Organic crystals made by nanoconfinement: from synthesis to applications

   Department of Chemistry

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  Prof C Casiraghi  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The topic of confinement of molecules, atoms and ions into a nano-space is attracting a lot of attention as molecules behave in a different way when spatially constrained. This applies not only to chemical reactions, but also to the process of crystallization, which has been a subject of speculation for over a century. Indeed, we still do not fully understand how do molecules get together when forming a crystal or when they get close to an interface. In this project we aim at forcing molecules to stay in close contact with an interface while they do crystallize, by using a method based on nano-confinement, developed in our group. We will look at different types of molecules, with specific attention to amino acids with the final aim to make organic crystals with well-defined structure, hence providing specific properties, such as piezoelectricity. This is an inherent property of majority of biomaterials, making possible to use them as nanogenerators (i.e. devices able to operate autonomously, without any external interference or power supply) and sensors for commercial and defence purposes.

The student will be involved with the development and optimization of the nano-confinement setup, will perform deposition of the molecules and related crystals characterization with various techniques, such as Raman spectroscopy and Atomic Force Microscopy. Based on the structure of the crystals obtained, piezoelectricity and other properties will be studied with the final am to exploit the crystals obtained in devices, such as sensors.

Admissions requirements

Applicants should have or expect to achieve at least a 2.1 honours degree in Chemistry, Material Science, Physics, Chemical Engineering or related subjects.

Proposed start date


Before you apply 

We strongly recommend that you contact the lead supervisor for this project before you apply. 

How to apply 

To be considered for this project you’ll need to complete a formal application through our online application portal

When applying, you’ll need to specify the full name of this project, the name of your supervisor, details of your previous study, and names and contact details of two referees

Your application will not be processed without all of the required documents submitted at the time of application, and we cannot accept responsibility for late or missed deadlines. Incomplete applications will not be considered.  

If you have any questions about making an application, please contact our admissions team by emailing [Email Address Removed]

Equality, diversity and inclusion 

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester and is at the heart of all of our activities. We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact.

We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status. 

We also support applications from those returning from a career break or other roles. We consider offering flexible study arrangements (including part-time: 50%, 60% or 80%, depending on the project/funder). 

Chemistry (6) Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

3.5 year PhD funded by Chemistry Department EPSRC DTG. Standard UKRI stipend of £17,668 (22/23 rate) UK home fees only.

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