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Exploiting Neutrons to Unveil Star-Formation: Exploring Dynamical Amorphous Ice Systems


About This PhD Project

Project Description

The Open University has been awarded one of 6 ISIS co-funded Facility Development and Utilisation PhD Studentships, in a highly competitive national process. The project, “Exploiting Neutrons to Unveil Star-Formation: Exploring Dynamical Amorphous Ice Systems” aims to understand the nanoscale physical properties and structure of molecular ices, and the impact of such properties on astrophysical-scale effects in star-forming regions.

Completed applications should be submitted to by noon 6 March 2020, including an application form - home and EU students (noting that a research project description is not required), an up-to-date CV, full course transcript, and a personal statement explaining why you are interested in this studentship and how your skills match the essential requirements, together with IELTS score (for non-UK nationals). Candidates will be informed around 12 March if they have been shortlisted, and interviews will be held on 31 March 2020 at the Open University in Milton Keynes.

Here is a link to the application form mentioned above: http://www.open.ac.uk/students/research/system/files/documents/Application form - uk-eu_0.docx

This studentship will combine condensed matter experimental techniques in neutron scattering, with molecular dynamics simulations, asking: “How is the structure and porosity of Amorphous Solid Water (ASW) impacted by the presence of adsorbates?
What impact will this behaviour have on the physics and chemistry of icy materials in star- and planet-forming environments?”.

The student programme is focused around three specific objectives:
(a) to study ASW ice-adsorbate systems with ISIS using NIMROD and SAN2D to test how adsorbates effect the ice structure and porosity, focusing on CH3OH and CO2.
(b) to design and develop a dedicated low-pressure / low-temperature experimental system for forming, manipulating and destroying multi-component condensed molecular systems, for studying astrophysical ice analogues + adsorbates with NIMROD and SANS2D and
(c) to couple large-scale molecular dynamics simulations of multi-component ice formation / evolution with measurable properties from neutron scattering studies, including material density, porosity, structure, clathrate formation and H-bonding.

Essential Requirements for PhD Candidates
1. Able to study full time for 3.5 years from 1st Oct 2020
2. Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) MPhys / MChem / MSci
3. Willingness to study across 2 centres, Open University (1st, 3rd & 4th Years) and ISIS (2nd Year)
4. EU or UK citizen (for fee purposes)
5. Previous experimental research project experience in physics or chemistry
6. IELTS pass at > 7.5 (if English is not your native language and your final Masters exams were not taught and examined in English).

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