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DTA - Effect of grain boundaries on the properties of perovskites.

   Department of Materials

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  Dr Simon Hunt  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Grain-boundaries are an almost ubiquitous but relatively poorly understood feature of crystalline materials. Grain boundary properties and behaviour control some aspects of the bulk physical properties. For example, increasing pressure significantly slows grain boundary diffusion and reduces, then eliminates the grain-boundary contribution to electrical conductivity (e.g. Li et al., 2012. 10.1209/0295-5075/98/66006).

The project will study the effects of synthesis conditions, chemistry etc. on grain boundary properties in a range of perovskites and related structures. Perovskites, writ large, are common structure-type of great interest in academia, industry and Earth Sciences. Named after the naturally occurring mineral perovskite (CaTiO3) they are found in solar-cells, industrial sensors and planetary interiors. The most abundant mineral in the Earth is bridgmanite, a (Mg,Fe)(Si,Al)O3 perovskite that is stable in the Earth between 660km depth and the core-mantle boundary. The abundance of bridgmanite means that it exerts control on the long-term evolution of the planet. Occurring with bridgmanite is another perovskite, Ca(Ti,Si)O3.

 The change in grain-boundary properties with pressure has potential implications for the viscosity of the Earth’s deep interior and therefore on mantle convection. They also have direct consequences in the design and manufacture of functional materials.

You will design and implment the experimental programme, which will be complemented by thorough review of the literature. Initial experiments will be conducted using 1 atmosphere high temperature apparatus. Depending on the background and your interests the project will progress to higher pressure studies and/or a wider range of materials. As appropriate to the experimental programme we also hope to offer the opportunity to travel to Large Scale facilities (e.g. NSLS-II, ESRF). Alongside the experimental and data modelling work, you will use a range of investigative techniques, including scanning electron microscope (SEM) and electron microprobe analysis (EPMA), to understand the crystallographic and material processes that occur in their experimental samples.

We are looking for a motivated student with a strong background in Earth Sciences, Materials Science or related physical science discipline (MSc, MSci or BSc) to join our research group. Some knowledge or previous experience in any of the following would be helpful – SEM, EPMA, coding, data manipulation or experimental petrology – but this is not a prerequisite, since you will receive training in all the relevant experimental and analytical methods. You will be encouraged to attend national and international conferences to share your research. 

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact. We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status.

 We also support applications from those returning from a career break or other roles. We consider offering flexible study arrangements (including part-time: 50%, 60% or 80%, depending on the project/funder). 

Academic background of candidates

MSci, Msc or Bsc (or equivalent) in Geology, Earth sciences, materials science, Chemisty, Engineering or a related subject.

To apply please follow the link below:


Funding Notes

This is a 3.5 year EPSRC DTA studentship. Funding will cover UK tuition fee and stipend only. The University of Manchester aims to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK. We are able to offer a limited number of scholarships that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.
Start date: September 2022
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