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New Horizons in Quasicrystals

Project Description

This PhD project deals with the atomic scale characterization of growth of thin films on surfaces of quasicrystals using surface science techniques such as Scanning Tunnelling Microscopy (STM), Low Energy Electron Diffraction (LEED), and X-ray Photoemission Spectroscopy (XPS).

Quasicrystals possess aperiodic long-range order and often associated with crystallographically forbidden rotational symmetries such as 5-fold and 10-fold. However, we have recently reported the first physical realisation of quasicrystalline structure with 4-fold rotational symmetry [1]. This was observed when C60 molecules are adsorbed on the selective atomic sites of the Al-Pd-Mn quasicrystal forming a Fibonacci Square Grid. The current project aims to explore the possibility of growing such simple quasicrystalline structured in wider range of materials with multiple scales. Particularly, the candidate will search for the structures that are useful for both fundamental studies and potential applications, especially in the field of magnetism and electron transport. Such investigations include, for example, the growth of functionalised molecules on quasicrystal surfaces to create magnetic arrays of quasicrystalline structures with 4-fold symmetry or the deposition of plasmonic materials in Fibonacci patterns to form arrays of nanostructures; these have potential to alter and enhance electron transport properties important in device applications.

The candidate should have, or expect to have, at least a 2:1 degree or equivalent in Physics or Chemistry or Material Engineering. The candidate will work under the supervision of Prof Ronan McGrath and Dr Hem Raj Sharma. The experimental work will be carried out in the Department of Physics of the University of Liverpool. However, the candidate will be provided the opportunity to perform experiments in the laboratories of our overseas collaborators including member institutes of the European Integrated Centre for the Development of New Metallic Alloys and Compounds (C-MAC) and/or at large scale facilities such as ESRF or Diamond. The successful candidate is expected to commence work from October 2019.

Funding Notes

Applicants should be resident in the UK or the EU. The award will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years (currently £14,777 p.a.)


[1] S. Coates, J. A. Smerdon, R. McGrath and H. R. Sharma, A molecular overlayer with the Fibonacci square grid structure, Nature Communications 9, 3435 (2018)

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