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How do non-crystalline environments affect high-temperature single-molecule magnetism?

   Department of Chemistry

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  Dr M Baker, Dr N Chilton  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Single-molecule magnets (SMMs) show magnetic memory on the nanoscale and therefore are promising candidates for ultra-high-density information storage. We have pioneered approaches in maximising the magnetic remanence of Dy SMMs, including the discovery that by control of the coordination environment of a Dy ion, magnetisation can be retained to 60 K. Whilst efforts to increase the performance of SMMs continue, to fully exploit their molecular-scale the structural and magnetic robustness of these materials must be explored in non-crystalline environments. It is known that the magnetic properties of high-performance SMMs crucially depend on their structure, however there have been no studies that measure the changes that occur when they are extracted from their native crystalline state and deposited on surfaces, in amorphous phases or as dopants within diamagnetic host lattices.

This project coincides with the upgrade of the X-ray emission spectrometer at I20-Scanning providing new opportunities to study Dy SMMs at lower concentrations, such as on surfaces and as dopants, with resonant inelastic X-ray scattering. Complementary magnetic measurements will be performed at I10-BLADE using X-ray magnetic circular dichroism.  

It is expected that the use of Diamond Light Source beamlines I20-Scanning and I10-BLADE to measure the magnetic properties and local geometric structure of SMMs in non-crystalline arrays, will provide important insight into how ultra-high-density magnetic data storage should be constructed at the nanoscale.

The successful candidate will be co-affiliated with Diamond Light Source (supervised by Dr Shusaku Hayama and Dr Peter Bencock) and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Manchester (supervised by Dr Michael Baker and Dr Nicholas Chilton). The project will start with X-ray spectroscopy measurements of Dy SMMs as single crystals and as dopants within host crystals before moving on to molecules on surfaces. Measurements will be backed up by theory. The successful candidate will: (i) learn how to conduct X-ray absorption, resonant inelastic X-ray scattering and X-ray magnetic circular dichroism, (ii) learn atomic multiplet theory to interpret X-ray spectra, (iii) learn complete active space self-consistent field spin-orbit (CASSCF-SO) methods to simulate X-ray spectra, and (iv) identify how non-crystalline environments affect high-temperature single-molecule magnetism.

Academic background of candidates 

Applicants should have or expect a good 2(i) honours degree (or an equivalent degree) in chemistry, physics or a related discipline. Some prior experience in X-ray spectroscopy and scientific programming (MATLAB, python etc) would be beneficial. Experience of computational chemistry would be advantageous, although training will be provided. You should be capable of working under your own initiative and working within a research team, so excellent communication and organisational skills are required.

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).

All appointments are made on merit.

Contact for Further information

Potential candidates are strongly encouraged to contact Dr Michael Baker.

[Email Address Removed]

Further information about how to apply can be found at:

How to apply - Department of Chemistry - The University of Manchester

Funding Notes

This is a 4 Year funded PhD studentship, covering fees and stipend (£ 17,920 in year one, 2022-23). Additional funding will be available for travel between Manchester and Diamond, and conference attendance.
Start date September 2022


Huzan et. al., Chem. Sci., 2020, 11, 11801.
Goodwin et. al., Nature, 2017, 548, 439.
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