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

Department of Chemistry

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Dr J N Moore , Prof S Duckett No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This PhD project will explore the latest generation of organic photoinitiators used in UV inkjet printing and beyond, involving spectroscopic studies of excited states and other short-lived intermediates to understand the underlying reactivity. The focus will be on gaining fundamental new knowledge and understanding that may ultimately be used in the development of new molecular designs and industrial formulations.
The project will provide training in cutting-edge research in physical chemistry featuring advanced spectroscopy, excited states & photochemistry, lasers, kinetics and computational chemistry. Applicants with a degree in chemistry and a strong background and interests in these areas are encouraged to apply.
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.
The project is co-sponsored by Cambridge-based Domino UK Ltd, and the direct link to research & development in a leading UK company will provide opportunities to acquire a wider perspective, along with additional knowledge, skills and experience that may open up a range of career opportunities in academic and industrial sectors.
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. The project will provide an opportunity to see how product development and academic research meet at the interface of commercialisation, and thereby to gain insight into the industrial world.

The project is supervised by two experienced academics who have graduated over 50 PhD students between them, and it will be supported closely by specialised technical staff who will be available to aid experimental and computational developments as they arise. The student will join a vibrant group of researchers whose work harnesses photochemistry and ranges from exploring the fundamental properties of matter to using the magnetic properties of materials to design contrast agents for medical applications.

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%).

It is expected that this PhD will formally start on 1 October 2020 with induction activities starting on 28 September. However, there may be flexibility for a later start date.

Funding Notes

This studentship is fully funded for 3 years by Domino ( and a Department of Chemistry Teaching Studentship and covers: (i) a tax-free annual stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£15,285 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:

You should submit a separate application for funding:


Candidate selection process:
• Applicants should submit a PhD application to the University of York by 15 September 2020
• Applicants should submit a Teaching Studentship Application by 15 September 2020:
• Supervisors may contact candidates either by email, telephone or web-chat
• Supervisors can nominate up to 2 candidates to be interviewed for the project
• Nominated candidates will be invited to a panel interview
• The awarding committee will award studentships following the panel interviews
• Candidates will be notified of the outcome of the panel’s decision by email
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