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Investigating the physics and chemistry at play in space related ice surfaces

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, February 21, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Applications are invited for a full PhD Studentship starting in 2020 to undertake research in the interdisciplinary area of Laboratory Astrochemistry. All interested candidates with background in Engineering, Physics, Chemistry and Astronomy are encouraged to apply. The studentship will include applied research within the Antennas & Electromagnetic Research Group at Queen Mary University of London and field work at leading European research facilities such as the free-electron laser FELIX Laboratory in the Netherlands (, the synchrotron ISA-ASTRID2 at the Centre for Storage Ring facility in Denmark ( and the ion accelerator ATOMKI at the Institute of Nuclear Research in Hungary (, where ultra-high vacuum end-stations dedicated to the study of interstellar and Solar System ice analogues are developed and led by Dr. Ioppolo and collaborators.

This PhD will investigate the physics and chemistry at play in space related ice surfaces by applying innovative laboratory techniques such as selective IR/THz radiation spectroscopy at FELIX to study the nature of IR/THz modes in solids as well as dynamics and energy relaxation in ices; VUV-UV-Vis spectroscopy in support of space missions, e.g. JUICE -, at ASTRID2; 1 – 5 keV electron exposure of ices in laboratories and 200 keV – 1 MeV ion bombardment of ices at ATOMKI to induce molecular synthesis in astrochemical ices. The project will ultimately help answering questions such as: is there a limit to molecular complexity in the Universe? What physics and chemistry drive molecule formation in space? Is there a link between simple species formed in space and life on Earth? Field work at large facilities will be supported by the EPSRC FLUENCE grant (, CALIPSOplus (, Laserlab Europe (, and Europlanet Research Infrastructure (

The student will be based in the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science ( at Queen Mary University of London, and will be a member of the Antennas & Electromagnetic Research Group ( Informal enquiries can be made by email to Dr Sergio Ioppolo ().

This studentship is available to UK and EU students. It is fully funded by QMUL for three and a half years, it will cover student fees and a tax-free stipend starting at £17,009 per annum.

To apply, please follow the online process by selecting ‘Electronic Engineering’ in the ‘A-Z list of research opportunities’ and following the instructions on the right-hand side of the web page.

Please note we request a ‘Statement of Research Interests’. Your statement should answer three questions: (i) Why are you interested in the topic? (ii) What relevant experience do you have? and (iii) a research proposal. Your statement should be brief: no more than 750 words or one side of A4 paper. In addition we would also like you to send a sample of your written work. This might be a chapter of your final year dissertation, or a published conference or journal paper. More details can be found at:

The closing date for the applications is Friday 21st February 2020. Interviews are expected to take place the week commencing 2nd March 2020.

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