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DPhil in Physical & Theoretical Chemistry focusing on Single Molecule Trapping and Measurements of Molecular Physical Properties

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, March 01, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Start Date: October 2019

Supervisor: Professor Madhavi Krishnan (research group website: )

Prof. Madhavi Krishnan's laboratory is looking for a talented and highly motivated doctoral student with a strong undergraduate background in physics, biophysics, or physical chemistry (a first or upper second class undergraduate degree with honours, or equivalent), to join them in taking forward an exciting emerging area of microscopy-based single molecule measurement. Biochemistry students with a flair for more physical approaches to problems are also encouraged to apply.

The group works in the broad area of soft condensed matter at the nanometre scale and has a specific interest in measuring and understanding electrostatics in molecular-scale matter, e.g., biological macromolecules. Using the repulsive electrostatic interaction in solution, the group recently demonstrated the ability to spatially trap single molecules in solution without the use of external forces (Nature, 2010; Nature Nanotechnology, 2012; Nature Nanotechnology, 2017). This "field-free" trap now enables measurements of the physical properties of macromolecules such as their electrical charge, size and 3D conformation with unprecedented precision, on several thousands of individual molecules at a time and in real time. The experimental approaches involved centre around optical imaging and spectroscopy and nanofabrication techniques. The work also relies on theory and simulation, specifically focusing on numerical mean-field electrostatics calculations and Brownian Dynamics simulations. Specific projects will focus on measuring the electrical charge of a molecule in solution and using this information to infer molecular 3D conformation, monitor ligand binding and intermolecular interactions. These measurements have direct implications for fundamental studies on biomolecules as well as for the development of ultrasensitive biomedical detection technologies.

This project will be funded by a Merton College Jackson Scholarship in the Natural Sciences. The Scholarship will cover all course fees for UK applicants and full living expenses for three years in the first instance.

Application deadline: 12.00 noon UK time on Friday, 1st March 2019

Candidates should submit a formal application for DPhil in Physical & Theoretical Chemistry (, quoting MK/MCJS/2019. Please select Merton ( as your preferred College.

Queries related to the application process should be directed to:

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