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Department of Computer Science

A New Generation of Terahertz Emitters: Exploiting Electron Spin

Primary supervisor

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Other projects with the same supervisor


  • Competition Funded Project (Students Worldwide)

This research project is one of a number of projects at this institution. It is in competition for funding with one or more of these projects. Usually the project which receives the best applicant will be awarded the funding. Applications for this project are welcome from suitably qualified candidates worldwide. Funding may only be available to a limited set of nationalities and you should read the full department and project details for further information.

Project description

Recently, the emission of extremely broadband electromagnetic radiation, spanning from the mid- to far-infrared spectral regime and covering the so-called ???terahertz gap??? in the spectrum, has been observed from ferromagnetic thin-film structures when exposed to femtosecond pulses of light. Such "spintronic" emitters produce pulses of radiation of similar amplitude to conventional terahertz emitters, but at much greater bandwidths. This exciting discovery has led to potential new routes for the generation of terahertz radiation and offers the ability to control the properties of the radiation emitted. As such, this offers the potential to facilitate a wide range of diverse, technologically demanding scientific applications, from improved medical diagnosis to non-destructive testing and advanced airport security scanners. Furthermore, understanding of the fundamental emission process can help establish new characterisation tools for use in developing the next generation of spintronic devices, where ultrafast spin processes are being investigated for data storage and manipulation.

The aim of this project is to investigate the generation of THz pulses of radiation from spintronic structures to reveal the physics that governs the properties of these remarkable material systems and optimise spin-based structures for the emission of THz radiation. The work is experimental in nature and encompasses a number of areas, such as the fabrication and characterisation of metallic thin-film emitters and the investigation of the THz characteristics of such systems.

The project will be jointly supervised by the investigators on the project, Dr Paul W Nutter and Prof Tom Thomson (Nano Engineering & Storage Technology Research Group, School of Computer Science) and Dr Darren Graham (Terahertz Physics Group, Photon Science Institute, School of Physics and Astronomy). You will make use of a range of state-of-the-art facilities available within the Photon Science Institute and the Centre for Mesoscience & Nanotechnology at the University of Manchester, including leading-edge thin-film deposition systems, magnetic and structural characterisation systems (VSM, XRR) and a range of laser spectroscopic techniques including using femtosecond laser systems to perform ultrafast terahertz spectroscopy.

This work will be carried out in close collaboration with several industrial companies. The opportunity to work in collaboration with both international renowned academics and world-leading industrialists will provide training in cutting-edge experimental physics techniques and business awareness. The skills gained will provide a solid foundation for a future career in industry or academia.

Details of the project will be agreed with the interested candidates to tailor the research to their interests. Applications are sought from highly motivated and resourceful students with a first degree (at least 2:1 or equivalent) in Computer Science, Physics, Electrical & Electronic Engineering or a related subject, who have a keen interest in experimental research. A Masters degree in a relevant subject area is preferable but not essential.

For enquires please contact Dr Paul Nutter, Computer Science ( or Dr Darren Graham, Physics & Astronomy (

Person specification

For information


Applicants will be required to evidence the following skills and qualifications.

  • You must be capable of performing at a very high level.
  • You must have a self-driven interest in uncovering and solving unknown problems and be able to work hard and creatively without constant supervision.


Applicants will be required to evidence the following skills and qualifications.

  • You will have good time management.
  • You will possess determination (which is often more important than qualifications) although you'll need a good amount of both.


Applicants will be required to address the following.

  • Comment on your transcript/predicted degree marks, outlining both strong and weak points.
  • Discuss your final year Undergraduate project work - and if appropriate your MSc project work.
  • How well does your previous study prepare you for undertaking Postgraduate Research?
  • Why do you believe you are suitable for doing Postgraduate Research?