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  Programming Colloidal Self-Assembly for Advanced Materials

   School of Chemistry

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

About the Project

A PhD place is available with Dr Dwaipayan Chakrabarti in the School of Chemistry at the University of Birmingham on a project themed on designing and developing colloidal advanced materials, using high-performance computing, underpinned by theories of statistical mechanics and wave propagation in periodic structures.

Colloidal crystals, especially porous or open colloidal crystals, provide an exciting platform for soft advanced materials with attractive photonic, phononic or mechanical properties. The self-assembly of designer colloidal particles can be programmed to yield a target crystal structure, which optimises and/or integrates the desired properties, because of the scope for tuning the interactions between colloidal particles, and hence offers scalable fabrication routes to these soft advanced materials. However, the design of a target structure for a colloidal crystal and programming colloidal self-assembly often prove challenging. This PhD project is focused on addressing these challenges, using computation and theory in connection with recent advances in colloid synthesis to push the boundaries of colloidal self-assembly for the development of soft advanced materials, especially for promoting sustainability. 

The Chakrabarti group has active collaborations with several groups from within and beyond the UK and hosts students from the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Topological Design at the University of Birmingham. Recent representative publications by the Chakrabarti group in the research area of colloidal self-assembly are as follows:

1.    W. Flavell, A. Neophytou, A. Demetriadou, T. Albrecht and D. Chakrabarti, Programmed Self-Assembly of Single Colloidal Gyroids for Chiral Photonic Crystals. Adv. Mater. 35, 2211197 (2023).

2.    A. Neophytou, D. Chakrabarti and F. Sciortino, Topological Nature of the Liquid-Liquid Phase Transition in Tetrahedral Liquids, Nat. Phys. 18, 1248 (2022).

3.    A. Neophytou, D. Chakrabarti and F. Sciortino, Facile Self-Assembly of Colloidal Diamond from Tetrahedral Patchy Particles via Ring Selection, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 118, e2109776118 (2021).

4.    A. Neophytou, V. N. Manoharan and D. Chakrabarti, Self-Assembly of Patchy Colloidal Rods into Photonic Crystals Robust to Stacking Faults, ACS Nano 15, 2668 (2021).

5.    A. B. Rao, J. Shaw, A. Neophytou, D. Morphew, F. Sciortino, R. L. Johnston and D. Chakrabarti, Leveraging Hierarchical Self-Assembly Pathways for Realizing Colloidal Photonic Crystals, ACS Nano 14, 5348 (2020).

6.    D. Morphew, J. Shaw, C. Avins and D. Chakrabarti, Programming Hierarchical Self-Assembly of Patchy Particles into Colloidal Crystals via Colloidal Molecules, ACS Nano 12, 2355 (2018).

Normally students should expect to have (or hold) a first-class honours degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry / Physics / Materials Science / Chemical Engineering or a related discipline, and relevant experience in computational and theoretical studies. Students expecting (or holding) a strong 2.1 (or equivalent) will also be considered. Programming experience is desirable, but not essential.

The University of Birmingham is strongly committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion. The School of Chemistry holds an Athena SWAN Bronze Award in recognition of its work in promoting women’s careers in STEM subjects in higher education, and is keen to welcome applicants from all backgrounds.

For further details on the project and informal enquiry please visit and contact Dr Dwaipayan Chakrabarti at .

Apply online for the PhD School of Chemistry programme at The applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Chemistry (6) Engineering (12) Materials Science (24) Physics (29)

Funding Notes

This PhD place may be funded, based on academic excellence. A fully funded scholarship is typically for 3.5 years full-time study and covers academic fees and a maintenance grant in line with the UK Research Innovation rate. The applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Chemistry?

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

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