PhD and Postgraduate Research

How to Apply

Funded and self-funded applications

To begin the process you will need to find a PhD Supervisor whose research interests align with your own. You will need to contact them to discuss your application.

Industry-funded applications

Launch your career in research and development with an industry-focused, three-year funded PhD for graduates with a background in scientific disciplines. Each PhD is tailored to both the subject and the requirements of a specific industry.

To submit an application, simply create an account on the My Applications website and then select ‘Create a new application’ from your homepage once you are logged-in.

Using your account on the My Applications website, you are able to submit applications for the programme(s) which you wish to study, upload supporting documentation and provide us with information about referees. You may apply for all our postgraduate programmes using this method.

Current Lancaster Students

If you are a current Lancaster student, or you have recently graduated from Lancaster, we can reduce the amount of information that you will need to provide as part of your application. You will need to provide only one reference and will not need to supply your Lancaster degree transcript. We will also pre-fill your personal details, ready for you to check.

If you use the My Applications website then you will be advised which documentation you need to upload or send to us. We can automatically contact your referees once you have submitted your application if you ask us to.

The supporting documentation screen will provide you with a list of required documents. These will usually include:

  • Degree certificates and transcripts of previous higher education (college/university) degrees or other courses that you have completed/for which you are currently studying.
    For transcripts in languages other than English, a certified English translation will be required.
  • A personal statement to help us understand why you wish to study your chosen degree.
  • You also need to complete a research proposal which should include the following:
    • the research area you are interested in
    • the research question(s) you are specifically interested in
    • who within Physics appears best qualified to supervise you
    • the methods you envisage using in your studies
    • plus any other information which may be relevant
  • Two references
  • If English is not your first language, we require copies of English language test results.

You can apply at any time of the year for PhD study, but we encourage you to start at one of the predefined start dates of October, January or April. In some circumstances, a July start date will be considered. An MSc by Research will usually start in October. If you wish to be considered for funding, are applying form overseas or require on-campus accommodation, we recommend you apply as early as possible.

We usually interview candidates on selected dates towards the end of January.

Charlotte Owen - PhD Student

“Studying in the Physics department at Lancaster has been such a great experience. Physics feels like a great big family, very welcoming, friendly and people are always up for doing things, whether it’s sports or drinks. There are lots of opportunities to be involved with the Physics department itself, such as helping with undergraduate teaching or taking part in outreach events.

"My research is in theoretical cosmology so I enjoy helping out with experimental demonstrations occasionally to mix things up. One of the best things about studying at Lancaster is the proximity to the amazing countryside, something you should definitely make the most of if you study here.  The city also has a huge number of excellent pubs!“

Research Areas

Research projects leading to the award of a PhD are available in all areas of research spanned by our research groups.

These programmes of study allow you to focus on a specific area of physics under the supervision of academic staff with international reputations in their discipline, whilst taking lectures and undergoing appropriate skills and research training provided by the Department and Faculty.

Research with the Department of Physics is organised into four divisions, each with two or three more specialist research groups. The divisions and research groups are:

AstrophysicsParticle and Accelerator PhysicsExperimental Condensed MatterTheory
Observational Astrophysics Experimental Particle Physics Low Temperature Physics Condensed Matter Theory
Theoretical Particle Cosmology Accelerator Physics Quantum Nanotechnology Mathematical Physics
Space and Planetary Physics   Non-linear and Biomedical Physics Theory of Molecular-Scale Transport

Each research group is led by permanent academic staff whose research is supported by postdoctoral researchers and technical staff. During your PhD, you will become an integral part of these teams and will benefit from the intellectual environment provided by your research group and division. You will also be allocated a supervisory team who will support you through your studies.

James Edholm - PhD Student

"Lancaster has a great community feel – everyone is so friendly and helpful. The Physics department is very close-knit and it feels like we are all in it together. I’ve loved the experience of doing cutting-edge research and coming up with my own projects. There’s also wonderful scenery close by and a great sports centre, not to mention plenty of pubs!"

PhD Supervisors

I am happy to supervise PhD projects on topics in space and planetary physics covering giant planet systems (Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, and their moons/rings), and also astrophysical magnetospheres such as those around Brown dwarfs and exoplanets. PhD projects can either be focused on data analysis, using data from deep space missions such as Cassini-Huygens and Juno, or on computational modelling, or a combination. I have a particular interest in data science applications in planetary science and can offer projects with a strong element data mining, machine learning, and Bayesian analysis.

View Chris's profile

Dynamics of Jupiter’s magnetosphere: We are entering a new era of understanding of giant planet environments thanks to the Juno mission at Jupiter and concurrent Hubble Space Telescope images of Jupiter’s UV aurora. The combination of these measurements allow us to probe how the vast magnetosphere responds to changes in the external (e.g. solar wind) and internal (e.g. the volcanic moon Io) conditions. This project will exploit the available data to investigate the mechanisms and timescales of Jupiter’s magnetospheric dynamics.

View Sarah's profile

1) Intriguingly, there may be low-mass (sub-eV) particles in our Universe that have so far escaped detection. Light shining through a wall (LSW) experiments are one technique for looking for particles such as the elusive axion (which is motivated by the solution to the 'strong CP problem'). PhD projects are available in the design, construction and analysis of data from innovative small-scale experiments searching for hidden-sector photons, axions and axion-like particles. 2) Very-intense sources of gamma-rays and positrons are required for a range of applications from the the highest energy particle colliders to low-energy spectroscopy. Sources of polarised positrons are particularly useful and my group has experience with the design of polarised positron sources based on helical undulator insertion devices perturbing high-energy electron beams. PhD projects are available designing and developing future sources and exploring the physics that they make possible. 3) In addition, projects are available simulating the beam dynamics of particles within the Fermilab Muon g-2 experiment which is searching for physics beyond the Standard Model by making a precise measurement of the anomalous magnetic moment of the muon.

View Ian's profile

Measurement of branching fraction of the semileptonic top quark decay to tauon. The Standard Model assumes the lepton flavour universality (LFU). Within this assumption, weak interaction of all leptons is exactly the same. However, the recent measurements of decays of B hadrons demonstrate an intriguing hint of deviation from LFU. The goal of this research is to test LFU in the semileptonic decay of the heaviest top quark to tauon and to measure the corresponding branching fraction with high precision. The statistics are collected by ATLAS experiment at CERN and is already available.

View Guennadi's profile

- Cosmic Inflation in the early Universe Cosmic Inflation is a period of superluminal expansion of space just after the Big Bang. It is fixing the initial conditions of the Universe history, in that it makes the Universe large and uniform. Additionally, inflation generates quantum-mechanically the controlled violation of uniformity necessary for the build-up of structures such as galaxies and galactic clusters. Inflation is under new light due to the recent cosmological data, such as the Planck CMB observations. Several families of inflationary models are now excluded, while new research on the favoured models overlaps with concerns over the stability of the electroweak vacuum (Higgs inflation) and the UV completion of gravity (R^2 inflation). The discovery of gravitational waves has ignited new interest in detecting primordial gravitational waves, quantum generated during inflation, which are a smoking gun for inflation theory, and motivates forthcoming missions (e.g. POLARBEAR). - Quintessential Inflation and Dark Energy Observations suggest that the Universe at present is engaging anew in a period of late time inflation, determined by a mysterious substance called dark energy, which makes up about 70% of the density budget of the Universe today. Dark energy can be modelled similarly to primordial inflation, through a substance called quintessence. Quintessential inflation is the effort to economically treat dark energy and primordial inflation in a common theoretical framework. As such, quintessential inflation connects not only with primordial inflation data but also with imminent future dark energy observations (e.g. EUCLID), which can provide information on early Universe physics at very high energies, well beyond the reach of Earth based experiments. Moreover, quintessential inflation can exploit the famous scale mystery, whereby the scale of electroweak physics, which is explored in collider experiments such as the LHC, is roughly the geometric mean of the Planck energy scale, which is associated with gravity, and the dark energy scale. This implies that observations in the early and late Universe can be used to shed some light on particle physics phenomenology.

View Konstantinos's profile

* First-principles studies of two-dimensional materials (graphene, silicene, boron nitride, ...)

* Development and application of quantum Monte Carlo methods.

View Neil's profile

ATLAS Higgs to tau tau
X to HH to bbtautau
Silicon pixel detectors for the ATLAS upgrade project

View Harald's profile

Research projects are available in the field of solar-terrestrial physics, magnetospheric dynamics and magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling.

View Adrian's profile

Please contact me if you are interested in a PhD in low temperature physics. We offer a range of projects including: experiments on superfluid helium-3 at world-record low temperatures close to absolute zero; fabricating and cooling nano-electronic and nano-electro-mechanical devices for fundamental science and new quantum technologies; development of new cooling techniques to push the boundaries of the lowest achievable temperatures.

View Richard's profile

Two projects are available. (1) Universal memory combines the best of DRAM and Flash. Implemented as RAM, it would allow instantly on/off computers with unprecedented reductions in power consumption. We have demonstrated candidate univeral memory cells. The project will focus on shrinking memory cells to the nanoscale. (2) VCSELs were recently used for 3D sensing in smartphones. 'Eye-safe’ VCSELs that emit at >1400 nm are preferred, but, all production VCSELs, including those in smartphones, lase at >1000 nm. The project will develop >1400 nm VCSELs, based on our patented GaSb quantum ring technology.

View Manus's profile

Project Title: The next generation of Dark Energy measurements with supernovae In the late 1990s Type Ia supernovae were used as standard candles to discover that the rate of expansion of the universe is accelerating, leading to the idea that some mysterious "Dark Energy" is pushing the universe apart. Despite much better measurements nowadays, our lack of understanding of Dark Energy remains one of the most fundamental problems in Physics. Several new telescopes and surveys are being planned to address this issue. The student will use a combination of archival supernova data, new data from state-of-the art telescopes and simulated data to study statistical properties of supernovae as distance indicators. Based on these studies, he/she will help to optimise large surveys for cosmology that are planned with future telescopes and instruments, such as LSST (the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope), ESA's Euclid mission and 4MOST (the 4meter Multi-Object Spectrograph Telescope). This project will lead up to the start of operation of these exciting telescopes. Please contact Prof Isobel Hook for further information. This PhD project represents just one component of the research performed by the wider Astrophysics group at Lancaster University. Our PhD projects are offered on a competitive basis and are subject to availability of funding.

View Isobel's profile

Competitively funded projects are available in the areas of: 1) Single molecule properties on surfaces. 2) Directed assembly of 2D molecular structures. 3) Scanning probe microscopy in ultra-low noise environments. 4) Computational simulation of molecular properties. 5) Synchrotron radiation studies of surface structure. Please contact me if you are interested in working on a PhD project. We are always happy to hear from enthusiastic students. Funding, where available, will be awarded on a competitive basis.

View Samuel's profile

New physics signatures via CP violation, B-physics, lifetimes, mixing - with the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider. Searches for new long-lifetime particles such as proposed SUSY particles using techniques developed for B-physics. Storage, processing and analysis of very large datasets, with examples from particle physics (ATLAS) and possibly astrophysics (LSST)

View Roger William Lewis's profile

We are seeking PhD students to study quantum phenomena in superconducting and hybrid devices. Due to their unique properties, such devices allow the control at the level of single charge or flux quantum, single photon and single phonon, and are promising for applications in sensing, metrology and quantum information processing. Examples of research projects include, but are not limited to: 1. Charge pumping by nanoelectronic hybrid circuits 2. Detection of the quantum of mechanical motion by an artificial atom 3. Interaction of surface acoustic waves with a superconducting artificial atom 4. Probing quantum fluids with nanomechanical resonators The work is experimental and involves nanofabrication of superconducting and hybrid circuits in the Quantum Technology Centre's cleanroom and measurements at mK temperatures in a dilution refrigerator. We work in close collaboration with the ULT group. We also collaborate with theorists, both at Lancaster and abroad. You are expected to have a strong interest and preferably knowledge in some of the fields: - quantum physics, superconductivity and superfluidity, Josephson junction devices, Coulomb blockade, quantum optics and quantum information; - low-noise measurements and microwave engineering; - automation of the experiment, data acquisition using Python or MatLab; - cryogenic techniques.

View Sergey's profile

1) Subsurface nano-imaging via Ultrasonic/Heterodyne Force Microscopies
2) Quantum electromechanical systems (QEMS) based on 2D materials

View Oleg's profile

My students and I work on data analysis from the T2K long-baseline neutrino oscillation experiment, as well as calibrating the detector to ensure that data quality remains high. Future physics projects could include using the T2K Near Detector (ND280) to perform a neutrino interaction cross section on lead, or involvement in the ND280 data analyses that act as input to our measurements of the neutrino oscillation parameters and of possible CP violation (matter-antimatter asymmetry) in the lepton sector. There also is a possibility to work on the SNO+ experiment, where I've been working on understanding the backgrounds to the neutrinoless double-beta decay signal. If observed, neutrinoless double-beta decay would demonstrate that neutrinos, unlike any other matter particles, are their own antiparticles. See the Experimental Particle Physics Group page for a list of current PhD projects:

View Laura's profile

Most projects give opportunities for students to visit the polar Arctic for experimental field work, usually the EISCAT radar facility ( in Norway. Opportunities may also exist to visit other facilities as well as the South African National Space Agency near Cape Town (where I am the chief scientist).

Fundamental wave-plasma interactions (artificial auroras)
Long-term climate change (atmospheric density trend)
Auroral physics (e.g. black auroras)
Meso-scale dynamics (auroras and thermospheric winds)
Mesospheric physics (dusty plasmas, ozone destruction, sprites)
Ionospheric composition
Radiation belt remediation (VLF cyclotron resonance)

View Michael's profile

Various projects in mid-infrared photonics, narrow gap antimonide-based semiconductors and nanostructures

View Anthony's profile

Please contact me if you are interested in a PhD in quantum electronic devices. My group webpage has details of available projects.

View Edward's profile

Projects are available in all topics listed under 'Research Interests'.

View Colin's profile

There are projects available in the theory and modelling of the electronic properties of graphene - see research interests for more information about active research topics. Please feel free to contact me at the above email address for further details.

View Edward's profile

Physics of biological ion channels

View Peter's profile

Ph.D. Projects:

Phase transitions during inflation and hemispherical asymmetry.

Sub-Planckian inflation models with large tensor-to-scalar ratio.

The dark matter-baryon asymmetry connection.

View John's profile

I am always looking for enthusiastic candidates for PhD project. A couple of ideas for projects I am planning to run in the next few years are at:

View Jaroslaw's profile

I am always interested in discussing potential PhD projects with applicants. Please see our group webpage for the latest opportunities

View Helen's profile

We are seeking PhD students to study quantum phenomena in superconducting and hybrid devices. Due to their unique properties, such devices allow the control at the level of single charge or flux quantum, single photon and single phonon, and are promising for applications in sensing, metrology and quantum information processing. Examples of research projects include, but are not limited to: 1. Charge pumping by nanoelectronic hybrid circuits 2. Detection of the quantum of mechanical motion by an artificial atom 3. Interaction of surface acoustic waves with a superconducting artificial atom 4. Probing quantum fluids with nanomechanical resonators The work is experimental and involves nanofabrication of superconducting and hybrid circuits in the Quantum Technology Centre’s cleanroom and measurements at mK temperatures in a dilution refrigerator. We work in close collaboration with the ULT group. We also collaborate with theorists, both at Lancaster and abroad. You are expected to have a strong interest and preferably knowledge in some of the fields: - quantum physics, superconductivity and superfluidity, Josephson junction devices, Coulomb blockade, quantum optics and quantum information; - low-noise measurements and microwave engineering; - automation of the experiment, data acquisition using Python or MatLab; - cryogenic techniques; - nanofabrication.

View Yuri's profile

Ultralow temperatures in nanoelectronic devices The ability to cool materials to millikelvin temperatures has been the foundation of many breakthroughs in condensed matter physics and nanotechnology. At this frontier, quantum behaviour can be studied by making devices smaller and colder, increasing coherence across the system. The goal of this project is to apply a new technique – on-chip demagnetisation refrigeration – to reach temperatures below 1 millikelvin in nanoelectronic structures. This will open a new temperature range for nanoscale physics. As experiments are pushed into the sub-millikelvin regime, it becomes increasingly difficult to measure and define the temperature of a material or device. The thermal coupling between various sub-systems in can be extremely small; for example, the electrons in the metal wires contacting an on-chip structure can be at a different temperature to the electrons in the chip, the phonons in the chip, and the apparatus that you are using to cool it. This situation calls for a variety of thermometry techniques, each suited to measuring the temperature of a different physical system. The thermometers must also have extremely low heat dissipation and excellent isolation from the room temperature environment. This project will include the development of new and existing thermometry techniques that are suitable for sub-millikelvin temperatures. Devices will be produced in the Lancaster Quantum Technology Centre cleanroom, and by our collaborators. Experiments will be conducted using the cutting-edge facilities of the Ultralow Temperature Physics group at Lancaster. 2D materials in low temperature, isolated environments Graphene and other 2D materials can be used to build coherent electronic devices such as Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices (SQUIDs) and Quantum dots. These devices can be used as sensors with the ability to detect single quanta of charge and magnetic flux. In order to reach this limit, it is necessary to cool the devices into the millikelvin regime and to isolate them from unwanted external perturbations including varying magnetic fields, electric fields and mechanical vibration. In this project, the recently completed IsoLab facility at Lancaster will provide the “quiet” environment to study quantum devices made from 2D materials and to assess their performance as sensors. IsoLab is a new facility that provides three highly-isolated laboratories for testing the electrical, mechanical and optical properties of materials and devices. One of the three laboratories is equipped with a dilution refrigerator capable of cooling samples below 10 millikelvin. The refrigerator is housed in an electromagnetically shielded room and rests on a 50-tonne concrete block to provide vibration isolation. As well as studying new devices, this project will also include testing and development of the IsoLab environment. A student working on this project will learn how to design and fabricate nanoelectronic devices and study their electrical characteristics at low temperature. The student will join an ongoing collaboration between Lancaster and the National Graphene Institute in Manchester to study graphene/superconductor hybrid devices.

View Jonathan's profile

PhD projects are available in various aspects of modelling magnetosphere-ionosphere-thermosphere coupling and auroral physics at Jupiter, Saturn, and Earth.

View Licia's profile

I have a 3 year funded PhD position starting in October 2018 to investigate 'Nanostructured molecular materials on surfaces'. The studentship is jointly supervised by Dr Sam Jarvis ( and funded through the Leverhulme Doctoral Training Centre in Material Social Futures. For more information please contact The successful PhD candidate will demonstrate an excellent academic record in physics, materials science or a related area, they will explore new methods for the scalable fabrication of ultrathin organic films with tailored quantum interference properties and tuneable electrode interactions. Traditionally, organic layers are formed from solution phase deposition via techniques such as molecular self-assembly or Langmuir-Blodgett deposition. Here you will use newly established UHV capabilities in Physics to explore sublimation deposition, the direct transition from a solid to gas phase without passing through the intermediate liquid phase, of a range of tailored organic materials. Broadly the PhD project will: •Develop new capability to deposit and subsequently couple multiple layers of organic and inorganic materials onto the surface of a range of metal and 2D material substrates. This approach to multi-layer asymmetric chemical assembly is highly novel. •The nanoscale properties of these films will be characterised in-situ in IsoLab using a suite of custom scanning probe microscopy systems to access nanoscale mechanical, electrical and topographical information with sub-molecular resolution. •Understand the detailed physics and chemistry of these materials with advanced simulation methods performed on Lancaster’s High End Computing (HEC) facility. Carried out concurrently to experiments, simulation will be used to drive and inform ongoing experiments. Additionally, I have projects available in experimental aspects of molecular electronics, thermal and electrical transport in 2D materials and their heterostructures, novel growth methods for 3D molecular architectures, and design, fabrication and characterisation of ultra-thin-film thermoelectric materials. Projects are offered on a competitive basis and are subject to availability of funding. Please get in contact for further information or discuss potential projects that are not listed above.

View Benjamin's profile

PhD projects available in all listed research areas

View Janne's profile

PhD research projects available:

Topological states of matter
Topological states in photonic systems
Many-body localization
Quantum optics of mesoscopic light emitters

View Henning's profile

Galaxy growth and evolution over the last ~8 billion years
Disk galaxies with masses similar to that of the Milky Way are very common in the Universe, and they build up to their masses both by forming new stars in situ and by absorbing the stars from smaller satellite galaxies. Such “minor” (and even “micro”) mergers are likely responsible for a substantial amount of galaxy growth across the full population. The tidal streams from these interactions also remain coherent for billions of years and are extremely valuable as archaeological remnants of galactic formation processes. However, very little is understood about the effect of these minor interactions on galaxy evolution as a whole, because the unique properties of their tidal signatures present significant challenges to both observing them in real galaxies and modelling them with computer simulations.
With the latest generation of survey telescopes and high-resolution cosmological models, however, that is about to change. This project will therefore combine cutting-edge observational, theoretical and statistical approaches to understanding the growth of disk galaxies via mergers. A key aim is to develop a new analytical tool for quantitatively constraining the merger history of galaxies given their observed tidal features. This will involve hands-on work with large datasets as well as working with and writing code. This analysis package will be of significant interest to the astrophysical community, as will the project’s results applying that code to the latest data from current surveys such as the Dark Energy Survey and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope commissioning surveys, which will commence during the term of this project.
The student will join multiple established, productive communities, such as the Galaxy Zoo and Horizon-AGN projects. They will likely also have the opportunity to gain hands-on observing experience at world-class telescopes.
This fully funded project would suit someone with some experience of writing code (Python, Java etc) and, more importantly, with a strong interest in developing that skill for use in statistical analysis of large data sets.

View Brooke's profile

Towards the direct discovery of first generation stars in our backyard

This project will allow the student to take part in a recent hunt for the most metal poor stars up to the outskirts of the halo of our own Milky Way. Finding such extreme stars born in the early Universe but still shinning today allow us to unveil their nature. Most interestingly, very metal-poor stars allow us to become “stellar archeologists” and understand the properties of the very first generation of stars that gave rise to the traces of heavy elements that led to their creation. Potentially, we may be able to find first generation stars which may have survived until today. Finding and studying first-generation stars that may still be shinning in the halo of the Milky Way will be a major breakthrough in Astrophysics, not only to provide new tests and constraints to state-of-the-art models, but also because we will be able to study the generation of stars that literally invented chemistry and that is directly linked with our cosmic origins. The project will involve modelling of several observed and model stars to mimic observations and confront predictions with brand new data taken by us. Data have been taken using the INT telescope in La Palma and the CFHT telescope in Hawaii with narrow-band filters that capture a strong Calcium absorption feature in stars which becomes weaker for the most metal poor stars. Our Lancaster-led data-set is the deepest ever done with this filter in the ultra-violet, and allows us to see metal poor stars individually up to the outskirts of the halo of our Milky Way.

The physics of the first galaxies and their evolution in the epoch of re-ionisation

One of the most exciting open problems in Astrophysics is understanding the nature and evolution of the very first galaxies, stars and black holes, but also how they changed the Universe as a whole and ended the dark ages. This PhD project will allow the student to conduct and explore the largest surveys for very distant galaxies (Lyman-α emitters) and push them to the highest look back times when the Universe was only 700 Myrs or less. The student will reduce, analyse and explore near-infrared photometric data in the COSMOS field from the recently concluded (100%) Y-NBS survey (PI: Sobral) on the Very Large Telescope in Chile, which had an allocation of 50 hours in excellent observing conditions. The Y-NBS survey is the widest ever conducted for distant bright Lyman-α sources, even more distant than the CR7 galaxy (Sobral et al. 2015) and the student is expected to find up to 20 new bright distant galaxies, along with 1000s of other lower redshift starburst galaxies and AGN. The student will also explore our state-of-the-art datasets that have just been obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope, ALMA and with other instruments on the VLT in Chile, to place the newly discovered galaxies into a wider context and test state-of-the-art models. The second part of the project will involve obtaining and exploring follow-up observations, including spectroscopy at a variety of wavelengths with the GTC (on-going program) in La Palma, in order to investigate the physics of the first galaxies. This will involve a close link with photo-ionisation and radiative transfer models and will provide some of the first measurements of the metallicity, ionisation parameters and other properties of early galaxies. The results will provide crucial new information to improve our currently limited understanding of the re-ionisation epoch and how distant bright galaxies may have played a crucial role in such process.

View David's profile

Gas and galaxies at cosmic noon:
The majority of the stars in the Universe were formed in an active period 7 to 11 billion years ago, an epoch known as ‘cosmic noon’. The reasons for this enhancement in star formation and its subsequent decline to the present day are not fully understood and so this is a major area of galaxy evolution research. Galaxies are governed by competing physical processes: 1. the fuelling of star formation by gas accreted from the cosmic web and 2. the quenching of star formation by feedback from supernovae and supermassive black holes. Their environment also plays an important role with galaxies in dense clusters quenching at early times. This PhD project will use spectroscopy to study the conditions of the gas within galaxies and the gas that surrounds them (the circumgalactic medium) in order to understand the balance of star formation fuelling and feedback at cosmic noon. The quasar sightline technique will be employed, which utilises the intense light from distance accreting supermassive black holes to observe the circumgalactic medium around galaxies along the line-of-sight to Earth. The results of this project will be physically interpreted through comparison with the outputs from state-of-the-art cosmological simulations of galaxy formation. This PhD project represents just one component of the research performed by the wider Astrophysics group at Lancaster University. Our PhD projects are offered on a competitive basis and are subject to availability of funding.

View John's profile

Please contact me if you are interested in PhD in low temperature physics. PhD projects are available on experimental observations and computer simulations of quantum turbulence, probing of superfluid 3He and 4He using conventional and nano-electromechanical oscillators, cooling nano-electromechanical objects to low temperature.

View Viktor's profile

The formation and evolution of the most active star-forming galaxies in the Universe
Luminous submillimetre-selected galaxies (SMGs) and dusty star-forming galaxies are distant galaxies that are undergoing immense bursts of star formation, with typical star-formation rates of hundreds to thousands of times that of our Milky Way. These extreme systems provide challenging tests of galaxy formation and evolution theories and they seem to represent a key phase in the formation of the most massive local galaxies. However, despite ~20 years of study, they are still somewhat of a mystery -- even the physical process responsible for triggering the activity in SMGs is still a subject of intense debate. This fully-funded PhD project will use data from international facilities, including the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimetre Array (ALMA) and ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), to study the physical conditions in submillimetre galaxies. The results will be used to test theories of the formation and evolution of submillimetre galaxies, and probe whether they are caused by galaxy-galaxy mergers as some simulations suggest.

Please contact Dr Julie Wardlow for further information. This PhD project represents just one component of the research performed by the wider Astrophysics group at Lancaster University. For more general information about PhD study in Physics at Lancaster please contact our postgraduate admissions staff at You can also apply directly here stating the title of the project and the name of the supervisor.

View Julie's profile

The impact of space weather on UK railways. This is an exciting opportunity to explore how changes in the near-Earth space environment are linked to potentially damaging electrical currents induced in the UK rail network. It will use measurements of variations in the Earth’s geomagnetic field and rail-monitoring equipment installed through in collaboration with a major UK rail infrastructure stakeholder. Space weather describes the changing properties of near-Earth space, which influences the flow of electrical currents in this region, particularly within the Earth’s ionosphere and magnetosphere. Space weather results from solar magnetic activity, which waxes and wanes over the Sunspot cycle of 11 years, due to eruptions of electrically charged material from the Sun's outer atmosphere. Particularly severe space weather can affect ground-based, electrically conducting infrastructures such as power transmission systems, pipelines and railways. Ground based networks are at risk because rapidly changing electrical currents in space, driven by space weather, cause rapid geomagnetic field changes on the ground. These magnetic changes give rise to electric fields in the Earth that cause geomagnetically induced currents (GIC) to flow to or from the Earth, through conducting networks, instead of in the more resistive ground. Railway infrastructure, safety-critical systems, and operations can be affected by induced electrical currents during extreme space weather. Studies of railway operations outside the UK have shown that induced and/or stray currents from the ground during strong magnetic storms result in increased numbers of signalling anomalies in track currents. Meanwhile, induced direct current flowing in overhead line equipment have the potential to stop train movement. In this project, you will investigate the level of GIC in UK rail infrastructure for the first time by undertaking a comparison of naturally-occurring geomagnetic activity with rail GIC measurements. The outcomes of this project will increase our understanding of the vulnerability of critical infrastructure to the space weather hazard. Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as physics or geophysics. Informal enquiries can be directed to Prof Jim Wild (

View Jim's profile

We are seeking a PhD student for a project that combines cutting edge material science, quantum physics and information security, to drive a major evolution in physical security systems. Recently-discovered two-dimensional materials, with extraordinary physical properties extending well beyond those of graphene alone, will be the active component in the devices studied. They act as a near ideal interface between light and electronics, allowing information exchange between the two with unprecedented fidelity. The elegant access to quantum mechanics afforded by these devices will be applied to securing connections between the devices making up the Internet of Things, which are predicted to exceed 50 billion in just a few years. In this experimental project you will be trained to use state-of-the-art facilities in the Quantum Technology Centre at Lancaster to test develop quantum security devices using graphene-like materials incorporated into photonic devices. You will be taught to use nano-fabrication tools to prepare the devices for integration with embedded systems. Working with a GCHQ-backed centre of excellence in cyber security you will test the devices you create. The far-reaching goal of this project is for you to commercialise the technology through a spin-out company, Quantum Base, which focuses on quantum security systems. Please email me or see for more details.

View Robert's profile

My research focuses on semiconductor nanostructures and physics including MBE growth, semiconductor characterization and devices containing nanostructures

View Qiandong's profile

1. “The coldest liquid in the Universe” We will attempt to achieve the lowest temperature for any liquid. The project is concentrated around developing and demonstrating a new technique for cooling superfluid Helium-3. By utilising the nuclei of solid Helium-3 adsorbed on the surface of aerogel as a refrigerant in the adiabatic demagnetisation process, we will try and cool the superfluid to well below 100 microkelvins. Measuring such low temperatures is a formidable task. We will develop a method based on creation of a Bose-Einstein Condensate of magnons within the superfluid and on measuring its decay due to the very few thermal excitations remaining in the liquid. If successful, we will seek to apply the developed technique to cooling other systems, such as electrons in quantum devices, where lower temperature means longer coherence times.

By joining this project you will design, build and run experiments at the forefront of modern physics. You will become a part of the Lancaster Ultralow Temperature Group led by 6 research-active academics working at the frontiers of experimental Low Temperature Physics. The group is world leading in the field and has an excellent record of high-rank publications and of securing research funding at national and international level.

2. “Supercritical supercurrents in superfluid 3He” We will study a newly discovered phenomenon – existence of superfluidity at fluid velocities by far exceeding the critical value. We will work at the limit of what is technically possible in the field of low temperature physics, in the microkelvin region. At these temperatures, superfluid 3He is in deep quantum regime with only few normal excitations, which enables us to study its properties emerging far from its thermal equilibrium. One of them is an ability to extend the superfluidity region to velocities far beyond the Landau critical value. Being a topological superfluid, 3He supports fermionic surface excitations with Majorana-like spectrum. We will develop tools to study dynamics of these exotic quasiparticles and look into other possible far-from-equilibrium phenomena that can be enabled and probed with our extensive ultralow-temperature toolset.

By joining this project you will design, build and run experiments at the forefront of modern physics. You will become a part of the Lancaster Ultralow Temperature Group led by 6 research-active academics working at the frontiers of experimental Low Temperature Physics. The group is world leading in the field and has an excellent record of high-rank publications and of securing research funding at national and international level.

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PhD in Nanoscience

Access training by research in several niche areas of Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies excelled by the experimentalists in the Quantum Technology Centre and theorists in the Condensed Matter Theory group at Lancaster.

Experimental nanoscience projects

  • quantum technologies and development and studies of superconductor and semiconductor qubits and quantum circuits
  • quantum metrology
  • development quantum dot systems for quantum key distribution
  • studies of atomic two-dimensional materials including graphene, boron nitride, hexagonal metal chalcogenides and their heterostructures
  • development and applications of new scanning mechanical and thermal microscopy techniques
  • development of novel nanostructured materials for telecommunications and for energy applications

Using Lancaster’s world-leading expertise in cryogenics, we study nanostructures at the record-breaking low temperatures, in a sub-mK range.

Theoretical nanoscience projects

  • quantum transport and quantum Hall effect
  • mesoscopics and fundamentals of nanoelectronics
  • single-molecule electronics
  • quantum optics
  • quantum information processing

We develop theories of new atomic two-dimensional materials using the first principles density functional theory, quantum Monte Carlo modelling, and phenomenological theories. We develop theories of dynamics and kinetics in quantum systems in strongly non-equilibrium conditions using field theory methods. On the side of applied nanoscience, we model devices for electronics and optoelectronic applications.

Our doctoral students get access to the high-end research facilities in Physics: brand new nanofabrication facilities, MBE growth equipment, optical and electronic characterisation instruments, unique ultra-low temperature infrastructure and high-performance computational facilities. Many of our projects are run in collaboration with world-leading innovation companies including Bruker, Fiat, Oxford Instruments, etc. Research projects on two-dimensional materials are embedded into a wider scope of the European Graphene Flagship project and assume collaboration with numerous research groups in Europe. The programme is supported by a selection of taught courses providing skills in modern research techniques, special scientific training and transferable skills courses.