Group members

Group Photo

For a list of group publications please click here.

Academic staff


Associate Professor Ben Ruck

Research interests

Experimental condensed matter physics, with a particular focus on growing thin films of novel materials and determining their structural and electronic properties. This work involves collaboration with numerous students, postdocs, and academics at VUW and the MacDiarmid Institute, and at other institutions in New Zealand and around the world.

Contact:; Phone: 04 463 5089; Fax: 04 463 5237.

Ben's staff page can be found here. Ben is on Publons.

Em. Prof. Joe Trodahl

Joe Trodahl

Research interests

Joe's current research interests are, as ever, a colourful mix of different topics including studies of the rare-earth nitrides and Raman spectroscopy applied to a wide variety of materials. As with Ben, Joe's work involves collaboration with numerous students, postdocs, and academics at VUW and the MacDiarmid Institute, and at other institutions in New Zealand and around the world.

Contact:; Phone: 04 463 5964; Fax: 04 463 5237.

Joe's staff page, with a full list of awards, fellowships and research interests can be found here.

Dr Franck Natali

Research interests

Franck Natali Semiconductor material science, including ultra-high vacuum technology, epitaxial growth, structural, electrical and optical characterizations, to the fabrication of devices such as light emitting diodes and transistors. Currently interested in the growth of rare earth nitride thin films by molecular beam epitaxy and their characterisations toward the implementation of a number of prototype device structures for spintronic applications.


Lecturer in Physics and an Associate investigator in The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology. M.Sc. (2000) Electronic Engineering from the University of Bordeaux, France. PhD degree in physics from the University of Nice, France (2003). Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch 2 years as a research operator on MBE systems at Riber.

Contact:; Phone: 04 463 5964; Fax: 04 463 5237.

For a full profile, please view Franck's staff page.

Dr Simon Granville (Robinson Research Institute)

Simon is an experimental materials research physicist focused on thin film materials and nanostructures for spintronics and magnetic sensing, with particular expertise in magnetic and magnetotransport properties. His PhD work with Ben and Joe kick-started the rare-earth nitride research programme at VUW in 2004, and in 2011 he rejoined the group after a 4 year hiatus as a postdoc researching magnetic nanostructures at EPFL, Switzerland. He now also works on studying the physics of magnetic Heusler alloy thin films and thin film devices. Simon is a Principal Investigator of the MacDiarmid Institute.

Simon's staff page can be found here.

Distinguished Professor Bob Buckley (Robinson Research Institute)

Bob has been a key investigator in the synthesis and discovery for a range of high-temperature superconductor (HTS) materials since their discovery in 1987. He is a co-inventor of Bi-2223, a foundation compound for the manufacture of HTS wires, and he has led the transition from the materials discovery phase through HTS wire development and on to the development of HTS machines including magnets, transformer and MRI systems. Previous research of Bob's has involved a wide range of materials including amorphous semiconductors, zeolites, ionic conductors and sea ice. More recently his research activities have been extended to optical spectroscopy studies of Heusler alloys and correlated electron systems including the rare-earth nitrides. Bob was the inaugural Director of the Robinson Research Institute and he is also an Emeritus Investigator of the MacDiarmid Institute.

Bob's staff page can be found here.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr Eva Anton

Eva’s research focuses on thin films of the ferromagnetic semiconductors rare-earth nitrides, including epitaxial growth, exploring their fundamental magnetic and transport properties, as well as their application in spintronics devices. She is also interested in exploring the structure and properties of lead-free ferroelectrics, both in bulk and thin film form. Eva is an Associate Investigator of the MacDiarmid Institute.


Dr Jay Chan

Rare-earth nitride growth and properties.


Dr William Holmes-Hewett

Will's PhD research was focused on the transport properties and electronic structure of rare-earth nitrides. He is now working towards the fabrication of novel memory devices involving rare-earth nitrides.


Dr James McNulty

James' research interests include thin film growth and characterization with a focus on magnetic properties. Much of his research involves x-ray spectroscopy including XAS, XPS, and XMCD measurements which take place at international synchrotron facilities.


PhD students

Jackson Miller

Magnetic and transport properties of rare-earth nitride alloys.


Sam Devese


Ali Shaib


MSc students

Tane Butler

Rare-earth nitrides for spin injection in semiconducting devices


Max Ingle


BSc(Hons) students

Catherine Pot

Catherine has completed FTIR measurements on various rare-earth nitrides and been involved in fitting spectra with dielectric functions using the program RefFIT. Catherine has interest in fundamental properties of rare-earth nitrides and potential applications.



  • Dr James McNulty
  • Chang-Min Lee
  • Dr Harry Warring
  • Dr Natalie Plank
  • Dr Andrew Preston
  • Dr Jan Richter
  • Dr Bart Ludbrook
  • Dr Do Le Binh
  • Dr Muhammad Azeem
  • Dr Simon Granville
  • Dr Peter Murmu
  • Dr Benjamin Wylie-van Eerd
  • Dr Tanmay Maity
  • Dr Felicia Ullstad
  • Luis Figueras
  • Dr Denis Lefebvre
  • Kira Pitman
  • William Doonan
  • Dr Claire Meyer
  • Dr Annette Koo
  • Dr Uday Lanke
  • Dr Tony Bittar