2D materials based ultra-thin memory storage: efficient energy conversion and novel device platforms

Supervisor: Elton Santos

Two-dimensional (2D) atomic crystals, such as graphene, boron nitride (hBN) and transition metal dichalcogenides (MoS2, WSe2, etc), have emerged as a new class of compounds with remarkable chemical and physical properties because of their unusual electronic structure. These thin, lightweight, bendable, highly rugged materials could bring dramatic changes to information processing and communications, with applications in conformal displays, wearable computers (e.g. Apple watch), and smart environments in terms human-electronic integration (e.g. touchscreens). However, the knowledge of how different 2D crystals can be combined and display a completely new set of chemical features is little known.

The Project
This PhD studentship is a joint initiative with the National Graphene Institute (NGI) in Manchester and the University of York. Established collaborations with the groups of Prof Kostya Novoselov (Nobel Laureate) and Dr Ivan Vera Marun, both in the NGI, and the group of Dr Richard Evans, in York, on the study of the electronic and magnetic properties of novel 2D materials are in place. The studentship will be developed in close collaboration with these groups with several long visits to NGI and York as an essential part of the project. 

You will be working on the forefront of several theoretical and simulations methods to investigate novel strategies for nanoelectronic devices where new ingredients, such as electron spin, can be included in optically transparent thin film logic gates, light emitting diodes and field effect transistors.

This project includes:

  1. The design and development of low-dimensional material platforms using controlled search for assembling of atomically thin structures;
  2. The exploration of different types of physics and chemistry driven by quantum coherent electronic states that can be used in optoelectronic devices;
  3. Investigation of new phase transition phenomena due to the emergent orders driven by externals parameters (e.g. electric bias, temperature, etc.);
  4. Applications based on novel functionalities.

Group members will benefit from a vibrant scientific environment at the Atomistic Simulation Center (ASC). The stipend is very competitive and we also offer outstanding computational facilities at QUB, UK National Supercomputing Service (ARCHER), MMM Hub (THOMAS Supercomputer) and a MacBook Pro’s for new students.

Applicants should have a university degree in physics, chemistry or equivalent, experience in coding and performing electronic structure calculations as well as good level of English. Imaginative and highly motivated candidates from the UK or that have been UK residents for the past 3 years are encouraged to apply. The position is available immediately, and the start date is negotiable.


[1] A. K. Geim and I. Grigorieva, Nature 499, 419 (2013).

[2] Z. Guguchia, A. Kerelsky, D. Edelberg, S. Banerjee, F. von Rohr, D. Scullion, M. Scully, M. Augustin, D. A. Rhodes, Z. Shermadini, H. Luetkens, A. Shengelaya, C. Baines, E. Morenzoni, A. Amato, R. Khasanov, J. C. Hone, S. J. L. Billinge, Y. J. Uemura, Elton J. G. Santos, A.N. Pasupathy, Science Advances, 4 (12), eaat3672 (2018).

[3] Lu Hua Li, Q. Cai, T. Tian, C. J. Shi, Elton J. G. Santos, Nature Communications, 1271 (2018).

[4] A. Falin, Q. Cai, Elton J. G. Santos, D. Scullion, D. Qian, R. Zhang, Z. Yang, S. Huang, T. Taniguchi, M. R. Barnett, Y. Chen, R. S. Ruo, L. Hua Li, Nature Communications, 8:15815 (2017).

[5] J. Jagielski, S. Kumar, M. Wang, D. Scullion, R. Lawrence, Y.-T. Li, S. Yakunin, T. Tian, M. V. Kovalenko, Y.-C. Chiu, Elton J. G. Santos, S. Lin, and C.-J. Shih, Science Advances, Vol. 3, no. 12, eaaq0208.

Author: esantos

Dr. Santos was initially trained at the Donostia International Physics Center where he received a European M.Sc. (2008), and subsequently a European PhD (2011) in physics at the Danish Technical University and the University of the Basque Country. He was awarded the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) Fellowship to perform independent postdoctoral research in computational materials science in energy and functional materials. While in Harvard SEAS, he was awarded three different prizes from the American Physical Society (APS), which include the 2012, and 2013 APS March Meeting Image Gallery Awards, and the 2013 APS March Meeting Cover Award. He moved to Stanford University in 2013 to be named Research Fellow at the Department of Chemical Engineering and SLAC National Laboratory, and in 2015 Research Associate in Energy Materials. He was appointed as a Queen's Fellow at Queen's University Belfast in the United Kingdom, with a lectureship at the School of Mathematics and Physics.