Undergraduate summer projects (URSS)
I usually offer an undergraduate summer project, typically in experimental work associated with an ongoing PhD project. Please get in touch to discuss (not available summer 2020).
MSc by Research
Both computational and experimental MSc projects can be arranged within the Surface, Interface & Thin Film Group. In an experimental project you would typically be focusing on one main class of materials, growing and characterising thin films. My computational projects involve density functional theory calculations of surfaces using well-established codes such as CASTEP, SPR-KKR and Quantum Espresso. They are akin to "computer experiments". I also offer joint projects with Elementary Particle Physics on novel UV sensors, which we are applying to real-world problems, such as sub-sea high speed communications, with industrial partners. You are very welcome to bring new ideas for projects but I suggest discussion around the following topics for the coming year:
- Computational project 2020-21: Structure of TaAs and TaSb ultra-thin films
- Experimental project 2020-21: Low pressure physical vapour deposition of thermoelectric thin films
- Joint project 2020-21: Gain and quantum yield in gap gaseous electron multipliers
The MSc by Research is a 12-month course. Assessment is through a thesis, examined by one Warwick and one external examiner. Normally no viva voce (oral examination about the thesis) is required. Theses are typically about 60 pages and should describe original results as well as giving the background to the research area, fully supported by a bibliography. You will be trained in all the methods needed for your research. For example, experimental students will get to take my MPAGS modules in Nano/Surface Science and Vacuum Science to cement the hands-on lab training.
Many of our Surface Group MSc students have gone on to PhD places either in Warwick or elsewhere! Successful completion of an MSc thesis can be a great reassurance to potential PhD supervisors. It shows you can carry through a substantial piece of research from start to finish. We also aim for MSc students to publish papers - here is a recent paper from an MSc project.
PhD projects are more open-ended than MSc by Research. You are typically registered for 4 years, and UK students are funded for 3.5 years. The aim is to submit a thesis within the 3.5 years. Overseas students are usually supported by external scholarships. Again, I offer both experimental and computational projects.
1. Density functional theory
Computational projects involve density functional theory (DFT) calculations of surfaces and thin films using well-established codes such as CASTEP, SPR-KKR and Quantum Espresso. They are much like "computer experiments" - we do not do code development but instead use existing codes to investigate systems of experimental interest. We often work in collaboration with the Theory Group, and high performance computing is supported by the Scientific Computing RTP. Topics of interest include spin-resolved band structure, topological materials, thermoelectric performance and the work function.
2. Molecular beam epitaxy of advanced materials
My experimental projects centre on molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), which is a technique for growing thin films of crystalline materials. We investigate the growth of a wide range of "exotic" functional materials using two dedicated mini-MBE systems. The sample transfer plates used in these mini-MBEs are compatible with all of the ultra-high vacuum analytical methods available in the group. This allows us to examine the top few atomic layers of the films without atmospheric contamination, undertake band-mapping studies and so on. We also use low pressure physical vapour deposition (LP-PVD), with three dedicated chambers. The five growth systems are supported by a dedicated test chamber for effusion cells. I am interested in: