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  Organometallic and Lanthanide Complexes for Upconversion Luminescence


   Friday, May 31, 2024  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

PhD Supervisor: Richard C. Knighton

Project Overview

The aim of the project is to work on state-of-the-art heteropolymetallic architectures (organometallic transition-metal and lanthanide complexes) in the area of two-photon molecular upconversion luminescence, for application as novel bioimaging probes.

Project Description

We are searching for a highly motivated individual who is interested in a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry with Dr. Richard Knighton at the University of Southampton, starting in October 2024.

Research into new in vivo medical imaging modalities is a paradigm of modern chemistry, aiding in early diagnoses, increase survival rates, and thereby improve quality of life. One of the most promising techniques is luminescent imaging. However, conventional methods suffer from limitations such as autofluorescence and poor tissue penetration of visible light. Upconversion (UC) – a two-photon anti-Stokes process - is a panacea for these shortcomings, allowing ultra-long-lifetime phosphorescence in the biological window.

The proposed project aims to utilise UC in molecular and supramolecular [d-f] heteropolynuclear assemblies,1,2 through the use of coordination and organometallic d-metal complexes (RuII, IrIII, PtII), in combination with azamacrocyclic lanthanide complexes (YbIII, NdIII). This will include multistep synthesis of the proposed targets, followed by rigorous photophysical characterisation by investigating fundamental energy-transfer processes via luminescence spectroscopy, with the aim of creating unprecedented in vivo imaging platforms based upon molecular UC.

The successful candidate will acquire proficiency in synthetic organic, organometallic chemistry, coordination chemistry, photoluminescence spectroscopy, and single-crystal X-ray crystallography. The researcher will have full access to a suite of techniques via state-of-the-art facilities including NMR spectroscopy, IR, HPLC and Mass-Spectrometry, in addition to world-leading X-ray diffraction facilities.

The candidate will also participate in group-meetings, school seminars and represent the group at national/international conferences. This will give them the opportunity to disseminate their research results with world-leaders in the area. The University of Southampton will give professional training and transferable skills through the PGR Development Hub which provides a suite of training courses and support services which promotes well-being and employability.

For further information about the project please contact:

  1. Knighton et al, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2022, 61, e202113114
  2. Knighton et al, J. Am. Chem. Soc.2022, 144, 29, 13356–13365

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: 31 May 2024. Applications will be considered in the order that they are received, the position will be considered filled when a suitable candidate has been identified.

Funding: Funding for tuition fees and a living stipend are available on a competitive basis. Funding will be awarded on a rolling basis, so apply early for the best opportunity to be considered.

How To Apply

Apply online, above. Select programme type (Research), 2024/25, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, next page select “PhD Chemistry (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor Richard C. Knighton

Applications should include:

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts/Certificates to date

For further information please contact: 

Chemistry (6) Physics (29)

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