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Electron Microscopy and Tomography of Ion Irradiation Effects on Nano-Structures

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  • Full or part time
    Prof S Donnelly
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

This project aims to study the modifications that occur when nanostructures (such as spheres, rods and wires) are irradiated with energetic ions. The project will involve extensive use of the unique MIAMI* facility in which ion accelerators are coupled to a transmission electron microscope. For students with interests in the physics / chemistry of materials this would be a fundamental study.

For students with an interest in engineering design there is the possibility of focusing on the development of a unique specimen holder for tomography experiments to complement existing equipment.

Recently, research has been carried out in the Ion Beam Centre, using transmission electron microscopy (TEM); into the modifications that occur due to damage induced by energetic ions in different types of nanostructure: gold nanorods (of interest for the fundamental physics) [1]; nanodiamonds (of interest to space science) [2]; silicon and germanium nanowires (of interest to microprocessor development) [3]; and tungsten nanospheres (of interest in the context of structural materials for nuclear reactors) [4].

This PhD project can take different directions depending on the interests of the student:

For students with interests in physics, chemistry or materials, the project will focus on understanding the processes that take place when energetic ions impact on nano-materials by means of a detailed study using TEM coupled with electron tomography to obtain 3-D images of the nanostructures as they evolve during irradiation.

For students with an interest in engineering design, the project would focus on the development of a new design of tomography holder to enable a specimen to be rotated through a full 360° in the electron microscope. This would then be used to conduct novel experiments involving ion irradiation of nanostructures to test the capabilities of the new holder.

For students interested in the “nanoengineering” of materials, the project would involve choosing a suitable system in which the electronic, magnetic, optical, mechanical or catalytic properties could be modified by ion irradiation with a view to improving those properties.

The University of Huddersfield is home to the Microscopes and Ion Accelerators for Materials Investigations (MIAMI) facility which is a world-leading centre of excellence in the field of TEM with in-situ ion irradiation with extensive links to international laboratories across Europe, the United States, South America and Japan.

The project would offer the possibility of collaboration with scientists from around the world and the possibility of visits / internships in laboratories overseas as well as travel to national and international conferences

* Microscopes and Ion Accelerators for Materials Investigations

Funding Notes

Candidates should have a Bachelor’s degree (or above) in physics, materials science or similar discipline. Ideally (but not necessary) the candidate will be familiar with some of the following:
• Electron microscopy (TEM in particular)
• Radiation damage in solids
• Engineering/design

This PhD position is EPSRC funded and is only available to UK permanent residents. Stipend of £15,245 per annum incrementing each year.

Funds are also available for travel to national and international conferences/workshops to present work and meet other researchers from around the world.


[1] Enhanced sputtering yields from single-ion impacts on gold nanorods Greaves, G, et al. Physical Review Letters. 111, 6, 065504
[2] Ion implantation in nanodiamonds: size effect and energy dependence Shiryaev, A. A. et al. Scientific Reports. 8, 9 p., 5099.
[3] Ion-beam-induced bending of semiconductor nanowires Hanif, I. et al. Nanotechnology 29, 33, 12 p., 335701.
[4] Enhanced Radiation Tolerance of Tungsten Nanoparticles to He Ion Irradiation Aradi,E et al. Nanomaterials. 2018 8(12) 1052.

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