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Strain Tuning Phonon Topology in Flexible Organic Crystals

   School of Chemistry

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  Dr Adam Michalchuk, Dr Yueting Sun  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Single crystals are essential components of many functional materials. Unfortunately, single crystals are typically brittle, making technologies fragile and limiting their potential for wearable or moldable devices, or in sensing applications. The paradigm of brittle single crystals has been recently challenged with the discovery of mechanically flexible single crystals, which bend without compromising the crystallinity. These fascinating solids have the potential to radically transform the material design landscape, with exciting promise in next-generation nano-electronic and nano-optical devices, for innovations in sensing and display technologies, and in energy harvesting and conversion.

Mechanically flexible crystals open an exciting opportunity to design new functional materials but their application requires a detailed understanding of how bending affects material properties. Of particular importance is to identify how bending affects the vibrational behaviour of the material, because these vibrations play a fundamental role in nearly all functional properties, including thermal and electronic conductivity. By studying how the uniaxial strain of bending affects material vibrations, using both simulation and experiment, this project will develop strategies to identify, predict, and design new flexible crystals suitable for next-generation technologies. The candidate will receive training in a broad range of disciplines spanning computational modelling of materials and material mechanics, and will have the opportunity to work at synchrotron and neutron facilities in the UK and abroad.

We invite applications from candidates from chemistry, materials science, or physics, with interest in X-ray crystallography, computational chemistry, high-pressure chemistry, or other related areas.

Applicants should have a good degree (equivalent to a UK 1st or 2:1) in a relevant subject. Applicants interested in applying should email Dr Adam Michalchuk ([Email Address Removed]) with a CV as soon as possible.

The University of Birmingham was founded in 1900 on an anti-discrimination ethos accepting men and women on an equal basis. Today, as a community of over 150 nationalities in one of the UK’s most vibrant cities, we remain committed to promoting equality, diversity and fairness irrespective of age, disability, gender, pregnancy or marital status, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Funding Notes

Studentship is available to UK and overseas applicants on a competitive basis from our CDT Topological Design or alternative funding schemes, covering tuition fees and stipend.


1. X Liu, AAL Michalchuk, B Bhattacharya, F Emmerling, and CR Pulham (2021) Nature Commun. 12, 3871
2. B Bhattacharya, AAL Michalchuk, D Silbernagl, M Rautenberg, T Schmid, T Feiler, K Reimann, A Ghalgaoui, H Sturm, B Paulus, and F Emmerling (2020) Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 59, 5557
3. J Ravi, T Feiler, A Mondal, AAL Michalchuk, CM Reddy, B Bhattacharya, F Emmerling, and R Chandrasekar (2022) Adv. Optical Mater. 2201518

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