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PhD Studentship - Monolayer Semiconductor Optics: Combining Excitons with Strongly-Correlated Electrons

Quantum, Light & Matter Group

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Friday 01 April 2022
Reference:  1652822WF

Supervisory Team:    Prof. David Smith

Project description

This PhD combines advanced, laser-based spectroscopic techniques with monolayer materials similar to graphene. It will provide an ideal base for a career in optics, the physics of semiconductors and nanoscience. The PhD will follow on from two PhD students who have both achieved more than 4 papers each in this field during their 3.5 yr PhDs. 

Monolayers of the semiconducting transition metal chalcogenides, e.g. MoSe2, have unique properties due to the electrons, holes and excitons within them being confined to a single atomic layer and the strength of the Coulomb interaction between charge carriers in these materials. Bilayers of these materials formed with a small rotation of one layers lattice relative to the first produce a moiré pattern leading to a wide range of new nanoscale phenomena. These include the possibility to form states in which the electrostatic forces dominate the properties of electrons in these structure leading to collective behaviours like those responsible for high temperature superconductivity. This has led to huge interest in these materials and a wave of Nature papers; e.g. Nature 580, 472–477 (2020); Nature 598, 585 (2021); Nature Communications 12, 6730 (2021).

The group in Southampton are one of the key pioneers in the application of Raman scattering to the study of these materials. They have exploited this technique to measure the binding energy of excitons in bilayer structures for the first time [2D Mater. 8 035047 (2021)]; study the key processes responsibility for scattering of excitons by phonons [2D Mater. 7 045008 (2021)] and to prove the existence of hybrid excitons [2D Mater. 8 035009 (2021)].

 In collaboration with groups at Heriot Watt [Nature Nanotechnology. 16, 1237 (20210] and the University of Washington in Seattle, USA [Nature 546 , 270, 2017)],this project will involve applying Raman, and other high-resolution, laser-based spectroscopies, to the investigation of MoSe2/WSe2 structures in which the existence of strongly-correlated electron states have been proven. The aim of this project is both to generate new scientific insights into the nature of strongly-correlated electron states and investigate the possibility for new optoelectronic devices which exploit the ability to couple these states with light

If you are likely to gain a good degree (1st or 2:1) in physics or a related subject and are excited about doing fundamental science on technologically relevant materials please contact Prof. David Smith ( to discuss further.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 01 April 2022 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: For UK students, Tuition Fees and a stipend of £15,609 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. 

How To Apply

Applications should be made online. Select programme type (Research), 2022/23, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, next page select “PhD  Physics (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor David Smith 

Applications should include

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact: 

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