About the Role

NPL-Imperial College iCASE Studentship on Metrology of Single Electron Transistor Devices

A four-year funded PhD studentship is available at Imperial College London in collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), Teddington Middlesex. 

The successful candidate will join the Optical and Semiconductor Devices Group in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Imperial College London.  The student will be primarily located at Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, but must also spend at least three months at the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, Middlesex in the Dimensional Metrology Group working on metrology of quantum devices.

Summary of Project:

Single-electron transistors (SETs) controlling electrons precisely using the Coulomb blockade effect, provide a way to reduce electrical device size to <10 nm with many promising applications: highly scaled ultra-low power nanoelectronics, quantum computing, single molecule detection, metrological current standards, and charge sensors for atomic force microscope (AFM) length metrology. However, these applications require room-temperature (RT) operation and large-scale manufacturability. Currently large-scale manufacture remains a formidable problem, requiring ~1 nm scale size control and measurement to improve production yield. This also forms a broader problem for quantum electronic devices as their operation is typically strongly size dependent.

The project will develop (AFM) metrology of quantum-effect devices, based on RT SETs and silicon NW tunnel FETs as well as their application for dimensional metrology. Previous work at Imperial includes RT single-atom point-contact SETs, with P atom quantum dots and Schottky tunnel barrier Si nanowire field effect transistors. Accurate metrology of these devices is essential to understand and model electrical operation. We aim to correlate AFM data with size scales estimated from electrical characterisation, ‘closing the loop’ between independent structural and electrical characterisation, essential for large scale quantum device manufacture. Several AFMs will be used withing the project; a vacuum AFM at Imperial and AFMs with on board metrology at NPL. In both cases, there will be a component of AFM instrumentation development withing the project.


NPL is a world leading national metrology institute and Imperial College is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world in various rankings; for instance, it ranked 6th in the world in the QS World University Rankings for 2023. It has also been ranked as the most innovative university in Europe.

The project will provide a grounding in several industrially relevant areas including: nanometrology, nanoscale device fabrication, quantum device physics, measurement and modelling, dimensional nanometrology using AFMs leading to a sound basis for a career in nanoscience.

The student will benefit from additional training and support at the Imperial College and from the  Post Graduate Institute for Measurement Science at NPL. The Post Graduate Institute for Measurement Science (PGI), based at NPL is a pioneering initiative to equip the UK with an exceptionally skilled workforce ready to tackle real life industrial challenges.

Please click here to apply. Course code: Electrical Engineering Research – H6ZX. The application should also include a cover letter and your CV.

For informal enquiries, please contact Professor Zahid Durrani (Imperial College) [email protected] and Dr Andrew Yacoot (NPL) [email protected]

NB: In the application, the proposed research supervisor should be stated as Professor Zahid Durrani, to indicate that the application is for this post.

Full guidance on application process is available here. Any further queries regarding the application process should be directed to Miss Hashi Chowdhury  [email protected].


About You

Candidates must meet the ICL graduate entry requirements which include holding at least an upper second-class degree or equivalent qualifications in a relevant subject area such as physics or electrical engineering. A master’s degree in a relevant discipline and additional research experience or interest in semiconductor device instrumentation and fabrication would also be an advantage. Candidates must also have Home Student status. EU nationals who have Pre-Settled Status may be considered as home status if they have 3 years residency in the UK/EEA/Gibraltar/Switzerland immediately before the start of the course. Full details of UKRI eligibility criteria may be found at:



About Us

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is a world-leading centre of excellence that provides cutting-edge measurement science, engineering and technology to underpin prosperity and quality of life in the UK. 

NPL and BEIS have strong commitments to diversity and equality of opportunity, and welcome applications from candidates irrespective of their background, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, or age, providing they meet the required criteria. Applications from women, disabled and black, Asian and minority ethnic candidates in particular are encouraged. All disabled candidates (as defined by the Equality Act 2010) who satisfy the minimum criteria for the role will be guaranteed an interview under the Disability Confident Scheme. 

At NPL, we believe our success is a result of the diversity and talent of our people. We strive to nurture and respect individuals to ensure everyone feels valued by treating everyone on the basis of their own individual merits and abilities regardless of their own or perceived identity, as part of our commitment to diversity & inclusion, we hold memberships and accreditations to ensure we’re creating an environment where all our colleagues feel supported and welcome, please see our Diversity & Inclusion page.

We are committed to the health and well-being of our employees. Flexible working and social activities are embedded in our culture to create a positive work-life balance, along with a broad range of benefits. Our values are at the heart of what we do, and they shape the way we interact, develop our people and celebrate success. 

To ensure everyone has an equal chance, we’re always willing to make reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process. If you would like to discuss, please contact us.