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Molecular Imaging of Conjugated Polymers

   School of Chemistry

   Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

A funded PhD studentship is available in the group of Prof. Giovanni Costantini at the University of Birmingham to work in the field of molecular imaging of conjugated polymers. The successful candidate will have access to a unique scanning tunnelling microscopy and electrospray deposition (STM-ESD) equipment to investigate novel n-type conjugated polymers (CP) used for thermoelectric, optoelectronic and bioelectronics applications. In particular, s/he will analyse the sequence and conformation of these polymers with sub-nm resolution in order to deliver a molecular-scale benchmark for the design principles employed in their synthesis. Moreover, s/he will study the interaction of molecular dopants with the n-type D-A CPs with the aim to establish the exact location, conformation, and type of interaction between dopants and host polymers. This information is vital for understanding the effect of doping on the charge transport of these materials but cannot be determined by any other current technique at the molecular scale.

Organic π-conjugated polymers are attractive materials combining tuneable chemical structures, low-cost production and easy methods of device fabrication and have emerged as a material of choice in (opto)electronics, photovoltaics, lighting, displays, sensors, thermoelectrics and bioelectronics. Their electronic properties are intimately controlled at their most fundamental level by their microstructure but this is, however, very difficult to determine by means of traditional analytical techniques. The Costantini group has recently demonstrated that the STM-ESD technique can be used to deposit intact conjugated polymers in ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) and to acquire sub-molecular resolved images, revealing their composition and structure at a level that is impossible with any other present analytical technique (e.g. Sci. Adv., 2018, 4, eaas9543; Adv. Mater., 2020, 32, 2000063; J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2021, 143, 11007).

Funding for this position is open to UK/EU and international applications and the 3.5 years studentship will commence in October 2022.

The successful candidate will work as part of a collaborative international research programme. Depending on the interests of the successful candidate, there will be scope for brief visit and exchanges with collaborators at KAUST, Peking University, University of Southern Mississippi and University of Heidelberg.

Previous hands-on experience in scanning probe microscopy and/or surface science is advantageous but not necessary. Enquiries and informal applications should include a C.V. and be addressed as soon as possible to Prof. Giovanni Costantini ().

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