CDT in Metamaterials (ICASE PhD studentship): Antenna efficiency and match manipulation using metamaterials Ref: 3442

University of Exeter

  • South West England
  • ¬£Attractive
  • Academic - PhD/MSc
  • Closing date 30 Apr 2020

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Statement of Research

Joint supervisors: Prof Alastair Hibbins, Prof Roy Sambles

External supervisor: James Dalley

Industry partner: Leonardo

This project will investigate the use of metamaterials and metasurfaces for optimising antenna performance, such as efficiency and directivity.  Other drivers in improving antenna design include the need to minimise weight, thickness and cross-sectional area, to extend bandwidth and reduce cost.

The project will focus on the design of novel metasurfaces that impart artificial boundary condtions in order to achieve the ambitions above.  Metasurfaces will be conceptualised, designed, modelled, fabricated and experimentally tested initially without reference to an antenna.  Multilayered and multidomained designs will be considered that provide a broadband frequency response - this will likely requrie the minaturisation of the resonant elements within these surfaces, and this can be obtained by considering complex geomtries or the use of high-index materials.  The second stage of the project will see the metasurfaces combined with the simplest radiator / antenna designs in order to understand the coupling between the two.  The researcher will then develop the metasurfaces designs in order to match the current distribution in the radiating element, or to otherwise manipulate the antenna performance and functionality: this might include the consideration of anisotropic surfaces.  Once this is undertsood, we will then consider more complex 'off-the-shelf' and bespoke designs of the radiating element in order to maximise the benefits of the combined surface-radiator antnnna system.

The antennas of interest to Leonardo are very broadband covering tens of GHz similar - they find application in civil and defence applications such as wireless communication and aviation. The novelty of this studentship is in the application of metamaterials to optimise the antenna performance. It is quite possible that active or reconfigurable metamaterials are investigated or developed in the course of the studentship. Polarisation manipulation (to maximise the efficient use of the antenna aperture) is also of interest and within the scope of the project. In defence applications, radar cross-section (RCS) can also be important and so will also be considered for favoured antenna and metamaterial options.

The researcher will be involved in all aspects of the project, from a theoretical and conceptialisation stage, through to modelling and design, through to proof-of-concept experimental characterisation and testing.  A strong background in physics or electrical engineering is therefore required, as well as an ability to design and undertake experimental processes.  Her or she will be working as part of team of RF and microwave PhD and postdoc researchers, will be required to report progress regularly to Leonardo, and will therefore be expected to demonstrate excellent communication skills at interview.

About the award

The studentship is part of the UK’s Centre of Doctoral Training in Metamaterials (XM2) based in the Departments of Physics and Engineering on the Streatham Campus in Exeter.  Our aim is to undertake world-leading research, while training scientists and engineers with the relevant research skills and knowledge, and professional attributes for industry and academia.

The studentship is funded via the EPSRC Industrial Cooperative Awards in Science & Technology (CASE) scheme, via a grant awarded to Leonardo.  The successful applicant  will normally be required to undertake regular reporting and visits to the sponsor.  For more details about the Industrial CASE scheme, see https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/skills/students/coll/icase.

The successful applicant will be registered on the XM² programme of study and follow that assessment and training programme. The student will not have the flexibility to change topic after the initial 6 month project.

The studentships are of value around £110,000, which includes £25,000 towards the research project (travel, consumables, equipment etc.), tuition fees, and an annual, tax-free stipend of approximately £16,500 per year.

Sponsor requirements dictate that applicants must be UK or EU Nationals.

Exeter has a well-established and strong track record of relevant research, and prospective students can consider projects from a wide variety of fields:
  • Acoustic and Fluid-dynamical Metamaterials
  • Biological and Bio-inspired Metamaterials
  • Graphene and other 2D Materials, and related Devices
  • Magnonics, Spintronics and Magnetic Metamaterials
  • Microwave Metamaterials
  • Nanomaterials and Nanocomposites
  • Optical, Infra-red and THz Photonics and Plasmonics
  • Quantum Metamaterials
  • Wave Theory and Spatial Transformations

Please visit www.exeter.ac.uk/metamaterials to learn more about our centre and see the full list of projects that we have on offer this year.

About  XM2

Metamaterials are fabricated microstructures having properties beyond those found in nature. They are an important new class of electromagnetic and acoustic materials with applications in many technology areas: energy storage and improved efficiency, imaging, communications, sensing and the much-hyped ‘cloaking’. Having recruited over 80 PhD researchers since 2014, the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (XM2) (www.exeter.ac.uk/metamaterials) will admit the next cohort of PhD students in September 2019.

The first year of the studentship includes an assessed, stand alone project, and a substantial programme of training. Students will choose from a wide range of taught modules, and participate in academic and personal development skills-based workshops, together with creativity events and conference-style meetings. The cohort will also be expected to disseminate their results to the international community via high-impact publications and international conferences. They will spend time working with our academic and industrial partners.  Full details of the programme are available here, or download a copy of our prospectus.

The University of Exeter combines world class research with excellent student satisfaction. It is a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive universities. Formed in 1955, the University has over 20,000 students from more than 130 different countries. Its success is built on a strong partnership with its students and a clear focus on high performance. Recent breakthroughs to come out of Exeter's research include the identification and treatment of new forms of diabetes and the creation of the world's most transparent, lightweight and flexible conductor of electricity. Exeter is ranked amongst the UK’s top 10 universities in the Higher Education league tables produced by the Times and the Sunday Times. It is also ranked amongst the world’s top 200 universities in the QS and Times Higher Education rankings.

Application criteria

Eligible applicants: UK/EU nationals only.

During the application process you will need to upload the documents listed below. Please prepare these before starting the application process.
  • Degree transcript(s) giving information about the qualification awarded, the modules taken during the study period, and the marks for each module taken.
  • An academic CV;
  • A cover letter outlining your research interests in general, the title of the project you are applying for;
  • A Personal Statement consisting of two parts*:
                 - Describe a) why you would like to study for a PhD, b) why you would like to focus on this particular topic, c) any relevant expertise and d) your future career ambitions;
                 - Describe the qualities that you believe will make you a great researcher (in particular as part of a team).

You will be asked to provide the contact details of two academic referees.

* We foster creativity and utilisation of individual strengths. Applicants are encouraged to provide evidence to support their statements. This might include conventional written documents (e.g. examples of work), but we also encourage alternatives such as audio or video recordings, websites, programming etc. Please ensure to include accessible links to such files in an appropriately named document as part of the upload process.

Application procedure

Applications will normally be reviewed within two weeks of receipt from February 2019.
Candidates will be short-listed against a set of agreed criteria to ensure quality while maintaining diversity. Failure to include all the elements listed above may result in rejection.

The essential criteria:
  • Undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline (minimum 2:1);
  • Vision and motivation (for research & professional development)
  • Evidence of the ability to work collaboratively and to engage in a diverse community;
  • Evidence of excellent written and oral skills in English.

The highest quality candidates will also be able to demonstrate one of more of the following:
  • Specialist knowledge about one or more of the 8 research areas listed above;
  • Training in research methodology (e.g. undergraduate research projects);
  • Research outputs (e.g. papers) and/or other indicators of academic excellence (e.g. awards).


Shortlisted candidates will be invited to an entry interview to assess fit to the CDT concept. This will be held prior the academic interview with the supervisors and will normally be undertaken by a panel of 3 people, including a current postgraduate researcher or post-doc in Physics or Engineering.

Interviews are expected to start in February 2019. It is therefore advisable to apply as soon as possible.

Please email metamaterials@exeter.ac.uk if you have any queries about this process.


Application deadline: 30th April 2019
Number of awards: 1
Value: The studentship is of value around £110,000, which includes £25,000 towards the research project (travel, consumables, equipment etc.), tuition fees, and an annual, tax-free stipend of approximately £16,500 per year.
Duration of award: per year
Contact: Dr. Isaac Luxmoore (Admissions Tutor) metamaterials@exeter.ac.uk


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