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Endohedral Fullerene Molecular Switches

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Supervisor: Prof. Eleanor E.B. Campbell FRS, School of Chemistry University of Edinburgh
Co-Supervisors: Dr. Renald Schaub, School of Chemistry, University of St Andrews
Dr. Amy Khoo, Institute of High Performance Computing, A*STAR, Singapore

Applications are invited for a talented PhD candidate to join our team working towards the understanding and development of multi-position molecular switches based on individual endohedral fullerene molecules.

The project will involve a combination of experimental work and theoretical calculations to determine the conductance and switching mechanism within the endohedral molecules. The theoretical component of the project will be carried out under the supervision of Dr Amy Khoo at IHPC, A*STAR ( and will involve spending up to 18 months in Singapore.
The research is motivated by recent experimental studies in Edinburgh and St Andrews that have demonstrated a multi-way switch using [email protected] deposited on a Au substrate. The position of the Li inside the fullerene cage can be manipulated by applying a voltage from an STM tip in a novel mechanism that is thought to be connected to the excitation of diffuse Rydberg-like molecular orbitals [1]. As many as 14 different switch positions have been identified within a single molecule [2], far more than for conventional molecular switches. An increased understanding of the mechanism and further studies on the optimisation and control of the switching phenomenon in endohedral fullerenes could lead to the development of a highly promising nanoelectronic component.

A suitable candidate will possess, or expect to obtain, a first class or upper-second class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in chemical physics, chemistry, physics or materials science. A strong interest in theory, quantum mechanics and computation is essential as is a desire to work with advanced experimental techniques involving fs laser photoelectron spectroscopy, velocity map imaging and low temperature STM. Other essential attributes are good presentation and communication skills, both written and oral. In the first instance, informal enquiries (accompanied by a CV, cover letter and contact details of two referees) should be directed to Prof. Eleanor Campbell. For the formal application procedure see Eligibility: Primarily UK residents but outstanding EU candidates may be considered, for details see Starting date is January 2020. Applications will be considered until an excellent candidate has been identified.

The School of Chemistry holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to advance gender equality in higher education. The University is a member of the Race Equality Charter and is a Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champion, actively promoting LGBT equality. The University has a range of initiatives to support a family friendly working environment. See our University Initiatives website for further information (

Funding Notes

This is a 36 month fully funded studentship including UK/EU/EEA Fees of £4,327 plus an annual stipend of £15,009.


[1] M. Stefanou, H. J. Chandler, B. Mignolet, E. Williams, S. A. Nanoh, J. O. F. Thompson, F. Remacle, R. Schaub, E. E. B. Campbell, “Angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy and scanning tunnelling spectroscopy studies of the endohedral fullerene [email protected]”, Nanoscale 11 (2019) 2668-2678
[2] H.J. Chandler, M. Stefanou, E.E.B. Campbell, R. Schaub, ”[email protected] as a multi-state molecular switch”, submitted.

How good is research at University of Edinburgh in Chemistry?
(joint submission with University of St Andrews)

FTE Category A staff submitted: 43.30

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

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