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!

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.

Beyond a PhD: Dr Ben Masheder speaks about his journey from a UK PhD in Chemistry to postdoc in Japan, SME scientist in Wales, and Innovation Specialist at Business West in Bristol.

On Friday, 29 December 2019, Dr Ben Masheder gave a hugely inspiring talk to the CDT in Metamaterials PhD students on his career progression since he left University with a PhD in Chemistry. He highlighted how not knowing what’s next and just being a nice person by sharing a picture with a research visitor from Japan can lead to an opportunity being dropped on your door step when you most need it.

His experience as a postdoc in Japan was followed by a time of looking for a new opportunity to pay the bills once he moved back to the UK. He outlined how making yourself useful, applying your research skills and adaptability in other areas can lead to quite some CV building and satisfying progress to materials scientists and innovation specialist.

The time Ben has spent working at Sellafield, the National Nuclear Lab, AIST in Japan, and DST Innovations from 2014-2019 brough tabout a huge range of expertise way beyond his PhD topic: from working on controlling formation of solids in legacy nuclear waste tanks, to robust omniphobic dewettable surfaces for metal part protection in machines and engine, and on to photovoltaics, printed batteries/supercapacitors, energy harvesting, wearable electronics, IoT devices, augmented reality, lighting, displays, laser label marking, and flexible electronics.

He enabled his former employer to better understand and apply for funding schemes, and utilised this knowledge sucessfully when it became time to prioritise family time over commuting time: Ben recently started a postion as Innovation Specialist at Business West in Bristol, a not-for-profit company which offers business support to start-up and growing businesses in the West of England.

Ben spoke in a very engaging and approachable way about the bends his career took, and the reasons for his decisions.

We would like to say thanks to Ben for being such a great role model to PhD students who will face the same “What next?” challenge soon enough, and proving that no matter what you do, if you’re open-minded, if you apply yourself and utilise the knoweldge and experience you’ve got, you will find your way, step by step.

Good luck in your new role, Ben. We look forward to engaging further with Business West!

Congratulations to Prof J Knight: Fellow of the Royal Society

Congratulations to the XM2 Oversight Board Chair and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) of the University of Bath, Professor Jonathan Knight, who has been elected to the Royal Society for his exceptional contribution to science.

“Professor Knight, whose research focuses on photonics and optical physics, was instrumental in establishing the Centre for Photonics and Photonic Materials at the University as its founding director. Much of his research has centred on developing photonic crystal fibres – new technologies for fibre design and fibre optics that have had diverse applications from healthcare to atomic physics.

A former Head of the Department of Physics at Bath from 2008 to 2013, and Associate Dean for Research (Science) at the University from 2013 to 2015, Professor Knight’s research has had significant international impact. He was winner of a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2009), the Institute of Physics Optics and Photonics Division Prize (2012), the Rank Prize for Optoelectronics (2018 – with Bath colleague Birks and former colleague Russell), and a Chinese Academy of Sciences President’s International Fellowship for Distinguished Scientists (2019). … READ MORE

“You should sell this concept” – great feedback on our STEM industry careers event

Some of the particpants and exhibitors at our STEM industry careers event for PhD students and postdocs in April 2019 (Reed Hall, Streatham Campus, Exeter).

“You should sell this concept. The engagement with industry was impressive. Also, we made a couple of useful business to business contacts!” ( Charmyn Hall, HR Director, Plasma Technology at Oxford Instruments)

The CDT in Metamaterials hosted its annual STEM industry careers event for PhD students and postdocs on 18 April 2019. We welcomed representatives from quite a wide range of businesses where STEM PhDs could find themselves working in: Babwe Barton Enterprise, BAE Systems, DST Innovations, Granted Consultancy, IOP, Morpheus, NPL, Oxford Instruments, and WaveOptics.

The 15 minute company pitches on who they are, and who they are looking for, was hugely insightful – attitude, mindset, self-starters, problem-solving, and adaptability were key words alongside technical skills requirements.

“The event was fantastic at introducing a wide range of potential employers to PGR’s.  It really opened my eyes to possible future careers.” ( Milly Owens, PhD student in Engineering)

A special mention to our CDT in Metamaterials PhD students Conor Price (1st year) and Julia de Pineda Gutiérrez (3rd year): They agreed a few minutes prior event start to chairing the morning and afternoon sessions, respectively, keeping our speakers on time and moderating the Q&A sessions. They’ve done a very good job on this short notice ‘training opportunity’ to expand their experiences. Well done both!

To quote from our PGR-led twitter post: “A huge thank you to all of the companies who attended our Industrial Careers Event 2019. Their stimulating talks on the career paths open to our PGRs might just lead to future meetings as employees rather than students we hope!”

In short: we’re pleased to see that it was such a successful event and will aim to host it again in spring 2020. Put your company suggestions forward and we’ll try to get them on board for the next careers event!

“The event was great, I enjoyed particularly that HR and internal recruiters were there to answer questions, it really makes the event rich and productive for all!” ( Dr Adolfo de Sanctis, Research Fellow in the Centre for Graphene Science)

XM2 proudly presents: The first Materials for Clean Energy Conference at NPL

Our very first Materials for Clean Energy Conference (MCEC2019) took place from 8 – 10 April 2019 at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL).

The MCEC2019 organisers would like to thank all participants, our sponsors (the CDT in Advanced Characterisation of Materials, the Energy Harvesting Network, the Knowledge Transfer Network, Shimadzu, and Princeton Instruments), and in particular NPL, who have been an amazing host to this conference.

A mixed audience of over 70 researchers from national and international universities, laboratories, and industry made the event a huge success:

The technical program was led by six invited speakers covering innovative development in perovskite/silicon tandem solar cells, thick film energy harvesting, graphene based supercapacitors, and enhanced oxygen elec-trocatalysis. MCEC2019 covered two main themes, i.e. Energy Harvesting on 8th – 9th April and the Energy Storage on 9th -10th April. A total of 54 abstracts from national and international researchers were selected for presentation, which have been organised into 10 oral sessions and three poster sessions.

If you’d like to take part in the next MCEC event (date tbc), do not hesitate to get in touch:

XM2 representation at MCEC2019


  • Mian Zahid Hussein, 3rd year PGR: MOF derived Photocatalysts for highefficient solar-light-driven H2evolution
  • Kieran Walsh, 3rd year PGR: Intercalated graphene electrodes for photovoltaic applications


  • Shane Davies, 2nd year PGR: Nano-scale Patterning ForThermoelectric Applications
  • Kavya Sadanandan, 1st year PGR: Fabrication of semi-transparent triboelectric nanogenerator for wearable devices
  • Ned Taylor, 3rd year PGR: Solving the Riddle of Colossal Permittivity
  • Conor Price, 1st year PGR: Artificial Photosynthesis from Perovskite Materials: A SrSnO3 Case Study
  • Francis Davies, 3rd year PGR: 2D Rules: Band Gap Engineering in Weakly Interacting van der Waals Heterostructures
  • Conor Murphy, 2nd year PGR: FeCl3doped few-layer graphene as flexible electrode in solution processed OLED devices
 More pictures from the day below:

Josh Hamilton passed his viva – well done, and good luck at QinetiQ!

It is our pleasure to announce that Joshua Hamilton, supervised by  Prof Feodor Ogrin and Dr Peter Petrov, has passed his viva with minor corrections. He was examined by Dr Mariana Medina Sanchez (IFW Dresden, Germany)  and Stefano Pagliara  (University of Exeter).

He recently started a postdoc position at QinetiQ,  developing new materials or structures that can be used to control the propagation of microwave radiation.

During his PhD studies since 2015 he presented his work in posters and talks at various conferences, nationally and internationally (e.g. 6th International Conference on Superconductivity and Magnetism 2018 – 3rd place poster prize), and secured two travel grants to attend magnetism conferences in Dresden and San Francisco, respectively.

In addition, Josh organised a 3 day workshop “Bio-inspired Magnetic Systems” at Exeter in 2018.

He published various articles:

.. and his currently preparing two more based on the results during his PhD studies.

Learn more about Josh and his experiences in CDT for Metamaterials:

We wish him all the best of luck in his future career and hope to welcome him back at Exeter in the next few years to inspire the next generation of materials scientists and engineers.

Charlie-Ray Mann: UK representative at the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

Charlie-Ray Mann has been officially accepted as a UK representative for the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting (#LINO19) that will take place 30 June–5 July 2019.

LINO19 will be dedicated to physics. Until now, 41 Nobel Laureates have confirmed their participation. They will meet 580 young scientists from 88 countries for an inspiring dialogue.

Charlie is a 4th year theoretical physics PhD student in the CDT in Metamaterials. He graduated from the University of Exeter in 2015 with a 1st class degree in Physics, during which he was awarded two scholarships for academic excellence and received the Bertie Black Prize for the most outstanding academic performance in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences.

His application was strongly supported by the Royal Society and by a combined effort of his supervisors (Dr. Eros Mariani & Prof. Bill Barnes), some of their colleagues in Physics, as well as our Head of Discipline, Prof Tim Harries, and the University’s senior management.

The participation to the Lindau meeting is a highly selective process as only one student can be nominated every year by an academic institution and only very few worldwide are finally selected by the Lindau committee.

We would like to congratulate Charlie for yet another prestigious achievement and are keen to learn about his experiences at this unique opportunity.

XM2 @ the KTN “Showcasing Emerging Technologies 2019 – Metamaterials” event

What we presented at KTN’s ‘Showcasing Emerging Technologies 2019 – Metamaterials’ event in Birmingham on 19 March 2019:

  • a tag prototype that could revolutionise metallic packaging security (Dr Paul Keatley, Emily Glover);
  • a numerical tool which can be used to design a new class of radio and microwave frequency-based components for communications devices (Dr Conor McKeever);
  • a demonstrator to showcase the modulation of a terahertz beam using optical light, which allows us to quickly take images at terahertz frequencies (Dr Lauren Barr);
  • research currently being undertaken to significantly reduce the profile depth of conformal antennas (Dr Cameron Gallagher).

Our CDT Director, Prof Alastair Hibbins, gave the event’s opening talk on history and relevance of Metamaterials science to the ~130 attendees from UK universities and industrial/governmental institutions.

UoE reseach fellow Dr Paul Keatley opened the demonstrator sessions with an exciting 5 minute pitch on the security tag prototype developed at the University of Exeter: A solution for future protection of high value merchandise in metallic packaging.

Picture (from left to right): Prof Ian Youngs (Dstl); Dr Paul Keatley (University of Exeter, UoE); Shane Davies (CDT in Metamaterials (XM2) PGR/Deregallera); Emily Glover (XM2 PGR, UoE); Dr Lauren Barr (TEAM-A QinetiQ/UoE, XM2 graduate); Dr Cameron Gallagher (PepsiCo/UoE, XM2 graduate); Josh Hamilton (QinetiQ/UoE, XM2 graduate to be [viva on 1 April!]); Dr Thomas Graham (University of Sussex, XM2 graduate); Prof Alastair Hibbins (XM2 Director, University of Exeter).

Careers event: 18 April 2019

On 18 April 2019 we will see the second edition of our STEM PhD student/postdoc-focussed careers event.

A range of organisations (e.g. Babwe Barton Enterprise, BAE Systems, Granted Consultancy, IBM, NPL, Oxford Instruments, WaveOptics) will introduce themselves in 15 minute talks as potential employers, outlining their current research challenges and what they are looking for in new recruits at postdoc level.

During an extended lunch networking session participants will have further opportunity to engage in more detailed conversation with the industry representatives.

In addition, the Institute of Physics will outline how they can support early career researchers in Physics in their career development.

All STEM PGRs and postdocs interested in a career in industry are welcome to attend. The event is free of charge, and registration will open in early April.