Ben had succesfully written project proposals under our new competitive grant writing practise scheme –  and were awarded summer student bursaries of currently £2,750 plus £250 project costs.

In addition, XM² 2nd year PGR Elizabeth Martin is supporting the undergraduate Aleksandra Pac on the summer project “Advanced processing of bio-inspired magnetic devices“.

These projects are a great opportunity for all UGs to boost their skill set and knowledge, and for the PGRs to gain experience in project supervision. The latter might be of particular use to Lizzie when she enters her 3rd study year and will be able to submit a summer student project proposal herself.

Well done all; have fun and good luck with your research!


Jess Brown @ BBC University Challenge

Our very own XM² PGR Jessica Brown  is participating in this year’s  BBC University Challenge. She is representing the University of Exeter alongside Danny Lay (captain – Physics), Will Klintworth (History and IR) , and Simon Waitland (Natural Sciences).

“It’s been my childhood dream for as long as I can remember!”

The popular academic quiz is hosted by Jeremy Paxman, who asks a series of traditionally difficult and particularly specific questions that require a deep and diverse education to be able to answer. The players of the quiz are two teams of four students, who usually represent a single university, or in the case of students from Oxford and Cambridge Universities, the specific college to which they belong. The competition begins with 28 teams, with one team being knocked out and the other progressing to the next round until there is finally one series champion.

Jessica and the team are up against the University of Warwick on Monday 16th July on BBC2 at 8.30pm (

Good luck to the team!



Training and other events in July & August 2018

Date Training/Event Cohort Time Venue
05.07.2018 Cohort Meeting with Alastair Hibbins Cohort 4 15:00 – 16:00 Physics SCR
12.07.2018 Cohort Meeting with Alastair Hibbins Cohort 2 15:00 – 16:00 Physics SCR
18.07.2018 Oversight Board Meeting Cohorts 2 & 3 11:20 – 15:00 Northcott Theatre Restaurant
19.07.2018 Cohort Meeting with Alastair Hibbins Cohort 3 15:00 – 16:00 Physics SCR
31.08.2018 Metamaterials Colloquium:

Hannah Joyce, Cambridge University – “Semiconductor nanowires: from growth to ultra-small, ultra-fast optoelectronics”

All 12:30 – 13:30 Newman Red