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Photochemical Pathways of Photoinitiators: a Study for Inkjet Applications and Beyond

Project Description

This PhD project will explore the mode of action of the latest generation of organic photoinitiators used in industrial UV inkjet printing and beyond. It will involve the use of cutting-edge spectroscopic studies of excited states and other short-lived intermediates to understand the underlying reactivity and its relation to other species present in formulations employed by industry.

The project is co-sponsored by Cambridge-based Domino UK Ltd.

UV inkjet printing involves the rapid deposition of ink droplets onto a surface and their rapid solidification through photo-curing induced by a UV-absorbing photoinitiator. This versatile technology is used widely in labelling and packaging applications (automotive, pharmaceutical, food, home and personal care products, etc.) and there are also links to the growing 3-D printing market. Collectively, there is a need to increase the speed of printing which is currently limited by the speed of polymerisation, and also by the need to minimise the population of unbound species which could potentially migrate out of the cured film.

This project will provide an opportunity to receive training in cutting-edge research in physical chemistry featuring advanced spectroscopy, excited states & photochemistry, lasers, kinetics and computational chemistry. The direct link to research & development in a leading UK company will provide opportunities to acquire additional knowledge and skills, along with a wider perspective. Some of the studies will involve commercial instruments and software, whereas others may see new approaches developed to aid the experimental, analytical and computational work. Applicants with a degree in chemistry and a strong background and interests in these areas are encouraged to apply.

The project will be based at York, where the focus will be on spectroscopic studies across a range of time scales, from ultrafast probing of excited states to steady-state analyses of products, and including the use of pulsed lasers along with UV-vis absorption, emission, infrared or NMR spectroscopy. The experimental work will be complemented by detailed analysis and modelling by computational chemistry.

Domino will provide general training on market relevance, ink formulation and cure evaluation, via visits to Cambridge that will also be used to test practical outcomes for formulation and UV curing performance arising from knowledge developed in the fundamental studies at York.


The student will receive training on photochemistry and a variety of time-resolved, steady-state and computational techniques at York. Training on market relevance, UV ink formulation, and cure evaluation techniques will be provided by Domino.

All Chemistry research students have access to our innovative Doctoral Training in Chemistry (iDTC): cohort-based training to support the development of scientific, transferable and employability skills:

The Department of Chemistry holds an Athena SWAN Gold Award and is committed to supporting equality and diversity for all staff and students. The Department strives to provide a working environment which allows all staff and students to contribute fully, to flourish, and to excel: This PhD project is available to study full-time or part-time (50%).

This PhD will formally start on 1 October 2020. Induction activities will start on 28 September.

Funding Notes

This studentship is fully funded for 3 years by Domino (View Website) and a Department of Chemistry Teaching Studentship and covers: (i) a tax-free annual stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£15,009 estimated for 2020 entry), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. Funding is available to any student who is eligible to pay tuition fees at the home rate: View Website

You should submit a separate application for funding: View Website


Candidate selection process:
• Applicants should submit a PhD application to the University of York by 29 February 2020
• Applicants should submit a Teaching Studentship Application by 29 February 2020:
• Supervisors may contact candidates either by email, telephone, web-chat or in person
• Supervisors can nominate up to 2 candidates to be interviewed for the project
• Nominated candidates will be invited to a panel interview at the University of York
• The awarding committee will award studentships following the panel interviews
• Candidates will be notified of the outcome of the panel’s decision by email

How good is research at University of York in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 47.06

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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