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PhD Studentship - Microscopy and Metrology with Molecular Resolution

Nanophotonics Group

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Tuesday 31 August 2021
Reference:  1329721PN

Supervisory Team:    Kevin MacDonald, Jun-Yu Ou, Nikolay Zheludev

 Project description

The Project

Since the invention of the optical microscope in the 17th century and the first observations of microscopic life, improvements in resolving power have been revolutionising sciences across the board. However, after four centuries of research effort, our ability to image objects and their motion at the molecular and atomic scales remains limited. 

This project will leverage recent advances in topology, the structuring of optical fields, metamaterials, optical and electron microscopy, and artificial intelligence, to develop methods that allow imaging of nanostructures and biological objects with unprecedented resolution approaching the atomic scale [Science 364, 771 (2019) doi: 10.1126/science.aaw7840; Adv. Sci. 2002886 (2020) doi: 10.1002/advs.202002886]. Such methods will become indispensable in a large range of disciplines and technological applications from the study of life at the nanoscale to nanodevice manufacturing.

 Our Research Group

You will join a diverse multinational team of students, postdoctoral and academic staff working together on aspects of cutting-edge nanophotonics research – seeking to control light and light-matter interactions at the sub-wavelength scale. A remarkable range of new phenomena is found in this regime, with wide-ranging potential applications in, for example, telecommunications, metrology, sensing, defence, super-resolution imaging, and data storage.

 Our work is supported by major nanophotonics research grants from the EPSRC (£5.6M) and the European Research Council (€2.6M).

 You will have opportunity to develop advanced skills in experimental photonics, computational electromagnetic modelling, application of machine learning and artificial intelligence, electron and optical microscopy, and nanofabrication. 

It is expected that students will publish papers in leading academic journals and present their work at international conferences as their research progresses. 

For further information see:

 The Optoelectronics Research Centre

The ORC is a world-leading photonics research organization. With over 90 state-of-the-art laboratories and 200 researchers working in all areas of photonics, it provides an outstanding interdisciplinary environment for students to grow. 

Our extensive training and mentoring programme provides knowledge and skills through photonics lectures, skills training for report writing, project management, time management, presentation skills and full safety training for your research area. These are all essential life skills for the next step in your career.

For further information see:

 Key facts

 Entry Requirements: A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent) in physics, electronic engineering, chemistry, materials science, or a related discipline.

 Funding: Full tuition plus, for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £18,000 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. Limited funding for EU applicants is available.  Overseas students who have secured or are seeking external funding are also welcome to apply. 

For further information see 

 How to apply: Applications should be made online – see

 Applications should include

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

 For further information please contact: 

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Prof Kevin MacDonald (Nanophotonics Research Group) and/or Dr Eric Plum (Nanophotonics Research Group/ORC Admissions), Email: /

 Closing date: Applications are accepted throughout the year. Start date will typically be September/October 2021, but other dates are possible.

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