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A 3-year PhD studentship in electronic and mechanical response at 2D buried interfaces

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, July 20, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This position is fully funded by the UCL-A*STAR Collaborative Programme via the Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecular Modelling and Materials Science (M3S CDT) at UCL. The student will be registered for a PhD at UCL where he/she will spend year 1 and the first six months of year 4. The second and third years of the PhD will be spent at the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore. The Studentship will cover tuition fees at UK/EU rate plus a maintenance stipend about £17000 (tax free) pro rata in years 1 and 4. During years 2 and 3, the student will receive a full stipend directly from A*STAR. In addition, A*STAR will provide the student with one-off relocation allowance.

The physical contact between two surfaces is critical for many applications, such as the integrity of electrical connection, the sliding and adhesion of surfaces, the formation of charge barriers for electronic devices, and surface roughness effects in heat transfer and electrical transport. The aim of the PhD project is to investigate the contact between free standing 2D layers placed on a substrate at the atomic-to-nanoscale using scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) in ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) conditions, and relate the measurements to macroscopic effects. We will focus on two types of 2D layers, namely bi-layer SiO2 and hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN). The contact area and number of asperities touching at the plate-substrate interface will change as we apply pressure with the AFM/STM tip. These mechanical changes will also modify the current flow. From such data we can model the change in contact from the nanometre scale to the mesoscale.

Please contact Prof Thornton () or Dr O Shea () for further details or to express an interest.

Applications will be accepted until 20 July 2020 but the position will be filled as soon as an appropriate candidate is found.

Funding Notes

The successful applicant should have or expect to achieve at least a 2.1 honours or equivalent for undergraduate degree in Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science. The successful applicant will demonstrate strong interest and self-motivation in the subject, good experimental practice and the ability to think analytically and creatively. Good computer skills, plus good presentation and writing skills in English, are required. Previous research experience in contributing to a collaborative interdisciplinary research environment is highly desirable but not necessary as training will be provided.


Due to funding restrictions, only UK/EU citizens are eligible for this studentship.

How good is research at University College London in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 62.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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