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Characterising sequence-controlled polymers in real space: polymer genome through submolecular imaging

Centre for Materials Science

Wednesday, September 30, 2020 Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

A PhD student is needed for a project focused on developing an approach to the characterisation of sequence-controlled polymers (SCPs) by direct spatial investigation using high resolution scanning probe microscopy. While copolymers are well known and understood in the field of polymer science, the distribution of their building blocks along the macromolecular assembly is often uncontrolled and varies from chain to chain. This represents a frontier challenge in polymer science as the greater the control of molecular structure (including sequence) the more tightly the functional properties of the materials can be controlled. Furthermore, the ability to encode information by control of the sequence is of fundamental interest, as is demonstrated through naturally occurring polymers such as DNA, which encodes all hereditary information by the precise sequencing of four building blocks.
This project will be based on using scanning probe microscopy to identify monomer units in successively more complex structures: individual monomers, single-constituent oligomers, and finally multi-constituent oligomers and polymers. Once the molecular recognition framework has been established, sequences produced from these building blocks by known wet-lab methods will be deposited onto the surface, either by direct in-vacuum evaporation, or by ex-situ preparation techniques. The results from these experiments can be supported by a wide range of less “local” techniques such as mass spectrometry, photoelectron spectroscopy, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry. The outcome of this project will be a new approach to visualization of polymers at the monomer level.

The candidate will become a member of the brand new QUT Centre for Material Science. The centre provides a collaborative environment for curiosity-driven materials research and innovation focusing on outstanding research strengths in:
-soft matter materials
-hard condensed matter materials
-computation, prediction and modelling
-analytical technique development.

The Centre is fostering a supportive environment for PhD students and early career researchers, and aims to build a diverse and collegial group of researchers dedicated on pushing the barriers in material science.

Funding Notes

There is one competitive round of funding within the faculty each year, closing Sept 30, 2020. Through the Centre for Material Science, there are other funding opportunities throughout the year, so applicants are encouraged to contact the project supervisor of the Centre as early as possible to discuss options.

For more information on application processes and eligibility: View Website

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