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. 
  • Funding: Full tuition plus, for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £20,000 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. Limited funding for international applicants may be available. Overseas students who have secured or are seeking external funding are also welcome to apply.
  • How to applyApplications should be made online
  • Closing date: Applications are accepted throughout the year. Start date will typically be September/October 2023, 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. 


New Optics Beyond Hertzian Waves: Anapoles and Flying Donuts

Supervisory team: Nikitas Papasimakis, Yijie Shen, 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: Eric Plum Nikolay Zheludev

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.


Photonic time crystals

Supervisory team: Nikolay ZheludevKevin MacDonald

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.  

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