Ned Taylor passes his viva!

Ned Taylor

Congratulations to CDT student Ned Taylor, who has just finished his PhD. His thesis was titled ‘Ab Initio Exploration of Interface Structures and Their Properties’.

Ned published five papers during his time as part of the CDT and presented at national and international conferences. He was also involved with the Metabuddies scheme- an outreach scheme led by our PGRs, who visit local schools to engage their students in physics and engineering.

Ned looks back on the experience of undertaking his PhD:

It is finally over. I have written my thesis, had my viva, completed my corrections and have been awarded my doctorate. Yesterday I had a final trek up to the Uni as a PhD student to pick up a copy of my thesis that I had printed for prosperity. It is weird to think that it is all over now; below are some of thoughts on my time as a postgraduate researcher.

A PhD is a unique experience for everyone. For me, it was a wonderful time and, although sometimes stressful, it was always worth it. I have relished in the opportunity to conduct research and the freedom to choose my path of study. I have learnt more about the materials that surround us than I had ever expected. The work was demanding, but that was never an issue as the topics were always fascinating. It was amazing going to conferences and have people attend talks to listen to the research that I conducted. Writing scientific papers was often rather tedious, but the outcome was definitely worth it and really helped in the process of writing my thesis.

I have learnt a lot throughout my PhD. In addition to the science, the courses offered by the CDT were, overall, very rewarding and useful. I learnt how to present, how to understand and communicate with others in a team, how to manage projects, how to put myself forward and highlight my skills. I feel that these skills will be vital for progressing beyond the PhD.

The community of PhD students in the CDT offered the chance to forge good friendships. Going on this journey with other PhD students helped me to relax and enjoy the experience. I am also extremely grateful for the support and guidance that my supervisors, Steve Hepplestone and Eros Mariani, have given me throughout the past four years.

As became a theme in the Hepplestone research group near the end of my PhD (before multiple lockdowns, that is), I shall summarise this chapter of my life with a haiku:

DFT was fun
Lots of time spent fighting tech
PhD is done

With my PhD complete, I am now transitioning over into the field of computer science. I have just started a postdoctoral research fellow position at University of Exeter, looking at ways of automating transport models for use in reducing the carbon impact of traffic systems.

We wish Ned all the best with his new role.

Below is a list of Ned’s publications, and conferences he has presented at:

Ned has co-authored the following publications:




Ned has presented at the following conferences:


Training and other events: January 2021 to March 2021

Please find below a table of all upcoming XM² training and other events from January 2021 to March 2021, as far as planning currently allows and subject to change.

PGRs, please highlight any XM²-training related absence times to your supervisors. In regards to annual leave or other absence time planning: all confirmed events have been sent to the PGRs via an Outlook calendar invitation, but please ensure to check the CDT in Metamaterials Outlook calendar and to liaise with your supervisors and the CDT in Metamaterials office ( for approval BEFORE you make any bookings, as there might be a few more events coming up that are yet to be confirmed.

Supervisors, please be mindful of the XM² events when setting expectations on research deliverables with the PGRs.

04.01.21 CDT Group Meetings All PGRs 16:30-17:30 via Teams
12.01.21 Write About Science (Part 1) 1st years 09:00-13:00 via Zoom
13.01.21 Write About Science (Part 2) 1st years 09:00-13:00 via Zoom
22.01.21 ALL: Metamaterials Colloquium, Prof. Roland A. Fischer. Technical University of Munich, ‘Integration of Metal-Organic Frameworks to Devices: (SUR)MOF-Derived Electrocatalysts for Water-Splitting and Fuel Cell Applications’ All PGRs 12:30-13:30 via Zoom
27.01.21 Wave Theory 1st years 09:30-10:30 via Zoom
28.01.21 OPTIONAL: SPARK (Entrepreneurial Skills Course) 4th years, 3rd years, 5th years 09:30-10:30 via Zoom
01.02.21 CDT Groups All PGRs 16:30-17:30 via Teams
03.02.21 Wave Theory 1st years 09:30-10:30 via Zoom
10.02.21 Wave Theory 1st years 09:30-10:30 via Zoom
12.02.21 Metamaterials Colloquium: Prof Marc Holderied, University of Bristol, ‘Acoustic metamaterials give moths stealth camouflage against bat biosonar’ All PGRs 12:30-13:30 via Zoom
16.02.21 Month 6 Assessment Briefing 1st years 10:00-11:00 via Microsoft Teams
17.02.21 and 18.02.21 Leadership Training 3rd years 09:30-16:30 (on both days) via Zoom
19.02.21 Beyond a PhD: Dr Jade Phillips, Research and Development Ingredient Specialist at Jacobs Douwe Egberts All PGRs 12:30-13:30 via Zoom
24.02.21 Wave Theory 1st years 09:30-10:30 via Zoom
03.03.21 Wave Theory 1st years 09:30-10:30 via Zoom
10.03.21 Wave Theory 1st years 09:30-10:30 via Zoom
17.03.21 Wave Theory 1st years 09:30-10:30 via Zoom
17.03.21 Presentation Skills 1st years 14:00-15:00 via Teams (sign-up required)
24.03.21 Wave Theory 1st years 09:30-10:30 via Zoom
25.03.21 Interview Skills 4th years 09:00-17:00 via Zoom
31.03.21 Wave Theory 1st years 09:30-10:30 via Zoom

After six months, (e.g. after the Month 6 project is complete), first year PGRs can undertake teaching and demonstrating, provided that they complete LTHE online training first. The course is self-paced so you can take it whenever you like but please note it is mandatory and you will not be able to undertake teaching and demonstrating until you have completed it.



New Publication: Tunable pseudo-magnetic fields for polaritons in strained metasurfaces

Congratulations to final year PhD student Charlie-Ray Mann whose theory paper, entitled ‘Tunable pseudo-magnetic fields for polaritons in strained metasurfaces’, has been published in the prestigious journal Nature Photonics.

The work has also been featured on the University of Exeter’s news website.

Charlie-Ray Mann, the lead scientist and author of the study, explains:

Charlie-Ray Mann- lead scientist and author of the paper published in Nature Photonics

The interaction between charged particles and magnetic fields gives rise to some of the most fascinating phenomena in physics, ranging from the beautiful Aurora Borealis to the famous quantum-Hall effect. Unfortunately, because photons do not have an electric charge they are inert to real magnetic fields as they do not experience a Lorentz force.

Taking inspiration from graphene physics, we have shown that you can generate `artificial’ magnetic fields for light by distorting honeycomb metasurfaces in a specific way. These distortions generate a ‘synthetic’ Lorentz force which can deflect the surface polaritons into effective cyclotron orbits, and for larger distortions one can also observe Landau quantization of the polaritons — phenomena once thought to be exclusive to charged particles.

However, the main drawback with this approach is that to change the artificial magnetic field one is usually required to modify the distortion in the lattice. This is extremely challenging, if not impossible to do with photonic structures, hindering our ability to tune the artificial magnetic field after the structure has been fabricated — that is, the artificial magnetic fields are usually fixed by design.

In this theoretical work we have proposed an alternative mechanism to tune the artificial magnetic fields, which requires no change to the metasurface distortion. By exploiting the hybrid light-matter character of the surface polaritons, we show that one can tune the artificial magnetic field by modifying the real electromagnetic environment surrounding the metasurface.

Specifically, we’ve shown that by embedding the metasurface inside a photonic cavity or waveguide, one can tune the artificial magnetic field by modifying a single external parameter: the cavity width. In fact, we’ve even demonstrated that you can switch off the artificial magnetic entirely at a critical cavity width, without having to remove the distortion in the metasurface — something that is impossible to do in graphene or any system that emulates graphene.

Using this new mechanism you can bend the trajectory of the polaritons using a tunable Lorentz-like force that can be switched on/off, and you can drastically reconfigure the polariton Landau level spectrum by simply changing the cavity width.

Earlier this year, Charlie-Ray Mann was awarded a £5,000 prize from the Rank Prize Funds 2020.

Management Board and Admin Team- last working dates for this year

Please find below a table of the last working days for this year for CMRI Management Board and the admin team, and their first working day of 2021.

We hope you enjoy the festive season!

Management Board
Staff member Last day in First day back
Alastair Hibbins Tuesday 15th December Monday 4th January
Anja Roeding Wednesday 16th December Thursday 7th January
David Wright Wednesday 23rd December Monday 4th January
Deb Lee Thursday 17th December Monday 4th January
Kelyn Luther Friday 18th December Monday 4th January