Hannah Barnard, Conor Price and Jonas Riisnaes in outreach visit to Ide Primary School

On the 13th February, second year PGRs Hannah Barnard, Conor Price and Jonas Riisnaes visited Ide Primary School, a local school in Exeter, to talk about what scientists and engineers do.

Conor Price

Conor said:

“The children have recently been learning about British engineer Isambard Brunel, and were interested to learn about what other scientists and engineers do. We spoke to the children about our research, what we do in our day to day, and what it’s like to be a scientist. To bring the conversation back to Brunel, we spoke about the important things that need to be considered when building a bridge. We then gave them marshmallows and spaghetti to design and build their own bridges to help Derek the Dinosaur get across the river.”


Hannah Barnard

Hannah said:

“I think the children really enjoyed the interactive parts of the session and were very engaged with the process of designing and building – from thinking about what load a bridge might have to endure, to what materials might be strong enough to build from. Overall the activity was a huge success and very rewarding for us to run. We got to inspire the students and show them just how exciting Science and Engineering can be.”



Jonas Riisnaes

Jonas said:

“It’s amazing how the children chose to solve a problem given some basic materials and ideas – they were all very creative and innovative and used the materials in ways we had never predicted. The variety of solutions the children came up with goes to show the importance of a wider recruitment into the STEM subjects. We all had a lot of fun and learned quite a bit about bridges, engineering and teaching.”

Recent grant successes

Congratulations to three our academics who were recently awarded new funding for research projects:

Well done and well deserved. Good luck with the projects!

Emily Glover explores career opportunities at IOP Publishing

Third year PGR Emily Glover reports on her visit to IOPP last week (19th February):

I visited the IOP Publishing headquarters in Bristol, to learn more about a career in scientific publishing. This was first introduced to me as a career opportunity in my first year, through a ‘Beyond a PhD’ talk presented by an editor from the Nature Communications journal. At that point, I wasn’t thinking about what I wanted to do after my PhD but as I progress, the idea of pursuing a career in scientific publishing and journalism remains. While I enjoy doing my research as part of the PhD, I also enjoy learning about other research that is done, both in my research field and Physics in general. Therefore, when I was given the opportunity to learn more about scientific publishing, I leapt at the chance.

During the day, I met with different employees who work in various different positions. Going into the day, I was aware of editors who received the manuscripts from researchers and moved them through the approval chain, however I learnt that there were many more jobs in publishing. These included the production of the papers, working with authors to make sure the manuscripts are publishable; managing the journals themselves, making sure that the journals were suitable for the readers and any emerging branches of physics could be published in them; and working with respected professors to commission books about high impact topics.

I was incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity, and learn more about what I hope will be my future career. It has shown me that there are more opportunities outside of research that I will be able to pursue, and given me ideas for where I want my future to take me.

Materials Research Exchange 2020 – a poster prize winner and new connections for Exeter

The Exeter metamaterial delegation at the MRE2020 in London (left to right): Joe Shields, Prof A Hibbins, Conor Murphy, Dr Lauren Barr, Dr A Roeding, Elizabeth Martin, Pavel Petrov, and Katie Lewis.

Exeter’s Metamaterials delegation returned from the biennial Materials Research Exchange 2020 event with a poster prize, a wide range of contacts made, and new insights in the UK materials landscape across industry, academia, and UKRI.

2 eventful days in London with over 80 speakers, 1500 delegates, and 70 exhibitors attending enabled interesting conversations on how Exeter’s expertise could feed into projects such as replaceable car batteries; security elements for bank notes; and utilisation of AI for metamaterial identification, modelling, and characterisation. Both Innovate UK’s deputy chair and Chief Business Officer, Simon Edmunds, and EPSRC’s new Head of Advanced Materials, Claire Spooner, visited our stand for conversations on metamaterials and the UKRI landscape.

Prof Alastair Hibbins, Director of the Centre for Metamaterial Research and Innovation and its Doctoral Training Centre XM², engaged the audience in a dedicated metamaterials session with a talk on “Metamaterials v2.0 – Beyond Cloaking”, followed by presentations on acoustic and mechanical/elastic/seismic metamaterials from colleagues at Imperial College London, University of Sussex, and Southampton.

Finally, our very own Conor Murphy, PhD student in our Centre for Doctoral Training (XM²) won 1st prize for his poster explaining how GraphExeter outperforms Indium tin oxide (ITO) as flexible transparent electrode in OLED.

Emanuele Gemo and Joaquin Faneca present at Photonic West conference

Fourth year students Emanuele Gemo and Joaquin Faneca recently attended Photonic West, the biggest conference in the world of photonics, which was held in San Francisco, Moscone centre. In this conference, Emanuele was presenting his work based on “Sub-wavelength plasmonic enhance phase change memory”. Joaquin Faneca was giving an oral presentation relating to his work on “Reconfigurable integrated circuits based on functional materials” and a poster called “On-chip sub-wavelength Bragg grating design based on GSST”.

Emanuele Gemo presenting
Joaquin Faneca presenting

New Publication: Dynamics of spiral spin waves in magnetic nanopatches: Influence of thickness and shape

Congratulations to fourth year PGR David Osuna Ruiz, whose paper ‘Dynamics of spiral spin waves in magnetic nanopatches: Influence of thickness and shape’ was published in Physical Review B last month. The co-authors include CDT alumnus Erick Burgos Parra. An abstract of the paper is below:


We explore the dynamics of spiral spin waves in permalloy nanoelements with variable aspect ratio of geometric dimensions, and their potential use as improved spin wave emitters with no or little biasing field required. Numerical results show that above a certain thickness, propagating spiral waves can be obtained in circular and square shaped elements in a flux closure state. VNA-FMR experiments on 20-nm (thin) and 80-nm (thick) samples confirm two type of spectra corresponding to different dispersions for thinner and thicker elements. We show that, for the thicker films, the vortex core region acts as a source of large amplitude spiral spin waves, which dominate over other modes. In case of the thinner elements, these modes are critically damped. For different shapes of the patch, we show that a rich collection of confined propagating modes can also be excited, modifying the final wave front and enriching the potential of the nanodot as a spin wave emitter. We give an explanation for the intense spiral modes from the perspective of a balance of dipolar and exchange energies in the sample.

CDT Movie Night: Films from the 2010s

The first CDT movie night of the year took place on Friday 24th January, with the theme of films from the 2010s. The winning choice was Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, with 30 PGR attendees.

A big thank you to organisers Ned Taylor and Elizabeth Martin, who are now stepping down to focus on writing up their thesis. The new organisers of the film evening are David Newman and Emily Glover.

L to R: Ned Taylor, Elizabeth Martin, Emily Glover and David Newman