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Making Sense of Disorder in Molecular Organic Solids

Department of Chemistry

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Dr P Hodgkinson No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

The conventional picture of crystal structures involves regular repeating arrays of atoms in fixed positions. In practice, many crystalline systems exhibit some degree of “disorder”, often due to molecular motions. Such disorder disrupts Bragg diffraction, and so conventional crystallography tries hard to reduce these effects, e.g. by acquiring data at low temperatures. On the other hand, “functional” materials with interesting properties, such as ferroelectricity, or well-defined motions (e.g. “molecular gyroscopes”) necessarily involve movement and change.

NMR is the ideal complementary analytical tool for understanding such phenomena. The focus of the overall project (funded by the Leverhulme Trust) is to use NMR techniques, coupled with computational methods, to understand disorder in molecular organic solids. Exploiting known materials from the Cambridge Structural Database and new materials being developed by collaborators, we will exploit leading facilities and expertise around the UK to expand the range of systems that NMR techniques can address.

This PhD studentship will suit an enthusiastic and resourceful student looking for a project that combines cutting-edge computational chemistry and solid-state NMR. The PhD student will be primarily involved with experimental solid-state NMR, under the supervision of Dr Paul Hodgkinson, but will also be directly involved with setting up and analysing molecular dynamics simulations under the guidance of Prof. Mark Wilson (co-supervisor) and an associated postdoctoral researcher. This will provide a strong support team.

Candidates should hold or expect to hold a 1st (or strong 2.1) class (or equivalent) in Physics, Chemistry, or a related subject area. Applicants should be comfortable with computing, as well as hands-on experimentation, and be enthusiastic problem solvers. These skills are, however, highly transferable, and the novel, interdisciplinary nature of the project will provide an excellent starting point for a research career in a developing area.

The PhD is funded (fees + maintenance) for 39 months. Note that the fees are funded for UK/EU students, and so this position is not suited to non-EU applicants. The preferred start date is 1 Oct 2018, but this can be flexible for the right applicant.
Durham Chemistry is a centre of expertise in both computational chemistry and solid-state NMR (3 dedicated solid-state NMR spectrometers and 2 research groups). For further information see our web pages: Informal enquiries are encouraged and should be directed to Dr Paul Hodgkinson ([Email Address Removed]).
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