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PhD studentship in materials/interface science: development and improvement of functional ultrathin organic films and of surface analytical techniques

   School of Chemistry

  Dr G Haehner  Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Research in the Haehner group encompasses both fundamental studies and the engineering of specific surface/interface properties. One part of our research program is the development and improvement of surface analytical techniques, which are capable of analyzing interfaces in situ, i.e., in the ‘natural environment’ of the system under investigation and without destroying them. This is often a liquid in the case of ‘biological’ systems, for example when studying properties of proteins [1], and exploring the role of the fluid in interfacial processes, the determination of fluid properties on the (sub)micron scale and the characterization of microcantilever sensors is an important aspect of our research [2-4]. Another part of our research program is the tailoring of interfacial properties by utilizing specifically synthesized (functionalized) molecules (in collaboration with organic chemists). Such molecules allow the preparation of concentrated planes of functionality on inorganic substrates. We are working towards creating functional surfaces on SiOx substrates as for example relevant for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) [5-9]. Many of our experimental projects are supported by computational modelling.

The student will learn aspects of surface/interface science, materials science, chemical physics/physical chemistry and surface analytical characterization techniques. The project will involve a wide range of techniques including scanning probe microscopy, photoelectron spectroscopy, ellipsometry and contact angle measurements as well as some modelling.

Funding Notes

Students interested in undertaking a PhD in this research area should register their interest as soon as possible. Informal enquiries can be made to Dr Georg Haehner ()

Please see: View Website for the application procedure or e-mail for more information regarding PhD opportunities at St Andrews. We encourage applications for the EaSiCAT Centre for Doctoral training (View Website) and from Chinese nationals through the St Andrews CSC Scheme (View Website). There are opportunities for self-funded PhD students to make use of the St Andrews Handsel Scheme to fund the difference between home and international fees.


[1] E. Makou, R. G. Bailey, H. Johnston, J. D. Parkin, A. N. Hulme, G. Hähner,
and Paul N. Barlow
“Combining SPR with atomic-force microscopy enables single-molecule insights into activation and suppression of the complement cascade“
J. Biol. Chem. 294, 20148-20163 (2019)

[2] J. D. Parkin and G. Hähner
“Determination of the spring constants of the higher flexural modes of microcantilever sensors“
Nanotechnology 24, 065704 (2013).

[3] J. D. Parkin and G. Hähner
"Calibration of the torsional and lateral spring constants of cantilever sensors"
Nanotechnology 25(22), 225701 (2014)

[4] J. D. Parkin and G. Hähner
“Contact-free experimental determination of the static flexural spring constant of cantilever sensors using a microfluidic force tool”
Beilstein J. Nanotechnol. 7, 492–500 (2016)

[5] M. Adamkiewicz, T. O’Hara, D. O’Hagan, and G. Hähner
“A vapor phase deposition of self-assembled monolayers: Vinyl-terminated films of volatile silanes on silicon oxide substrates“
Thin Solid Films 520, 6719-6723 (2012).

[6] M. Adamkiewicz, D. O’Hagan, and G. Hähner
"Bis-(trifluoromethyl)methylene Addition to Vinyl-terminated SAMs: A Gas Phase C-C Bond Forming Reaction on a Surface"
Langmuir 30(19), 5422–5428 (2014)

[7] M. Adamkiewicz, D. O’Hagan, and G. Hähner
"Organic chemistry on surfaces: Direct cyclopropanation by dihalocarbene addition to vinyl terminated self-assembled monolayers (SAMs)"
Beilstein J. Org. Chem. 10, 2897–2902 (2014)

[8] R. Chisholm, J. D. Parkin, A. D. Smith, and G.Hähner
“Isothiourea-Mediated Organocatalytic Michael Addition-Lactonization on a Surface: Modification of SAMs on Silicon Oxide Substrates”
Langmuir 32(13), 3130-3138 (2016)

[9] J. D. Parkin, R. Chisholm, A. B. Frost, R. G. Bailey, A. D. Smith, and G. Hähner
“Direct organocatalytic enantioselective functionalization of SiOx surfaces“
Angew. Chem. 57, 9377-9381 (2018)

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