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Understanding Spontaneous Dipole Alignment in Molecular Solids

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  • Full or part time
    Prof MRS McCoustra
    Prof D G Bucknall
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

Spontaneous dipole alignment in molecular solids is a novel, energetically unfavourable, phenomenon observed in ultrathin molecular films at cryogenic temperatures which gives rise to intense electric fields, exceeding 10^8 V m-1, percolating the films. The fields are observed directly by electrostatic potential measurements and indirectly by electric field induced frequency changes (i.e. vibrational Stark shifts) in the IR spectra of the films. The growth of these fields is both non-local and non-linear and remains poorly understood. We will extend our experimental studies to investigate new dipolar molecules characterising their electric fields as previously while undertaking structural studies by X-ray and neutron scattering methods. In parallel, we will develop molecular dynamics simulations of the deposition process in experimentally characterised systems (CO and N2O) using realistic intermolecular and interfacial potentials in an attempt to understand the origins of these fields during the film growth process. External collaborations with Field (Aarhus, Denmark), Moriarty (Nottingham, UK) and Nyman (Gothenburg, Sweden) are likely.

See our group website: http://www.astrochemistry.hw.ac.uk/

You should have, or expect to receive, a First class or 2:1 MChem degree in Chemistry, or equivalent in a relevant related subject.

The Institute of Chemical Sciences (ICS) is an excellent environment for PhD research, with a thriving community of academics, post-doctoral and PhD researchers. ICS has many links to the other research institutes within the overall umbrella of the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, providing a strong interdisciplinary theme to our research. Heriot-Watt occupies an attractive campus site on the outskirts of Edinburgh, with excellent public transport links to the centre of one of the Europe’s most exciting cities.

Funding Notes

EPSRC funded studentship: 3.5 years, tuition and stipend at the EPSRC standard rate (currently £14,296 p.a.). Please note that only UK or EU citizens who have Settled Status and have been resident in the UK for the last 3 years are eligible.

How good is research at Heriot-Watt University in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 30.00

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

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