Julia De Pineda passes her viva!

Julia De Pineda Gutiérrez with her thesis

Congratulations to Julia De Pineda, who passed her viva this month. Her thesis was entitled ‘Multi-layer metasurfaces for manipulating the propagation of microwaves along surfaces and edges’. Julia published four papers during her time with the CDT.

Below, Julia describes the challenges and rewards of undertaking a PhD and the experience of having a virtual viva:

My years as a PhD student have been an emotional rollercoaster. There have been some very tough times, when I’ve been very close to quitting but there have also been really fun times. And it is the difficult times that make you grow anyway so in the end, I am very happy I decided to stay and finish this project. I also feel very lucky to have been able to work with my supervisors who have always been there to point me in the right direction, even when I thought my research was not getting anywhere. I would also like to highlight the role of the CDT regarding the soft skills training that we received along the way. I feel that sometimes as student we don’t see the importance it has but now that I am starting to look for a job I realise how many transferable skills I have acquired during these four years.

From my time as a PhD student I take some really good friends with me and many great experiences, specially from all the conferences I’ve got to attend and the amazing places I was able to discover in the meantime. However, I am very pleased that this time is over and I am very much looking forward to an exciting new adventure, whatever that is. In any case, I am sure I will take with me everything I have learnt these years, both personally and professionally. I can definitely say that I am a better version of myself than I was four years ago and to me that’s the greatest achievement.

Finally, I would like to say that submitting my thesis in the middle of a global pandemic and therefore having a virtual viva was something I was not ready for and could never have imagined when I started my PhD. But it was alright in the end and an enriching experience after all. So I would like to tell anyone in a similar situation to relax and try to get the most out of the experience. I am sure in the future we will look at it in a different way and realise that it made us learn and grow.

Julia is considering retraining as an air-traffic controller. We wish her the best of luck in her future endeavours.

Below is a list of Julia’s publications and conferences she has presented at:

Julia has co-authored the following publications:





Julia has presented at the following conferences:

  • J.D de Pineda, A.P Hibbins, J.R Sambles; Presentation: “Metasurfaces for high index effective media”, 2019 IEEE Radio and Antenna Days of the Indian Ocean (RADIO), Reunion, Reunion, 23 – 26 Sept 2019
  • J.D de Pineda, A.P Hibbins, J.R Sambles; Presentation: “Exploration of Microwave Edge modes in metasurfaces with Glide symmetry”, 13th International Congress on Advanced Electromagnetic Materials for novel wave phenomena (Metamaterials), Rome, Italy, 16 – 21 Sept 2019
  • J.D de Pineda, G.P. Ward, A.P Hibbins, J.R Sambles; Presentation: “Exploration of Edge Modes formed in periodic hexagonal metasurfaces with glide symmetry”, 12th International Congress on Advanced Electromagnetic Materials for novel wave phenomena (Metamaterials), Espoo, Finland, 27 Aug – 1 Sept 2018
  • J.D de Pineda, A.P Hibbins, R.C Mitchell-Thomas, J.R Sambles; Presentation: “Multilayer Hexagonal Metasurfaces for Antenna Applications”, APS/URSI 2017, San Diego, California, 10-14 July 2017
  • J.D de Pineda, A.P Hibbins, R.C Mitchell-Thomas, J.R Sambles; Poster: “Multilayer Hexagonal Metasurfaces for Antenna Applications”, EUPROMETA school, Bordeaux, France, 4-7 April 2017

Pablo Martinez Pancorbo submits his thesis!

Congratulations to PGR Pablo Martinez Pancorbo, who submitted his thesis this month and on 18th September, successfully passed his viva.

Here’s Pablo’s words on the challenges and rewards of undertaking his PhD and his time with the CDT:

My thesis is submitted just in time!

It has been four years working on this incredible research with so many complications and unknowns. But there is light at the end of the road. Neither cancer nor the coronavirus pandemic has stopped me from getting my thesis ready.

During these beautiful years, I have grown and matured beyond what I thought I could. I had memorable experiences and met wonderful people, along with obtaining exciting results and shared them in international conferences around the world. Some of my colleagues on this journey are now my closest friends. I have worked in a broad range of disciplines and regularly collaborated with physicists, chemists, engineers and biologists. I had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant in many modules which included mathematics, physics, fluids engineering and computer science, which lead me to get a teaching fellowship. Moreover, I helped to organised many events for early career scientists over the years, received serval prizes and participated in the QUEX HealthTech Hackathon. However, bad things happened too such as multiple failed experiments during my first six months, getting stuck at the airport in the Rochester (NY) during a research visit due to adverse meteorological conditions and misappropriation of the ownership of my successful grant proposal from the OSA.

I see my PhD as a time of personal growth and independent critical thinking. Thanks to the soft skills I developed in various pieces of training during this time, I managed to receive several small grants and I was awarded the JSPS postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Tokyo, which (if the coronavirus travel restrictions allow) will be my next step in my research journey. I am excited and confident about implementing all I learnt in future career stages.

We congratulate Pablo on his postdoctoral fellowship and wish him the best of luck for his future.

Pablo’s achievements include:

  • March 2019, 1st Prize in #RSCChemBio (Chemical and Biology Interface) at RSC Twitter Poster Competition by Royal Society of Chemistry
  • March 2018, 2018 IOM3 Young Persons’ Lecture Competition South West of England and South of Wales Winner Award by The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3)
  • 2018 IOM3 Young Persons’ Lecture Competition Exeter Winner by The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3), February 2018.
  • 2018, STEM for Britain selected presenter representing Exeter at Houses of Parliament.


Pablo presented at the following conferences and workshops:

  • Poster:Organ-on-a-Chip, Current Gaps and Future Directions Conference, 2019. GSK’s Medicines Research Centre, Stevenage, United Kingdom
  • Professional Youtube video: “Nanoparticles for cancer imaging and treatment – Pablo Martinez Pancorbo”, recorded by IOM3, 20th November 2019
  • Poster: “In vitro human toxicity assessments of novel multifunctional nanoparticles for cancer theranostics”, GW4 3Rs Symposium, 2019
  • Poster: “Imaging and Treatment of Cancer Cells with smartly Designed Magnetoplasmonic Nanoparticles”,GW4 Nanomedicine Workshop, 2019
  • Poster: “Fe2O3-SiO2-Au Composite Nanoparticles for Potential Cancer Theranostics”, 14th International Conference on Materials Chemistry (MC14) 2019, Birmingham, United Kingdom
  • Poster:”“Fe2O3-SiO2-Au Composite Nanoparticles for Potential Cancer Theranostics”; 6th Nano Today Conference 2019, Lisbon, Portugal
  •  Oral presentation; Speaker at Pint of Science 2019, Exeter, UK, May 2019
  •  Oral presentation: “Smartly designed composite nanoparticles for potential cancer therapy and diagnosis” as invited speaker at West of England Metals and Materials Association (WEMMA), 2018.
  • Presented talk at NanoBio Conference 2018, Heraklion, Crete, Greece, 2018
  • Youtube video: “Elevator Pitch: Pablo Martínez Pancorbo”, 11th December 2017
  • Pablo Martinez Pancorbo, Kunyapat Thummavichai, Nick Stone, Yanqiu Zhu; Poster: ‘Au-SiO2-WOx Core-Shell Nanocomposites For Biomedical Imaging Applications’, MC13 – RSC, Liverpool, UK, 25th July 2017
  • Pablo Martinez Pancorbo, Kunyapat Thummavichai, Nick Stone, Yanqiu Zhu; Poster: ‘Au-SiO2-WOx Core-Shell Nanocomposites For Biomedical Imaging Applications’, Infrared workshop, Exeter, UK, 8th July 2017
  • Pablo Martinez Pancorbo, Kunyapat Thummavichai, Nick Stone, Yanqiu Zhu; Poster: ‘Characterization of Nickel microarray in SEM’, MMC2017 – RSM, Manchester, UK, 7th July 2017
  • Pablo Martinez Pancorbo, Kunyapat Thummavichai, Nick Stone, Yanqiu Zhu; Oral presentation: ‘Magnetic-Plasmonic Core-Shell Nanocomposites for Biomedical Imaging’, Living Systems Institute Imaging Symposium, Exeter, UK, 26th May 2017
  • Pablo Martinez Pancorbo; Oral presentation: ‘Smart materials, the oncoming revolution’, IOM3 Young Persons Lecture Competition, Exeter, UK, 15th February 2017
  • Pablo Martinez Pancorbo, Nick Stone, Yanqiu Zhu; Poster: ‘Au-SiO2-WOx Core-Shell Nanocomposites For Biomedical Imaging Applications’, Postgraduate Research Showcase 2017

Charlie-Ray Mann awarded £5,000 prize from the Rank Prize Funds 2020

Charlie-Ray Mann pictured with 1985 Nobel Prize winner Klaus von Klitzing at the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

Congratulations to final year PhD student Charlie-Ray Mann who has been awarded a £5,000 prize from the Rank Prize Funds.


The Trustees of the Rank Prize Funds decided to offer a number of awards, each worth £5,000, for final year PhD students in UK universities who have a major commitment to teaching and research in optoelectronics, and who are likely to embark on a successful research career.  The scheme was set up to support students through the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Every university in the UK was invited to nominate up to two final year PhD students from different departments or schools.


The University of Exeter nominated Charlie-Ray Mann as the candidate from the School of Physics and Astronomy, and he was awarded the prize by the Optoelectronics Advisory Committee. His PhD work, under the supervision of Dr Eros Mariani and Prof Bill Barnes, focuses on the theoretical investigation of novel Dirac and topological polaritons supported by metasurfaces embedded in photonic cavities. Charlie’s research has been published in several top-level journals, including Nature Photonics (2020) and Nature Communications (2018).

XM2 Minerva Prize Colloquium Winner Announcement

We are delighted to announce that the winner of this year’s inaugural Minerva Prize Colloquium is Louisa Brotherson, a PhD student at University of Liverpool. She will be giving a talk on “Absolute acoustic sensor calibration for quantifying lab-generated earthquake sources”, delivered via Zoom on Friday 2nd October 2020. Congratulations Louisa!

Louisa Brotherson, Minerva Prize Winner 2020

The Minerva Prize is a new initiative, created and organised by a committee of CDT PGRs. Two committee members- second year PGR Connor Sait and third year PGR Emily Glover– discuss the ethos of the prize and the experience of implementing their idea into practice.


The time spent organising the first XM2 Minerva Prize has been very valuable to me. I would like to thank the XM2 management board for giving the Minerva Prize team of postgraduate students the freedom and support to organise the prize in a way that represents us.

We are delighted with our choice of prize winner Louisa Brotherson, whose application for the talk was incredibly strong. I am very excited for the chance to chat with Louisa and we are confident that her talk on the use of acoustic sensors for earthquake quantification will be a hit with the XM2 CDT!

Connor Sait

Being a part of the Minerva Prize organising committee has highlighted to me the important aspects of being part of an effective team. We have worked hard to build this event and shown great teamwork in the process. Our third year member Emily Glover in particular has worked very hard to bring things together and brought a positive and optimistic attitude to the group dynamic.

The Minerva Prize was suggested for the benefit of PhD researchers – whose opportunities to discuss their work are limited in comparison with later stage researchers – and particularly for our own postgraduate students at the Exeter metamaterials group to meet and hear about the work of a researcher at the same stage of academic development.

I would strongly encourage other XM2 postgraduates to bring their ideas for events and opportunities for the CDT to the management team. In this case, I brought the idea for a talk given by a PhD student to our programme manager Anja Roeding, who gave it serious consideration and took quick and effective action to put the foundations for the prize in place and get things off the ground. Our CDT administrator Kelyn Luther has also been a great help to us from the very beginning in organising this event. Thank you Anja and Kelyn!

I would like to thank everybody else who has given their support to the prize. I hope you all enjoy Louisa’s talk in October, and that the 2020 XM2 Minerva Prize Talk will be the first of many talks by PhD researchers, for PhD researchers here at Exeter XM2.

Emily Glover


Being a part of the Minerva Prize Organising Committee has been a great experience for me. I have enjoyed some of the more creative opportunities that it has afforded me, including building a website that we used to advertise our prize. It also taught me how much work goes in behind the scenes, and how stressful waiting for people to apply can be! Receiving our first abstract was so exciting, and I can’t wait to hear the talk from our winner.

David Newman chairs session at UK Magnetics Society Student Conference

David Newman

Second year PGR David Newman reently chaired a session at UK Magnetics Society Student Conference where he chaired a session and presented a talk entitled ‘Electrical detection of a DC spin current through an epitaxial antiferromagnetic NiO layer’.

The event was virtually hosted by the UK Magnetics Society to provide a platform for PhD student conference talks that had been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and also included several talks from academics and industrialists about their experiences in magnetism.

David reports on his experience:

I was responsible for chairing the session on “Nanoscale Magnetics” which featured a broad range of topics from spintronics to materials modelling. Running the session gave me valuable experience in event organisation/management whilst also getting the opportunity to network with other PhD speakers from across the country.

The term “spin currents” refer to the flow of intrinsic spin angular momentum without an accompanying charge transfer (as in a traditional electrical current). In my talk (originally planned for Intermag2020), I showed how the inverse spin Hall effect can be used to transfer a spin current into an electrical current for convenient measurement and applied this to a complex multilayer stack with an antiferromagnetic NiO layer. This work is of particular relevance to magnetic data storage which has turned to spintronic concepts and antiferromagnets for denser magnetic data storage which is more energy-efficient and operates at higher speed.

The conference offers a platform to those students working in magnetics related subjects to talk about their research and work.