CDT office Xmas closure

The CDT office will be closed from 21 December 2018, 4 pm, until including 1 January 2019. If all goes well business should revert back to normal on 2nd January with Kelyn manning the office full-time, and Deb as usual from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Alastair will return on 3rd January, and Anja on 8th of January 2019.

Riddle time!

An easy one to go with the Christmas celebrations and to kill the digestive time under the festively decorated needle tree: What’s the x standing for?


The answer to last month’s riddle: who killed the scientist?  Gabi and Felice, obviously, if you know your periodic table of elements: 31 => (Ga)llium; 83 => (Bi)smuth; 26 => (Fe)rrum; 3 => (Li)thium; 58 => (Ce)sium.

See all riddles on


From Smart Materials to Smart Things – Smart NanoMaterials 2018 in Paris: Presentation prize for XM2 PGR Charlie-Ray Mann

Charlie-Ray Mann won the prize for best student presentation at the SNAIA2018. He was presented with hi award at the Gala Dinner by Professor Shanhui Fan of Stanford University, USA.

The first European conference on Smart Nanomaterials took place at the École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie in Paris, France, 10 – 13 December 2018:

Internationally known experts, including industry leaders, met at the first European conference on Smart Nanomaterials to discuss the most critical technological advances, innovations and new practical applications in smart technologies. SNAIA2018 will provide a unique platform to meet, share knowledge and establish links between experts from academia and industry in the emerging fields of Wearable and Printed (Opto)Electronics, CMOS Photonics, Quantum Computing, Artificial Intelligence, OptoGenetics, Smart Coatings and Thin Films.

The organising committee was led by Dr Anna Baldycheva, effectively supported by XM² PGRs Ineta Grikalaite, Benjamin Hogan, Joaquin Faneca, Iago Rodrigues-Díez and our alumni Dr Erick Burgos (Unite Mixte de Physique CNRS/Thales).

Well done to the team for the successful conference – and very many congratulations to XM² researcher Charlie-Ray Mann who brought the  best student talk prize for his presentation on his plasmon polaritons research home to Exeter. The talk was voted to be the best for both technical merit and presentational aspects by the chairs of the conference sessions. His prize was presented at the Gala Dinner by Professor Shanhui Fan of Stanford University, USA.


Materials for Clean Energy Conference at NPL – Registration now open

We have the pleasure to announce that registration for the Materials for Clean Energy Conference (MCEC2019), held at the National Physical Laboratory from 8 – 10 April 2019, is now open:

MCEC2019 will focus on the latest developments in the fields of energy harvesting and energy storage, bringing together academics and industry leaders.

The conference is organised by the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Metamaterials of the University of Exeter, with support from the National Physical Laboratory and the CDT in Advanced Materials and Characterisation.

The conference will be held along with the annual Energy Harvesting Network meeting. Having been initially funded by the EPSRC, the Energy Harvesting Network is now a self-sufficient network of UK academic and industrial researchers and end-users of energy harvesting technology.

Invited speakers

Dr Bruno Ehrler
Head of the Hybrid Solar Cells group, AMOLF, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Bruno Ehrler is heading the Hybrid Solar Cells group at AMOLF since 2014. The group focuses on singlet fission and perovskite solar cells, both on the fundamental level, and for device applications. Before moving to Amsterdam, he was a research fellow in the Optoelectronics Group at Cambridge University following post-doctoral work with Professor Sir Richard Friend. During this period, he worked on quantum dots, doped metal oxides and singlet fission photovoltaics. He obtained his PhD from the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Professor Neil Greenham, studying hybrid solar cells from organic semiconductors and inorganic quantum dots. He received his MSci from the University of London (Queen Mary) studying micro-mechanics in the group of Professor David Dunstan.
Prof Robert Dorey
Professor of Nanomaterials, University of Surrey, UK
Professor Robert Dorey holds the chair in Nanomaterials at the University of Surrey and is Fellow of the Institute Materials, Mining and Minerals (FIMMM) and Higher Education Academy (FHEA) as well as a Chartered Scientist and Engineer. Professor Dorey joined the University of Surrey from Cranfield University in 2014. Between 2003 and 2008 he held a prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering/EPSRC Research Fellowship.
Prof Maria Escudero-Escribano
Assistant Professor Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Her group investigates tailored electrochemical interfaces for sustainable energy conversion and electrosynthesis of high-value chemicals and fuels. The research at her group combines electrochemical methods with in situ optical spectroscopy, microscopy and in situ synchrotron-based characterisation techniques in order to understand the electrochemical interface at the atomic and molecular level.
 Prof Paolo Bondavalli

Head of Nanomaterials Team, Thales Research and Technology, France
Paolo Bondavalli is in charge of the transverse topic on Nanomaterials team at Thales Research and Technology and he is a member of the Nanocarb Lab (joint team Ecole Polytechnique/Thales). Presently his work is focused on the development of new materials (e.g. graphene, cnts, nanowires) for the new generation of electronics devices and for energy storage applications and memristor. He is involved in the Graphene Flagship initiative as leader of the task on supercapacitors.
Prof Magdalena Titirici
Professor in Sustainable Materials Chem, Queen Mary University of London, UK
Magdalena Titirici obtained her PhD at the University of Dortmund, Germany. Between 2006-2012 she led the group Sustainable Carbon Materials at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Potsdam, Germany where she also did her Habilitation. In 2013 Dr. Titirici became an Associate Professor in Materials Science Queen Mary University of London. She was promoted to a full Professorship in 2014. Dr. Titirici is the author of around 100 publications in the field of sustainable materials and green nanochemistry, several book chapters and one edited book. Her research interests include porous materials, hydrothermal carbonisation, innovative utilization of biomass and waste, biofuels, CO2 sequestration, electrocatalysis in fuel cells as well as energy storage in secondary batteries and supercapacitors.

XM2 graduation 2018 – a day to be proud

Winter graduation 2018: Sathya, Erick, Lauren, Ben, Sam, and Tim (left to right). We are so proud of you!

Very many congratulations to our XM² graduates in the 2018 winter ceremony.

They joined our first two graduates from summer 2018 (Alba Paniagua Diaz and Tanveer Tabish) in the ranks of XM² PGRs who successfully completed their PhD. A few more from our 2014 cohort are due to graduate in summer 2019; they have completed their vivas (or are about to do so) and we look forward to seeing them walk onto the stage for graduation.

Once again, many congratulations to our graduates – and all the best for your future careers. It was a pleasure working with you and seeing you grow over the past years. May there be many occasions to welcome you back at Exeter in the future!

Graduate thesis supervisors next destination
Benjamin Ash Locally Resonant Metamaterial for Surface Acoustic Waves Geoff Nash, Pete Vukusic Oxford HighQ
Lauren Barr Giving Metamaterials a Hand – Electromagnetic interactions in chiral metamaterials Euan Hendry, Alastair Hibbins postdoc at Exeter
Erick Burgos Parra Time resolved imaging of spin transfer oscillator arrays: towards active magnetic microwave metamaterials Rob Hicken, Feodor Ogrin, Gino Hrkac postdoc at Unite Mixte de Physique CNRS/Thales
Sathya Sai Seetharaman Electromagnetic interactions in one-dimensional metamaterials Bill Barnes, Ian Hooper Metaboards Ltd
Samuel Shelley The Control of Fluid Flow Using Metamaterials Concepts Roy Sambles, Alastair Hibbins, Simon Horsley postdoc at Exeter
Tim Spicer Excitation of picosecond magnetization dynamics by spin transfer torque Rob Hicken, Volodymyr Kruglyak currently interviewing


Impressions of the 2018 graduation reception



UK Terahertz research – Exeter’s successful research representation at a workshop in Warwick

Figure 1: XM2 PGR Rosamund Herapath present her work on the Impact of pump wavelength on terahertz emission of a cavity-enhanced spintronic trilayer.

3rd year XM² PGR Ros Herapath went to the UK THz Workshop in Warwick to present her work on the Impact of pump wavelength on terahertz emission of a cavity-enhanced spintronic trilayer.

She was accompanied by postdocs Peter Karlsen and XM² alumni Lauren Barr who is now working as a postdoc at the Univeristy of Exeter. Lauren presented her latest findings on how Cavity improves optical modulation of silicon for Thz imaging.

Overall, there were 95 participants representing a wide range of institutions within the UK THz community, plus representatives from 5 companies to showcase the latest developments in commercial THz technology. Talks included examining the resonant scattering off AFM tips and measuring the thickness of car coatings.

The workshop built a fantastic platform to network and learn more about the THz research done across the UK. It is set to become an annual event  to further foster the development of THz research within the UK community.

Last but not least, congratulations to Peter for bringing the prize for Best Postdoc Poster Presentation home to Exeter. He made a convincing impression with his poster on “Sign inversion in the terahertz photoconductivity of single-walled carbon nanotube films“!

Figure 2: Peter Karlsen (postdoc at UoE) with his award winning poster on “Sign inversion in the terahertz photoconductivity of single-walled carbon nanotube films”.
Figure 3: Postdoc Lauren Barr (XM2 alumni) presenting her work on Cavity improves optical modulation of silicon for Thz imaging.


New Publication: Microwave edge modes on a metasurface with glide symmetry

Very many congratulations to 3rd year CDT PGR Julia De Pineda Gutierrez for her latest publication on Microwave edge modes on a metasurface with glide symmetry, published in the November edition of Physical Review B. Julia is supervised by Prof A P Hibbins and Prof J R Sambles (FRS). She is currently also representing the 2016 PGR cohort as a member of our Student Advisory Group and works proactively with her peers and the CDT management team to foster a vivid research and training environment for our PhD students and their supervisors.


Figure 7
Figure: Experimental measurement of the fields on top of the sample with the hexagonal shape (left) and the hexagonal hole (right). Both structures have been excited at the top right corner with a loop antenna. The field plots are shown at 21GHz and 25GHz. For both frequencies, only the propagation of the edge mode is supported.


In this work we study planar metasurfaces comprised of two layers of hexagonal arrays of circular metal patches. This two-layer geometry supports a bound surface wave that propagates along the x direction. In our study, each metasurface is infinitely periodic in one direction (x) but only a few periods wide in the orthogonal direction (y). Through experiments and modeling we find evidence of a localized edge mode whose existence is dependent on the relative alignment of the two layers. This edge mode is used to guide the propagation of electromagnetic energy around both triangular and hexagonal shapes.

XM2 visit at IBM in Daresbury

On Friday, 7th December 2018, 16 of our third and fourth year postgraduate researchers visited The Hartree Centre (IBM) in Daresbury.  The Hartree Centre is transforming UK industry through high performance computing, big data and cognitive technologies. We got to know representatives from Daresbury’s IBM research team, who introduced us to their work on data science and how this supports real-world problems in machine learning, chemistry, life sciences, engineering and manufacturing.

IBM’s super computer facilities are quite impressive, and the virtual reality simulator gave us incredible insights in how IBM supports for example the health care sector: Based on the data they received IBM researchers created a 3D version of a 5 year old’s heart to give a surgery team a better understanding of where the hole in it is, hence being able to plan and conduct the operation effectively and as quickly as possible to minimize the impact on the patient. Thoroughly impressive.

We would like to thank Demelza Farrer (IBM UK, University Programs Manager) and Dr Martyn Spink, Programme Director of the IBM UK Research Team (Daresbury Labs), and his team for committing their time and energy to organising the insightful visit. It was very much appreciated and received very positive feedback from our PhD students:

“The visit was very informative. I learned a lot about research in data science and computational modelling. I was very surprised that IBM worked on problems such as healthcare, genomics, and fluid flow!” (Natalie Whitehead, 4th year PGR)

“It was thoroughly interesting seeing interdisciplinary research so prominent in a company. I didn’t realise jobs like these existed!” (Ned Taylor, 3rd year PGR)

“I enjoyed every aspect of this visit. It encouraged me to pursue the path I’m on with renewed hope for the future.” (Emanuele Gemo, 3rd year PGR)

The XM2 PGRs and Dr Martyn Spink (right) in IBM’s creativity encouraging common room in Daresbury.


Miguel Camacho Aguilar – an award for past achievements and a contract for the next step in his research career

Congratulations to 4th year PGR Miguel Camacho Aguilar for his recent Spanish national award of 3,300 € as best undergraduate student in Physics (class of 2015).

He is supervised by Prof A Hibbins and Prof R Sambles and has so far produced 8 publications during his PhD, 3 more are currently under peer-review. He is planning to submit his thesis early next year and his viva examiners are already set (Prof. Guido Valerio from University Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris, Dr Matthew Browning from Astro).

Miguel has recently received (and accepted) the formal offer for the postdoctoral appointment in the group of Prof. Nader Engheta ( at the University of Pennsylvania,  Philadelphia, starting 1 March 2019, and will leaving us therefore a few months earlier than expected.

His future work in the US will be related to metamaterials and plasmonics. Nader invented the field of metatronics, i.e., metamaterial-based optical nano circuitry, in which properly designed nano structures function as “lumped’ optical circuit elements such as optical capacitors, optical inductors and optical resistors. These are the building blocks for the metatronic circuits operating with light. He also worked on graphene photonics and epsilon-near-zero photonics.

Miguel’s current list of publications:

Presentation prize winners 2018

We have the pleasure to announce this year’s month 13 (M13) and month 25 (M25) presentation prize winners.

Very many congratulations and £50 dinner vouchers for the delivery of a fantastic talk about their work after the first and second year, respectively, go to:

Rosamund Herapath (M25): Impact of Pump Wavelength on Terahertz Emission of a Cavity-Enhanced Spintronic Trilayer
Milo Baraclough (M25): An Investigation of the Coupling between Tunable Split-Ring Resonators
Emily Glover (M13): Phononic Band Engineering For Acousto-Magnetic Tagging
Peter Inzani (M13): CFD Modelling of Ferromagnetic Micromotors
Shane Davies (M13): Improving the Efficiency of Thermoelectric Power Generation

The presentations were peer-assessed (on average 40 PGRs provided scores and feedback for each talk) during the annual CDT PGR conference, where all second and third year PGRs present their work from the previous year.
Lesson learned for 2019: Spread the score range from 1 to 10 rather than 1 to 5 to stretch the field a bit more!

L to R: Rosamund Herapath, Milo Baraclough, Emily Glover and Peter Inzani