Postdoctoral Research Associate in Magnetoelectrics From First Principles

Durham, United Kingdom
£33,797 - £34,804 per annum
14 Jan 2021
End of advertisement period
06 Feb 2021
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Physics

Grade 7: - £33,797 - £34,804 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 36 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 06-Feb-2021, 7:59:00 AM

The Department

The Department of Physics at Durham University is one of the leading UK Physics departments with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and employability of our students.

The Department is committed to advancing equality and we aim to ensure that our culture is inclusive, and that our systems support flexible and family-friendly working, as recognized by our Juno Champion and Athena SWAN Silver awards. We recognise and value the benefits of diversity throughout our staff and students.

The Role

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the design of novel magnetoelectrics from group theory and first principles, to work with Dr Nick Bristowe in the Department of Physics at Durham University.

The position is to commence in April 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter. It is a fixed-term post for 36 months.

Magnetoelectric multiferroic materials exhibit an intrinsic cross-coupling between their spontaneous spin and electrical polarisation. It has been widely recognised that this unique characteristic could lead to new or improved electronic devices but its microscopic origin is complex and theory-led design has been challenging. This project aims to provide a universal framework to describe the coupling mechanisms in order to predict new magnetoelectric multiferroic compounds. We will adopt a novel interdisciplinary approach involving group theoretical analyses and first principles calculations. The predictions will be scrutinised by experimental collaborators.

Informal enquiries are welcome and should please be directed to nicholas.bristowe@durham.ac.uk


  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator.
  • To be familiar with first principles calculations based on Density Functional Theory, in addition to group theoretical methods to study symmetry breaking and mode couplings.
  • To assist with the development of research objectives and measurements.
  • To work with the Principal Investigator and other colleagues in the research project, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio.
  • To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature to the team or group of people through presentations and discussions that leads to the presentation of research papers in conferences and publications.
  • To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
  • To publish high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and offering creative or innovative solutions.
  • To plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.
  • To deliver training in research techniques/approaches to peers, visitors and students as appropriate.
  • To be involved in student supervision, as appropriate, and assist with the assessment of the knowledge of students.
  • To contribute to fostering a collegial working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.
  • To engage in citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.
  • To engage in continuing professional development by participation in the undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes or by membership of departmental committees, etc. and by attending relevant training and development courses.   
  • To communicate and collaborate with experimental collaborators.

This post is fixed term for 36 months.

The post-holder is employed to work on research/a research project which will be led by another colleague. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

Successful applicants will ideally be in post by 1st April 2021. 

The Requirements



  • A good first degree in Physics or Chemistry or a related subject.
  • A PhD (or be close to submission) in Physics or Chemistry or a related subject.


  • Experience in conducting high quality academic research.
  • Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly-ranked journals.
  • Demonstrable ability to present research papers at [international] conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  • Demonstrable ability to collaborate with academic partners.
  • Experience in using group theoretical methods to describe symmetry breaking and mode couplings.
  • Experience in Density Functional Calculations.


  • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.
  • Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.



  • Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
  • A track record of presenting research at conferences, symposia, or meetings, commensurate with stage of career.
  • Demonstrable ability to develop research proposals and designs in collaboration with other academics.
  • Experience of overseeing students with respect to the development of their practical/research skills e.g. acting as a demonstrator; supervising student projects/practicals.
  • Experience in magnetoelectric multiferroic materials.


  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research. 

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Nick Bristowe, Nicholas.bristowe@durham.ac.uk.  All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence. 

We prefer to receive applications online via the Durham University Vacancies Site. https://www.dur.ac.uk/jobs/As part of the application process, you should provide details of 3 (preferably academic/research) referees and the details of your current line manager so that we may seek an employment reference.

Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in the University .

What to Submit

All applicants are asked to submit:

  • A CV and covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above;
  • List of Publications

Next Steps

The assessment for the post will include evaluation of the submitted documents and an interview. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment in February 2021.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.

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