The University of Southampton

Nanophotonics and Metamaterials

Work at the forefront of global photonics and advanced materials research:

We are seeking students with a good understanding of physics and a degree in a related discipline to work with us on a variety of inter-related projects under major nanophotonics research programmes funded by the EPSRC (£5.6M) and the European Research Council (€2.6M).

You will join a strong international team of students, postdoctoral and academic staff working together on aspects of cutting-edge nanophotonics research – seeking to understand, control and utilize light and light-matter interactions at the sub-wavelengths scale. A remarkable range of new phenomena is found in this regime, with wide-ranging potential applications in, for example, telecommunications, metrology, sensing, defence, super-resolution imaging, and data storage.

Our projects are an opportunity to develop advanced skills in experimental photonics, computational electromagnetic modelling, application of machine learning and AI, electron and optical microscopy and nanofabrication. It is expected that students will publish a number of papers in leading academic journals and present their work at major international conferences as their research progresses.

Find out more about life as a postgraduate student at the Optoelectronics Research Centre, and the support available (including generous stipends for UK students).

The projects will be supervised by the team of Professor Nikolay Zheludev FRS, Professor Kevin MacDonald, Dr Eric Plum, Dr Nikitas Papasimakis, Dr Vassili Fedotov, and Dr Yjie Shen. See more details at

Please direct informal enquiries to Professor Zheludev and Dr Plum including a copy of your CV.

Group website 

All PhD projects:

  • Entry Requirements: A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent) in physics or a related discipline. 
  • FundingFor UK students, tuition fees and a stipend at the UKRI rate plus £2,000 ORC enhancement tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years (totalling around £21,000 for 2024/25, rising annually). EU and Horizon Europe students are eligible for scholarships. CSC students are eligible for fee waivers. Funding for other international applicants is very limited and highly competitive. Overseas students who have secured or are seeking external funding are welcome to apply.
  • How to applyApplications should be made online
  • Closing date: Applications are accepted throughout the year. Start date will typically be September, but other dates are possible.


Currently available PhD projects:

Picophotonics: The Science of Light-Matter Interactions at Sub-atomic Scale

Supervisory team: Kevin MacDonald, Nikolay Zheludev

This project will develop new concepts of optical imaging, metrology and device functionality at the atomic (picometre) scale, leveraging recent advances in topology, the structuring of optical fields, metamaterials, and artificial intelligence - see “The Birth of Picophotonics” [Optics & Photonics News, Sept. 2023]


Photonic time crystals

Supervisory team: Kevin MacDonald, Nikolay Zheludev

Time crystals are an eagerly sought phase of matter in which time-translation symmetry is broken. This project will explore nanophotonic structures that can be driven to a state possessing all key features of a time crystal. Such media offer exciting applications in a new generation of photonic devices - see “The Birth of Picophotonics” [Optics & Photonics News, Sept. 2023].


New Optics Beyond Hertzian Waves: Anapoles and Flying Donuts

Supervisory team: Nikitas Papasimakis Nikolay Zheludev

This project will advance optics and electromagnetism in the first radically new direction to emerge since Hertz, Marconi, Popov and Tesla originally developed technology for generating, detecting, and communicating with transverse electromagnetic waves. It will study the generation, propagation and interaction with matter of “Flying Toroids” - a new type of light pulses. 


Metamaterials and Nano-Machines Driven with Light

Supervisory team: Nikolay ZheludevEric Plum

The balance among elastic, electromagnetic and quantum forces changes dramatically at the nanometre scale. This project will explore the remarkable range of functional materials and devices that can be reconfigured with light and electromagnetic forces. 


Topological metamaterials for optical wave control

Supervisory team: Dongyang Wang, Nikolay Zheludev

Topological photonics is a rising field of research that implements topological ideas with optical materials. Such topological materials support unidirectional or defect-immune electromagnetic wave propagation, which is favoured by future photonic technologies. This project will explore novel topological transport based on metamaterial or nanostructure design, aiming to deliver recipes for building topological optical devices.


We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.