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PhD in Chemistry – Laser control over crystal nucleation

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, April 01, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

A 3.5-year EPSRC-funded PhD studentship is offered in the Chemical Photonics group of Prof. Klaas Wynne at the University of Glasgow ( to investigate laser control over crystal nucleation. The research is funded by a five-year European Research Council (ERC) project Laser Control over Crystal Nucleation (CONTROL), which aims to develop a novel platform for the manipulation of phase transitions, crystal nucleation, and polymorph control based on optical tweezing and plasmonic tweezing.

Although crystals are crucially important to medicine, biology, and the chemical industry, we currently lack the ability to control nucleation or the crystal form (polymorph) that is produced. By systematically characterising and manipulating solutions, we will be able to use optical tweezing to effectively control the crystallisation of small molecules, peptides, proteins, and polymers. Exploiting nanostructures and plasmonics will allow parallelisation on a vast scale and fine control over the polymorphs produced. Even partial success in the five years of the programme will lead to fundamental new insights and technological breakthroughs. These breakthroughs will be exploited for future commercial applications towards the end of the project. The work will be carried out under the guidance of (currently) two postdoctoral researchers with expertise in microscopy, tweezing, and nucleation.

Applicants should have a good degree in a relevant science discipline (e.g., physical chemistry, physics, materials science), be highly motivated and have excellent English communication skills. Research experience, laboratory skills, and demonstrated ability to work independently will be considered an advantage. The position is available to UK and EU residents from October 2020 onwards.

Selected References:

1. F. Walton, J. Bolling, A. Farrell, J. MacEwen, C. Syme, M. González Jiménez, H. Senn, C. Wilson, G. Cinque, and K. Wynne, ‘Polyamorphism mirrors polymorphism in the liquid–liquid transition of a molecular liquid’, submitted (2020) (
2. F. Walton, K. Wynne, ‘Using optical tweezing to control phase separation and nucleation near a liquid–liquid critical point’, Soft Mater 15, 8279-8289 (2019). (
3. F. Walton, K. Wynne, “Control over phase separation and nucleation using a laser-tweezing potential”, Nature Chemistry 10, 506-510 (2018) (
4. C.D. Syme, J. Mosses, M. González Jiménez, Finlay Walton, and K. Wynne, “Frustration of crystallisation by a liquid–crystal phase”, Sci. Rep. 7, 42439 (2017). (
5. J. Mosses, C.D. Syme, and K. Wynne, ‘The order parameter of liquid-liquid phase transitions’, J. Phys. Chem. Lett., 6, 38-43 (2015). (
6. J. Mosses, D.A. Turton, L. Lue, J. Sefcik, and K. Wynne, ‘Crystal templating through liquid–liquid phase separation’, Chem. Commun. 51, 1139-1142 (2015). (

It is the University of Glasgow’s mission to foster an inclusive climate, which ensures equality in our working, learning, research and teaching environment.

We strongly endorse the principles of Athena SWAN, including a supportive and flexible working environment, with commitment from all levels of the organisation in promoting gender equality.

As an Athena SWAN Bronze Award holder, the School of Chemistry has equality, diversity and inclusion at its heart, and actively supports applications from all sections of society.

More details of the School’s Athena SWAN activities can be found here:

How to Apply: Please refer to the following website for details on how to apply:

Funding Notes

Funding is available to cover tuition fees for UK/EU applicants for 3.5 years, as well as paying a stipend at the Research Council rate (estimated £15,245 for Session 2020-21).

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