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Development and Applications of X-ray Birefringence Imaging

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  • Full or part time
    Prof K Harris
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This PhD research project will advance the new technique of X-ray Birefringence Imaging, first reported in 2014 (Science, 2014, 344, 1013-1016) and resulting from the on-going research collaboration between the research group of Kenneth Harris at Cardiff University and scientists at Diamond Light Source (primarily Stephen Collins). The proposed research is focused on advancing fundamental aspects, developing improved experimental methodology and exploring wide-ranging applications of the X-ray Birefringence Imaging technique.

The PhD student will carry out the research project both in the School of Chemistry at Cardiff University and at Diamond Light Source. As the research will be carried out at both Cardiff University and at Diamond Light Source, the studentship includes funding for travel and subsistence to allow working at both sites.

The aim of the research project is to advance the new technique of X-ray Birefringence Imaging, which was first reported in 2014 (Science, 2014, 344, 1013–1016). The proposed research will advance fundamental aspects, develop improved experimental methodology and explore wide-ranging applications of the X-ray Birefringence Imaging technique.

The major goal of the project is to extend the scope of X-ray Birefringence Imaging by applying it to a diverse range of materials and a broad range of structural phenomena, including: (i) characterization of molecular orientational distributions in liquid crystalline materials, (ii) studies of domain structures in ferroelectric materials, (iii) establishing orientational properties of molecules at interfaces, (iv) studies of alignment of molecules in fluid phases in response to the application of applied fields, and (v) studies of the propagation of domain boundaries associated with phases transitions in solids (exploiting the time-resolved capability of X-ray Birefringence Imaging).

Another important direction of the project will be to establish the theoretical basis for computing the X-ray optic axis of a molecule, relevant to a specific X-ray absorption edge. Computational protocols will be developed to allow the relevant properties to be calculated for any molecule of interest. Development of the required methodology is an essential prerequisite before X-ray Birefringence Imaging can be generalized to the study of any type of material in the future.

In summary, the project aims to establish X-ray Birefringence Imaging as a mainstream technique for probing molecular orientational distributions in anisotropic materials, enabling the technique to be widely used by scientists in many different fields in the future.

For more information about Professor Kenneth Harris

For more information about Professor Stephen Collins

Academic criteria: Applicants for a studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a 2.1 degree or higher in a relevant subject, such as Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science or a related subject. Preference will be given to candidates with an M.Chem. or M.Phys. degree, or equivalent.

Start date: 1 April 2016

Funding Notes

This studentship consists of full UK/EU tuition fees, as well as a Doctoral Stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum (£14,057 p.a. for 2015/16, updated each year).

Funded by EPSRC (DTA) and Diamond Light Source.

Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals and EU students who satisfy UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least 3 years prior to start of the course, including for full-time education. EU Nationals who do not meet this requirement may be eligible for a fees only award.


Please apply via Cardiff University's Online Application Service.
Please specify the reference number R2638 in your application.

In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided.
In the funding section, please select "I will be applying for a scholarship / grant" and specify that you are applying for advertised funding from EPSRC (DTA Funds) and Diamond Light Source.

The deadline for applications is 4 March 2016

Cardiff University reserves the right to close applications early should sufficient applications be received.

Related Subjects

How good is research at Cardiff University in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 23.00

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

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