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Designing assemblers for bottom-up formulations with tunable rheology (reference LRC 126)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr E García-Tuñón
    Prof Andy Cooper
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

It is currently very difficult to control interfaces between semiconductors in photocatalysis. In this project, we will introduce a new technology in this area — 3D printing — in combination with directed assembly to create structures with controlled architecture at multiple scale lengths (from nm to cm) and to optimise interfacial properties. The scope is to address the limited availability of flexible bottom-up assembly approaches for inorganic and organic materials in water based systems. We will advance the field by designing versatile assemblers that can facilitate the water processability of new organic materials for step-change photocatalysis. This will be a lab-based PhD that will start with the modification of known pH-responsive surfactants. The second stage will deal with the design of new molecules capable of functionalizing other soluble organic polymers and inorganic colloids to make them responsive, facilitating a change in their aggregation and rheology. The use of automated platforms in the Materials Innovation Factory will provide a library of component molecules, which will be tested using stand-alone and high-throughput rheology. The establishment of a workflow between the two (automated synthesis and rheology measurements), combined with design of experiments tools, will enable identifying final candidates.
The studentship will be based in the Materials Innovation Factory (MIF), supervised by Dr Esther García-Tuñón (80%, MIF lecturer affiliated to the School of Engineering) and co-supervised by Prof. A. I. Cooper (20%, Chemistry/MIF). The studentship will be jointly funded between the School of Engineering and the Leverhulme Research Centre for Functional Materials Design, a new £10 M, 10-year activity funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

Qualifications: A 2:1 or higher degree or equivalent in Chemistry with a strong interest in directed assembly, or alternatively a strong interest in organic materials with Chemical Engineering background. The candidate will be expected to have strong chemistry background.

The applicant will be part of two research groups in the University of Liverpool. Further information can be found here:

Please apply by completing the online postgraduate research application form here:
Please ensure you quote the following reference on your application: Designing assemblers for bottom-up formulations with tunable rheology (reference Tunon LRC 126)

Funding Notes

The award is primarily available to students resident in the UK/EU and will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years (£14,553 pa in 2017/18). Non-EU nationals are not eligible for this position and applications from non-EU candidates will not be considered unless you have your own funding.


García-Tuñon, E., Feilden, E., Zheng, H., DElia, E., Leong, A., & Saiz, E. Graphene Oxide: An All-in-One Processing Additive for 3D Printing. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 9 (38), pp 32977–32989 (2017)
Garcı́a-Tuñón, E., Barg, S., Franco, J., Bell, R., DElia, E., Maher, R. C., et al. Printing in three dimensions with graphene. Advanced Materials, 27(10), 1688–1693 (2015)
García-Tuñón, E., Barg, S., Bell, R., Weaver, J. V. M., Walter, C., Goyos-Ball, L., & Saiz, E. Designing smart particles for the assembly of complex macroscopic structures. Angewandte Chemie, 52, 7805–7808 (2013)
Sprick, R. S., Bonillo, B., Clowes, R., Guiglion, P. Nick J. Brownbill, Benjamin J. Slater, B. J., Blanc, F., Zwijnenburg, M. A., Adams, D. J., and
 Cooper A. I., Visible-Light-Driven Hydrogen Evolution Using Planarized Conjugated Polymer Photocatalysts. Angew. Chem. 128, 1824 –1828 (2016)

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