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Electron Transfer in Plexcitonic Systems

Department of Chemistry

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Prof J Weinstein No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Sheffield United Kingdom Chemical Physics Experimental Physics Inorganic Chemistry Nanotechnology Optical Physics Materials Science Physical Chemistry

About the Project

Four PhD Studentships to develop Molecular Photonic Breadboards

Do you enjoy exciting, cross-disciplinary and cutting-edge research? We invite applications for four PhD studentships, starting on 1 October 2021, as part of a £7.25 M collaborative project funded by EPSRC and led by Prof G. J. Leggett. You will be part of a team of scientists across the Universities of Sheffield, Bristol and Exeter with lead investigators in Chemistry (Prof S. P. Armes FRS, Prof J. Weinstein and Prof N. H. Williams (Sheffield)), Biology (Prof C. N. Hunter FRS (Sheffield) and Prof D. N. Woolfson (Bristol)), Physics (Dr J. Clark, (Sheffield) and Prof W. L. Barnes (Exeter)) and the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health (Prof D. W. Lambert).

The aim of our programme is to develop a new, modular approach for the creation of photonic materials, inspired by biological photosynthetic membranes. We call this approach 'molecular photonic breadboards': minimal units - synthetic antenna complexes - are designed from scratch to organise molecular components precisely in space. These building blocks are assembled to form nanostructured films. We will exploit the exciting new physics of strong light-matter coupling, in which excitons (molecular excited states) are hybridised with confined optical modes (localised surface plasmon resonances) to create new states (plexcitons) that combine the properties of light and matter.1,2 Our goal is to control energy transfer pathways from the nm to the cm scale, and is to lay the foundations for a revolution in the design of molecular photonic materials.

For more information on the science behind our programme visit

PhD 2: Electron Transfer in Plexcitonic Systems.

Lead Supervisor: Prof Julia Weinstein, Department of Chemistry.

The ability to control photo-processes by external perturbation could bring a new way to manipulate photonic materials. Coupling between electronic and vibrational degrees of freedom (vibronic coupling) on the ultrafast timescale is the key factor in the photophysics of molecular excited states. However, manipulation of the coupled states is difficult! In this project, you will use strong light-matter coupling to plasmon modes to affect and potentially control vibronic coupling, and hence the outcome of light-driven reactions. This work builds on our previous development of the IR-control approach to manipulate excited state reactions.[3] A particular focus of your project will be on electron and energy transfer pathways in molecules and materials, that might be important in applications including photocatalysis and solar energy capture.

Candidates: A masters degree in chemistry, physics or related discipline (at or above 2.1 UK classification or equivalent). All training will be provided, although some experience in working with lasers is desirable. Passion for photochemistry is essential.

All studentships will be supervised collaboratively by two members of the team. For further information, please contact the following lead supervisor ([Email Address Removed]).

Applications should be made via the online portal:

Postgraduate Online Application Form (

Funding Notes

EPSRC Funded project for 3.5 years
• Research Council Stipend (estimated £15,600 per year)
• Tuition Fees at the UK fee rate (£4,473 per year)
• Research support and training grant (RTSG)


1. Tsargorodska, A.; Cartron, M. L.; Vasilev, C.; Kodali, G.; Mass, O. A.; Baumberg, J. J.; Dutton, P. L.; Hunter, C. N.; Törmä, P.; Leggett, G. J. Nano Lett. 2016, 16, 6850−6856.
2. Lishchuk, A.; Kodali, G.; Mancini, J. A.; Broadbent, M.; Darroch, B.; Mass, O. A.; Nabok, A.; Dutton, P. L.; Hunter, C. N.; Törmä, P.; Leggett, G. J. Nanoscale 2018, 10, 13064-13073.
3. Delor, M.; Scattergood, P. A.; Sazanovich, I. V.; Parker, A. W.; Greetham, G. M.; Meijer, A. J. H. M.; Towrie, M.; Weinstein, J. A. Science 2014, 346, 1492-1495.
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