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Nanochemistry - Functional ‘Smart’ Nanoparticles and their Sensing Applications - PhD Funded

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, February 17, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Owing to their small size (normally in the range of 1 – 100 nm), nanoparticles exhibit unique physico-chemical properties, which are different from those of bulk materials, and that can be used to construct novel and improved sensing devices; in particular, optical sensors and biosensors. Only recently, nanoparticle based optical sensors have been developed that are now capable of detecting even single small molecules and their reactions (1). The application of nanoparticle-based sensors in single-molecule biosensing opens up a range of interesting fundamental studies and applications. For example, the next generation of bioanalytical devices will be based on ‘smart’ nanoparticles to analyse biological and environmental samples at the single molecule level. For more information visit

Your project:
You will develop nanoparticle chemistries to tailor the capabilities of ‘smart’ single-molecule sensor devices. You will develop synthetic strategies to control nanoparticle size, shape and composition. You will develop surface chemistries to modify the nanoparticle surface. You will then apply the nanoparticles as sensors to explore catalysis, surface chemistry, electrochemistry and biochemistry, all at the single-molecule level. Your nanoparticles will provide you with an ‘eye’ into the nanoworld to explore the nanochemistry of various molecules. You will study various reactions and their mechanisms which all have high relevance in Nature and technology. At the single-molecule level, you will study reaction mechanisms which have been hidden from analysis, such as the disulphide exchange reaction. Disulfide exchange reaction controls the redox potential in cells and it is also the basis for molecular devices, such as molecular walkers and molecular machines.You will also develop applications based on your nanosensors. An example for this are portable health and environmental monitors and smart dust sensors. You will work as part of a larger team in Prof Vollmer’s group which is composed of chemists, engineers, physicists and biologists.

What we are looking for: An enthusiastic chemist with background in inorganic and organic chemistry. Successful candidates ideally have some experience with one of the following colloidal chemistry, nanoparticles synthesis, surface chemistry, electrochemistry or physical chemistry.


Funding Notes

The University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in April 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,009 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. The student would be based in the Living Systems Institute in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the Streatham Campus, Exeter.
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