• Applications Open: Exploring the electrical and physical properties of 2D atomically layered materials with advanced scanning probe microscopy - Closing Date: 19 August 2016

    Location: Manchester 

    Closing Date: 19 August 2016 

    We are looking for an exceptional applicant for a PhD project to understand how scanning probe microscopy (SPM) can contribute to exploring 2D materials and devices. The project is part of the broad research programme supported by the Graphene NOWNANO Centre for Doctoral Training (http://www.graphene-nownano.manchester.ac.uk/) and partially sponsored by BRUKER; PhD research will be conducted in collaboration with research and development scientists at BRUKER. 2D materials cover a wide range of atomically layered systems from graphene to thin films created using a range of techniques including “peeling”, chemical and physical vapour deposition. The project will primarily focus on the physical and electrical properties of 2D materials using novel imaging modes. It is frequently the case that advances in instrumentation lead to new discoveries and a greater level of understanding of the physical world in which we live. Of particular interest for this project are the new SPM modes that have recently been developed but, as yet, are not fully explored. An example of these newer modes includes peak force tunneling atomic force microscopy (PF-TUNA) which provides nanoelectrical characterisation with the very highest spatial resolution.

    New modes such as PF-TUNA open the way to further our insight into the nanoworld. For example, the distribution of physical and electronic properties is a ubiquitous problem in nanoscience as reducing the size of structures or devices to a few tens of nanometers means that classical statistical averaging of properties increasingly fails. Immediate examples of this are in the semiconductor industry where the size of individual transistors starts to approach the density of dopants in the silicon which is responsible for the required semiconductor behavior. In 2D materials these effects can be even greater, for example in devices that rely on tunneling even the absence of a few atoms in a barrier layer can have a significant effect allowing current to travel directly between layers rather than tunnel through the barrier. The interaction of 2D and magnetically ordered materials in spintronic devices will also be a potential area of research.

    Bruker are one of the world’s leading suppliers of scanning probe microscopes which will provide excellent opportunities to interact with industrial scientists including working visits to their facilities in the USA (Santa Barbara, CA). The project would ideally suit a student who is interested in understanding how advances in instrumentation are key to scientific discovery. 

    Outline of research programme:

    • Exploration of advanced functional scanning probe techniques in conjunction with Bruker engineers and scientists

    • Fabrication of atomically layered materials;

    • Device fabrication and optimization;

    • Development of methods for precise electrical measurements in atomically layered materials;

    • Measurement of local and global transport properties;


    Skills to be developed during the PhD:

    • Deposition of atomically layered thin films by physical vapour methods;

    • Handling of graphene and 2D materials;

    • Nanofabrication techniques (lithography, FIB, etc.);

    • Determining magnetic properties of spintronic materials;

    • Advanced SPM techniques (peak force TUNA, KPFM etc.);

    • Transport measurements in nanoscale devices (nanoelectronic measurement setup, spectrum analyser, etc.);


    The BRUKER/Graphene NOWNANO scholarship fully covers fees and maintenance for UK/EU candidates only.


    Applications can be made through the Graphene NOWNANO website 

    Informal enquiries can be made to Prof. Tom Thomson (thomas.thomson@manchester.ac.uk).

  • Apply to join the graphene NOWNANO CDT

    We welcome applications from graduates with an excellent degree (first or upper second) or an equivalent international qualification in science, engineering or biomedical disciplines. Two-dimensional materials, including graphene, have great potential for biomedical research, so we welcome physicians just as much as physicists! Applicants should be looking for a challenging, interdisciplinary research training environment.

    Who can apply?

    Applicants should have, or expect to obtain, a UK undergraduate honours degree or international equivalent, or a first degree with an additional Masters degree or international equivalent.Your online application must include a CV, academic transcripts, and two academic references. It should also include a document of 500 words maximum describing why you wish to be admitted to Graphene NOWNANO programme and including any other information you consider relevant to your application.

    In general, we do not specify a formal deadline for submitting an application to the CDT, however we encourage applicants to apply as early as possible. Typically all available places are filled by the end of March.

    If your application is successful you will be invited to attend an interview where you will have the opportunity to meet the team, learn more about the training programme and undergo a formal interview with academic supervisors. If you have any questions about applying for the programme at this stage, please contact  Charlotte Griffiths.


    Fully funded places are available to UK and EU nationals resident in the UK for >3 years. A small number of funded places are also available to EU nationals not currently resident in the UK.

    We welcome applications from good students of all nationalities, but we are only able to offer financial support to students that fulfil the above criteria.

    Full student eligibility information can be found on the EPSRC website.

    International students are welcome to apply on a self-funded basis (if recipient of external scholarships covering the full costs). There may be alternative funding opportunities available for international students and for more information on this, please visit the University's International student funding advice page. 

    Applying online

    Please apply online here. For help with completing the online application process please read these instructions. As part of your application you will need to provide the following documents:

    • CV
    • Degree Certificates and Transcripts (if you have not completed your degree please include an interim transcript)
    • Details of two academic referees 
    • A statement of purpose describing why you wish to be admitted to the Graphene NOWNANO CDT programme (500 words max)
    • English Language certificate i.e. IELTS (only required if English is not your first language).

    In addition; if you are an overseas student we will also require:

    • Proof of funding if you are self-funded or government sponsored 

    Note: We cannot accept applications in any other form.

    Other enquiries

    For all other enquires, please contact Charlotte Griffiths via email:



    ▲ Up to the top