Understanding the electronic properties of self-assembled materials by a combination of theory and experiment

   Department of Chemistry

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  Dr M.A Zwijnenburg  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

A fully funded PhD studentship is available to work under the co-supervision of Dr. Martijn Zwijnenburg and Dr. Rob Palgrave on understanding the electronic properties of self-assembled materials by a combination of theory and experiment.

Perylene bisimides (PBIs) and related molecules, such as naphthalene bisimides, form a fascinating class of compounds. When functionalised with suitable substituents solutions of them can form gels or be dried down to amorphous thin films. The resulting self-assembled materials can act as photoconductors, with very long charge carrier lifetimes, even in the presence of air, as hydrogen evolution photocatalysts, and battery electrolytes, as well as materials that structural respond to electrochemical reduction or illumination. All these properties arise from the interplay between their propensity to self-assemble and their rich redox and photochemistry.

Despite their interesting properties and practical relevance, the electronic properties of the self-assembled materials are not very well understood. The idea is for this studentship to fill this niche by both predicting the electronic properties using theoretical methods (Zwijnenburg group) and to probe them experimentally (Palgrave group). Specifically the student will use density functional and Green’s function based calculations to predict the electronic properties of the materials and x-ray and/or ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS/UPS) to measure them experimentally. By exploring a series of materials, we plan to use our calculations and spectroscopy experiments to extract structure-property relationships. The Adams and Draper groups at the University of Glasgow, with whom we have a long-standing collaboration in this area, will provide samples of different PBI materials for the XPS/UPS experiments.

Please visit our group websites for more details about our research: https://www.zwijnenburg-group.org/ and http://robertpalgrave.co.uk.

The successful applicant should have or expect to achieve a Masters-level degree (1st or 2:1) in a relevant subject, e.g. Chemistry, Physics, Chemical Engineering, Natural Science or Materials Science, and an interest in working at the interface between theoretical and experimental materials chemistry. The successful applicant will demonstrate strong interest and self-motivation in the subject, good experimental practice and the ability to think analytically and creatively. Good computer skills as well as presentation and writing skills in English are required. Previous experience in computational chemistry and/or photoelectron spectroscopy is desirable.
To apply in first instance, please email a motivation letter, an up-to-date CV and contact details for 2 referees to Dr. Martijn Zwijnenburg ([Email Address Removed]) and Dr. Rob Palgrave ([Email Address Removed]) who may also be approached for informal enquires. Ideal starting date September 2019. The application deadline is the 15 of February 2019 but the position will be closed as soon as a suitable applicant has been selected.

Suitable candidates will be required to complete an electronic application form at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/apply. Any admissions queries should be directed to Dr Jadranka Butorac ([Email Address Removed]).

Funding Notes

Due to funding restrictions, this studentship is only open to applicants from the UK and EU who have been resident in the UK for at least 3 years preceding their start on the programme.