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Current PhD vacancies are listed below. See the postgraduate pages for more information on our PhD programmes

3- year PhD studentship in Experimental Physical/Materials Chemistry, UCL Department of Chemistry (D/L:30/06/19)

Using state-of-the-art experimental approaches, the aim of this fully funded PhD studentship is to investigate the interface and interplay between water and carbon species in detail. This includes studies into the hydration of hydrophobic species, the formation of clathrate hydrates, the nucleation and crystallization of ice at the carbon interface, and water-desorption processes relevant for atmospheric and cometary environments. The PhD student will be trained in a wide range of characterisation and sample preparation techniques including X-ray and neutron diffraction, Raman / IR spectroscopy, mass spectroscopy, calorimetry, high-pressure experiments, physical vapour deposition and quartz crystal microbalance measurements. The highly interdisciplinary work will benefit from interactions with a wide range of international collaborators and experiments at large scale facilities such as the ISIS neutron source.

Formal applications require the completion of the online application form using the link provided below. In addition, please email a motivation letter, a degree transcript, contact details of two referees and an up-to-date CV directly to Prof. Salzmann (c.salzmann@ucl.ac.uk) who can also be approached for informal inquiries. Full details of the research activities of the Salzmann group at UCL can be found at: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uccacgs/

UK/EU students are eligible for this studentship, which will cover tuition fees at UK/EU rate plus a stipend (tax free) for three years. The candidates should have, or expect to gain, a good honours degree (first or upper second) in chemistry, physics or a related subject, and an enquiring and rigorous approach to research. Good team-working, observational and communication skills are also essential.  The start date for the PhD position is the 23rd September 2019. The deadline for applications is the 30th of June 2019, but the position will be filled as soon as an appropriate candidate is found. Any admissions queries should be directed to Dr Jadranka Butorac (j.butorac@ucl.ac.uk). Formal applications should be submitted at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/apply.

 

In situ study of piston deposit formation (D/L:30/06/19)

UCL Chemistry is offering a fully funded 3-year studentship to a highly motivated candidate to start as soon as possible. The studentship will cover tuition fees at UK/EU rate plus a maintenance stipend (tax free) for three years.

The project will be in collaboration with a UK-based company which carries out research into the development of new engine lubricants. The student will carry out his/ her doctoral research at the Research Complex at Harwell but where required will also conduct some of the project at the industrial sponsor’s site.

The aim of the project is to use advanced characterisation methods and in-situ environments in order to understand the process/processes by which deposits form within internal combustion engines.

The ambition of this project is to study the formation process of deposits from engine lubricating oil under in-situ conditions to determine the method by which they form. Previous studies have shown that heating thin films of oil under a flow of oxygen can lead to deposits that relate to those found in real engine environments. Through employing in-situ characterisation methods, including X-ray scatter/ spectroscopy based imaging or optical spectroscopic techniques such as IR, Raman and UV-Vis, lubricant decomposition through to solid deposits of a lubricating oil can be observed. The aim is to ascertain differences in the deposit forming tendencies of lubricants and gain an insight into the mechanism of deposit formation.

The applicants should have, or be expecting to achieve, a first or upper second class Honours degree or equivalent in physics, chemistry or related subject ideally with some experience of lubricants, molecular or solid-state chemistry and/or X-ray/optical spectroscopy methods. 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 or have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Interested candidates should contact Prof. Andrew M. Beale (Andrew.beale@ucl.ac.uk) with a degree transcript and a motivation letter expressing interest in this project. Informal inquiries are encouraged. 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 (j.butorac@ucl.ac.uk).

Applications will be accepted until 30 June 2019 but the position will be filled as soon as a suitable candidate has been identified. 

Molecular design and biophysical analysis of a new class of mebrane-rupturing peptide antibiotics (D/L:22/02/2019)

Applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates for one three-year PhD Studentship. The successful candidate will be based in the Department of Chemistry at UCL and supervised by Professor Alethea Tabor and Professor Stefan Howorka. 

New antimicrobial agents are urgently needed in order to combat the threat of antibiotic resistance. Nisin, a complex polycyclic peptide,  is a promising lead. It binds with high selectively to bacterial lipid II to rupture the cell membrane via nisin-lipid II pores [1]. However, to exploit this remarkable activity for developing new simple antimicrobial agents, a thorough understanding of nisin’s structure-function relationship is necessary.  The key questions are: how does nisin’s structure influence the mechanism and kinetics of pore formation; and what is the detailed architecture of the pore?

In this project, the student will address these important challenges by synthesising simplified nisin-like peptides and studying their bactericidal activity and biophysical properties. The starting point are recently created simplified nisin-like peptides in which the lipid II-binding motif of nisin (residues 1-12) is conjugated to linear pore-forming peptides [2]. These hybrid peptides have good activity against Gram-positive bacteria. Input for the design of simple peptides also comes from a recent solid-state NMR study of the nisin-lipid II pore which suggests that structures such as one of nisin’s rings (C) may be critical for pore formation, whilst the C-terminal sequence may be unstructured [1]. Our aim is to create a platform of nisin variants with linear, circular or shortened peptides to identify those structural components essential for pore forming and bactericidal activity. To study lipid II-binding and pore-forming, fluorescence binding assays and nanopore recordings will be used [3].

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.

The requirement for this studentship is a first class or upper second-class honours degree (MSci, MChem) or equivalent. Applications, including a cover letter and full and up-to-date CV, together with the names, addresses and email addresses of two academic referees should be sent as soon as possible to Prof Tabor (a.b.tabor@ucl.ac.uk) Informal enquiries may also be made with Prof Tabor or Prof Howorka (s.howorka@ucl.ac.uk). 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 (j.butorac@ucl.ac.uk).

Please go to research group websites if you wish to find more about the research:

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/chemistry/people/professor-alethea-b-tabor

www.howorkalab.com

References:

[1] J. Medeiros-Silva et al., Nature Commun.  2018, 9, e3963

[2] S. A. Mitchell et al., Bioorg. Med. Chem. 2018, 26, 5691

[3] J. R. Burns et al., Nature Nanotechnol. 2016, 11, 152.

Guided self assembly of organic semiconductors for printable electronics (D/L:31/03/2019)

A fully funded 3-year PhD studentship is available at UCL Chemistry to work on an interdisciplinary project in the groups of Dr Bob C. Schroeder and Dr Giorgio Volpe. Solution processable molecular organic semiconductors are prime candidates to realise printable electronics. However a lack of control over molecular orientation and assembly is currently severely limiting their performance. Being able to guide their crystallisation and solid-state packing on a molecular level would therefore be a significant leap forward in optimising p-orbital overlap between adjacent molecules, thereby facilitating intermolecular charge transport. In recent years, major effort has been undertaken to enhance charge transport by trapping organic semiconductors in metastable crystal structures. Proposed methods include spatial confinement, electric-field-assisted crystallisation or fluid-enhanced crystal engineering. While all these approaches were successful in coating large areas, it is challenging to adapt them for controllably patterning organic semiconductors to be used in electronic circuits, organic photovoltaics and organic thermoelectric generators. This project will focus on the synthesis of molecular semiconductors with large, permanent dipoles (Dr Schroeder) and the application of a vapour-guided deposition and self-assembly technique (Dr Volpe) to gain control over material patterning, alignment and resolution. This approach will make it possible for the first time to study the crystallisation dynamics of organic semiconductors under non-equilibrium conditions and to control the molecular alignment using an environmentally benign, contactless method to initiate crystallisation.

Please visit our group websites for more details about our research: Schroeder Group and Volpe Group.

The applicants should have, or expect to gain, at least 2.1 honours or equivalent at Bachelor’s or Master’s level in Chemistry, or a related discipline. The successful applicant will demonstrate strong interest and self-motivation in the subject and the ability to think analytically and creatively. An enquiring and rigorous approach to research as well as excellent team-working, observational and communication skills (both presentation and writing skills in English) are also essential. Previous research experience in contributing to a collaborative interdisciplinary research environment would be highly desirable but not essential, as training will be provided. UCL offers a world-leading scientific environment in the heart of London.

Due to funding restrictions, only UK/EU students who meet the 3 years residency criteria are eligible for this studentship. The start date for the PhD is the 23rd September 2019. The deadline for applications is 31st March 2018, with interviews to be held in late April/early June, but the position will be filled as soon as an appropriate candidate is found.

Applicants should send their applications (motivation letter, CV and contact info for 2 referees) by email to Dr Schroeder (b.c.schroeder@ucl.ac.uk) and Dr Volpe (g.volpe@ucl.ac.uk), who may also be approached for informal enquiries.

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 (j.butorac@ucl.ac.uk).

Systems Chemistry: Non-Equilibrium Synthesis and the Origins of Life (D/L:28/02/2019)

Applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates for one three-year PhD Studentship. The Studentship is fully funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and available from September 2019, depending on applicant availability. The successful candidate will be based in the Department of Chemistry at UCL and supervised by Dr Matthew Powner.

The PhD project will investigate the underlying chemistry of nucleic acid and peptide synthesis and their selective polymerisation. The Powner group has developed world-leading organic chemistry to probe the origins of the core metabolite that underpin biological form and function. Now, through collaboration with leading biophysicists at LMU Munich in Germany, the influence of non-equilibrium conditions on these synthetic methodologies will be investigated. The PhD project is part of an international experimental work package designed to unravel a key missing element in the search for the Origins of Life on Earth by elucidating a novel mechanistic understanding of prebiotically important physicochemical interactions and novel synthetic methodologies.

This is a very exciting opportunity for student with a strong chemistry background to tackle one of the biggest questions in science. The successful candidate will join a group of highly motivate scientists (5 post-doctoral research associates, 6 PhD and 3 MRes students) working to elucidate the chemistry that underpins the Origins of Life on Earth. The student will directly collaborate with three groups at LMU Munich, Germany.  Dr Powner is an investigator of the Simons Foundation (New York, USA) and broader international collaborative interactions within the on going Simons Foundation Collaboration on the Origins of Life (www.simonsfoundation.org/life-sciences/origins-of-life/simons-collaborat...), as well as with members of a newly established EU Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network, are anticipated.

The minimum requirement is a first class or upper second-class honours degree (MSci, MChem) or equivalent. Applications, including a cover letter and full and up-to-date CV, together with the names, addresses and email addresses of two academic referees should be sent as soon as possible to Dr Powner (matthew.powner@ucl.ac.uk). Informal enquiries may also be made with Dr Powner. The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. GMT on 28 February 2019. Due to studentship regulations, only UK and EU students are eligible to apply for this post.

 

Development of Novel B-Directed CH Activation Reaction (D/L:1/03/2019)

Applications are invited for a four-year PhD Studentship two work on a collaborative project between Professor Tom Sheppard’s research group and  AstraZeneca to start in September 2019 which will be funded by an EPSRC iCASE award. The successful candidate will be based in the Department of Chemistry at UCL and supervised by Professor Tom Sheppard.

The PhD project will focus on the development of novel C-H activation methodology and organoboron chemistry. Applicants should hold or expect to obtain an upper second or first class chemistry degree (MSci, MChem) or equivalent. Applications, including a cover letter and an up-to-date CV, together with the names, addresses and contact details for two academic referees should be sent as soon as possible to Professor Sheppard (tom.sheppard@ucl.ac.uk). The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. GMT on 1st March 2019. Students must meet the EPSRC residence requirements (https://epsrc.ukri.org/skills/students/help/eligibility/).

 

Development of Sustainable Routes to Chiral Heterocycles (D/L:01/03/2019)

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD Studentship on a collaborative project between Professor Tom Sheppard and Professor Helen Hailes to start in September 2019, subject to confirmation of funding. The successful candidate will be based in the Department of Chemistry at UCL and supervised by Professor Helen Hailes and Professor Tom Sheppard.

The PhD project will focus on the development of novel sustainable synthetic methodology using both biocatalysis and synthetic organic chemistry. Applicants should hold or expect to obtain an upper second or first class chemistry degree (MSci, MChem) or equivalent. Applications, including a cover letter and an up-to-date CV, together with the names, addresses and contact details for two academic referees should be sent as soon as possible to Professor Sheppard (tom.sheppard@ucl.ac.uk) and Professor Hailes (h.c.hailes@ucl.ac.uk). The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. GMT on 1st March 2019. Students must meet the EPSRC residence requirements (https://epsrc.ukri.org/skills/students/help/eligibility/).

Controllable Growth of Two-Dimensional Molecular Frameworks via Contactless Droplet Manipulation(D/L:31/03/2019)

Application deadline: 31 March 2019
Start date: 24 September 2019

A fully funded PhD studentship is available to work under the co-supervision of Dr Giorgio Volpe and Dr Matthew Blunt on the experimental development of a controllable printing method to deposit and self-assemble 2 dimensional Covalent Organic Frameworks (2D-COFs).

Two-dimensional covalent–organic frameworks (2D-COFs) are materials that have seen increased interest in recent years because of their potential for technological applications including: optical devices, electrocatalysts and sensors. The directionality and alignment of domains over extended areas within 2D-COF thin-films is particularly important as these structural parameters determine the directional electrical conductivity of the material. However, current methods for 2D-COF thin-film growth (e.g. solvothermal synthesis and solid-vapour phase growth) are intrinsically limited by a lack of flexibility and control over the directionality with which molecules are deposited, and then incorporated within a growing 2D-COF layer. The aim of this project is to develop a novel route to the controlled self-assembly of 2D-COF precursor molecules at liquid-liquid and solid-liquid interfaces for the growth of highly aligned 2D-COF layers. For this purpose, we plan to adapt a method that we have recently devised, where controllable deposits of materials in evaporating droplets can be printed onto a surface via contactless manipulation by means of a local source of solvent vapour. The characterization of the self-assembled structures will be performed with a combination of techniques, including optical microscopy, scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS).

Please visit our group website for more details about our research: https://activematterlab.org

The successful applicant should have or expect to achieve a Masters-level degree (1st or 2:1) in a relevant subject, e.g. Physical Chemistry, Physics, Chemical Engineering, Natural Science or Materials Science, and an interest in working at the interface between different disciplines of physical chemistry, including soft matter and self-assembly. 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 experimental soft matter and programming are desirable.

To apply in first instance, please email a motivation letter, an up-to-date CV and contact details for 2 referees to Dr Giorgio Volpe (g.volpe@ucl.ac.uk) and  Dr Matthew Blunt (m.blunt@ucl.ac.uk) who may also be approached for informal enquires. Ideal starting date: September/October 2019. The application deadline is 31 March 2019 but the position will be closed as soon as a suitable applicant has been selected.

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 or have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

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 (j.butorac@ucl.ac.uk).

 

Using photoelectron spectroscopy and cyclic voltammetry to explore the redox properties of organic molecules in aqueous solution(D/L:31/01/2019)

Application deadline: 31 January 2019
Start date: 24 September 2019

A fully funded (36 month) PhD studentship is available in UCL Chemistry to work on an interdisciplinary project in the groups of Professors Helen Fielding, Katherine Holt and Graham Worth involving liquid microjet photoelectron spectroscopy, cyclic voltammetry and quantum chemistry calculations. The aim of this project is to combine liquid microjet photoelectron spectroscopy measurements of ionization potentials and cyclic voltammetry measurements of the kinetics and reversibility of electron transfer to determine one-electron standard reduction potentials of the ground and electronically excited states of a range of organic molecules in aqueous solution. The measurements will complemented by  computational chemistry calculations. The student will gain experience of working on a multidisciplinary project and gain expertise in state-of-the-art spectroscopy, cyclic voltammetry and computational chemistry.

The applicants should have, or expect to gain, at least a 2.1 honours degree, or equivalent, at Masters level in Chemistry, or a related physical science discipline. The successful applicant will have a strong interest in physical chemistry and have the ability to think analytically and creatively. An enquiring and rigorous approach to research as well as good team-working and communication skills (both presentation and written English) are essential.

UCL offers a world leading scientific environment in the heart of London.

Due to funding restrictions, only UK/EU students who meet the 3 years residency criteria are eligible for this studentship. The start date for the PhD is in late September 2019. The deadline for applications is 31 January 2019, although the position will be filled as soon as an appropriate candidate is found.

Applicants should send their applications (cover letter describing motivation for applying, CV and contact details for 2 referees) by email to Professor Helen Fielding h.h.fielding@ucl.ac.uk, who may also be approached for informal enquiries along with Professors Katherine Holt k.b.holt@ucl.ac.uk or Professor Graham Worth g.a.worth@ucl.ac.uk.

Applicants will also 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 the postgraduate administrator Dr Jadranka Butorac (j.butorac@ucl.ac.uk).

Understanding the electronic properties of self-assembled materials by a combination of theory and experiment(D/L:15/02/2019)

Application deadline: 15 February 2019
Start date: 24 September 2019

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 (m.zwijnenburg@ucl.ac.uk) and Dr. Rob Palgrave (r.palgrave@ucl.ac.uk) who may also be approached for informal enquires. Ideal starting date: September/October 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.

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 or have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

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 (j.butorac@ucl.ac.uk).

Efficient calculation of binding fee-energies and druggability in challenging drug targets(D/L:15/02/2019)

Application deadline: 3 June 2019
Start date: 24 September 2019

Supervisors: Professor Francesco Gervasio (UCL) and Dr Ben Cossins (UCB)

This four year PhD research project, due to start in October 2019, is a collaboration between University College London and UCB pharma, a global biopharmaceutical company (www.ucb.com). The doctoral student will be formally based at UCL in the group of Francesco Gervasio but will also have a placement of three months or more at UCB, Slough, UK. The successful candidate will be awarded a doctorate from UCL.

Recent estimates put the development cost of a new medicine at over 2 billion dollars. Of the enormous number of compounds entering the drug discovery pipeline, only a tiny fraction reach the market. Failures in the later (clinical) stages are extremely costly. It is therefore of great importance to identify early on lead compounds that interact with biologically validated target and exert their mechanism without inducing adverse effects (toxicity). In this respect, computational approaches are expected to play an increasing role. Fast docking algorithms can now reliably predict binding modes. But the ranking of compounds based on affinity still requires a more in-depth understanding of the association mechanisms.3 In this respect, fully atomistic molecular dynamics based approaches are increasingly useful. Over the last 10 years, thanks to better protein and ligand force-fields, exponential increase in computer performance and better sampling and free-energy algorithms, these methods made enormous progress and can now accurately predict binding mechanisms, relative BFEs and even absolute BFEs and binding kinetics. However, to obtain absolute free energies and binding kinetics, they require very significant sampling and are still too computationally demanding for most de-novo design projects. For this reason, triaging from a virtual screening is often carried out based on knowledge about the interactions of known active compounds and visual inspection.

FLG’s group contributed to understand binding mechanisms and developed methods for accurate binding free energy calculations. His “coarse Metadynamics” approach inspired the now widely-used “binding pose Metadynamics”scoring method by a software company. Together with UCB, his group has recently thoroughly tested a number of fast free energy estimation approaches (BP Metadynamics, FEP WaterSwap) in a number of relevant biological targets. However, they concluded that, albeit they are fast they are often not able to distinguish active from inactive, so can only have limited impact.  Here we plan to build on our extensive experience in method development and drug discovery and develop a computational platform based on methods such as SWISH and multiple-walker Metadynamics with funnel shaped restraints to quickly achieve the required accuracy for semi-quantitative and quantitative scoring on cheap graphic processing units (GPUs). We are confident that this is achievable based on extensive preliminary data on several targets (including GPCRs). The level of accuracy required should be tuneable: active/inactive (where active is a kd of < 200 µm) for relatively quick screenings and up to ~2kcal/mol or better for hit optimization. The proposed techniques will be experimentally validated by UCB by biophysical (microcalorimetry, SPR) and structural approaches (crystallography).

This project is fully funded by the EPSRC with an additional stipend provided by UCB. To be eligible, applicants must satisfy 3 years UK residency criteria. Please submit a full CV and covering letter to Dr. Ben Cossins (Ben.Cossins@ucb.com) and Prof. Francesco Gervasio (f.l.gervasio@ucl.ac.uk

A 4-year EngD studentship in Integrated Microfluidic E-SERS Platform for Biosensing (D/L:30/06/2019)

Application deadline: 30 June 2019

Start date: 23 September 2019

Location: London

Topics: nanomaterials design and fabrication, surface-enhanced Raman scattering, electrochemistry, microfluidics, biosensing

The UCL Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecular Modelling and Materials Science is offering a fully funded studentship to a highly motivated candidate to start in September 2019. The studentship will cover tuition fees at UK/EU rate plus a tax-free maintenance stipend (e.g. £18,277 pa) for four years.  The project will be in collaboration with Camtech Innovations Ltd. in Cambridge. The student will carry out his/her doctoral research mainly in the Lee group at the UCL Bloomsbury Campus. Short-term visits to Camtech to perform microfluidics design and fabrication should be expected. 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 or have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Electrochemical surface-enhanced Raman scattering (E-SERS) is a powerful analytical technique that combines electrochemical measurements and in situ SERS spectroscopy. E-SERS extends the capability of conventional SERS via selective electrochemical enhancement of specific Raman signals, allowing multiplexed detection of biomolecules (e.g. uric acid) in complex environments. While recent advances in photonic technology has enabled handheld SERS spectrometers, the development of E-SERS sensors remains challenging due to the cumbersome fabrication of integrated plasmonic microchips. This project aims to design and fabricate integrated E-SERS microchips for biosensing applications, which will synergise with other experimental effort led by the Lee group. In particular, E-SERS microchips will be achieved by a combination of photolithography and in situ electrodeposition that allows plasmonic nanostructures to be directly grown within a prefabricated microfluidic device, significantly simplifying the process. The project aims to pave the way towards on-the-spot diagnostics through robust multiplexed sensing of biomarkers in bodily fluids using a handheld standalone device.

Please visit the group website for more details about our research: http://tungchunlee.weebly.com/

The successful applicant should have or expect to achieve a first or upper second class Honours degree or equivalent in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, or a related discipline. 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, plus good presentation and writing skills in English, are required. Previous research experience in contributing to a collaborative interdisciplinary research environment is highly desirable but not necessary as training will be provided. Knowledge in advanced data analysis using machine learning techniques is desirable. Please contact Dr. Tung Chun Lee (tungchun.lee@ucl.ac.uk) for further details or to express an interest. Applications will be accepted until 30 June 2019 but the position will be filled as soon as an appropriate candidate is found.

A 3.5-year PhD studentship in Programmable Conducting Polymer Nanocomposites for Printable Sensor Chips (D/L:31/07/2019)

Supervisors: Dr. Tung Chun Lee (UCL), Dr. Ming-Yong Han (IMRE, A*STAR)

Application deadline: 31 July 2019

Start Date: 23 September 2019

Location: London (1.5 years), Singapore (2 years)

Topics: nanomaterials design and synthesis, conducting polymers, supramolecular chemistry, sensing

This position is fully funded by the UCL-A*STAR Collaborative Programme via the Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecular Modelling and Materials Science (M3S CDT) at UCL. The student will be registered for a PhD at UCL where he/she will spend year 1 and the first six months of year 4. The second and third years of the PhD will be spent at the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) in Singapore. The Studentship will cover tuition fees at UK/EU rate plus a maintenance stipend of about £16777 (tax free) pro rata in years 1 and 4. During years 2 and 3, the student will receive a full stipend directly from A*STAR. In addition, A*STAR will provide the student with one-off relocation allowance. Please note that, due to funding restrictions, only UK/EU citizens are eligible for this studentship.

Conducting polymers (CPs) are a unique type of organic materials that exhibit electrical and optical properties similar to those of inorganic semiconductors or, in selected cases, metals. Classical CPs, e.g. polythiophene, are intrinsically water-insoluble and difficult to functionalise, hindering their applications in biomedical applications. Conventional approach of introducing water-solublity and bespoke functional groups to CPs often involves functionalisation of monomers prior to polymerisation which is cumbersome and challenging to perform.

This PhD project aims to design and synthesise stimuli-responsive, multifunctional CP systems for biosensing and nanophotonic applications, which will synergise with other experimental effort led by the Lee group. In particular, highly fluorescent and biocompatible PC nanocomposites will be achieved by engineering the combinatorics of pendant functional groups on the polymer chains which is only possible via a mix-and-match supramolecular approach developed by our group. The project aims to pave the way towards modular design of aqueous CP nanocomposites for printable electronics and sensor chips for biomedical applications.

Please visit the group website for more details about our research: http://tungchunlee.weebly.com/

The successful applicant should have or expect to achieve 1st  or 2:1 class Integrated Masters degree (MSci, MChem, etc.) or 2:1 minimum BSc plus stand-alone Masters degree with Merit in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, or a related discipline. 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, plus good presentation and writing skills in English, are required. Previous research experience in contributing to a collaborative interdisciplinary research environment is highly desirable but not necessary as training will be provided. Please contact Dr. Tung Chun Lee (tungchun.lee@ucl.ac.uk) for further details or to express an interest. Applications will be accepted until 15 July 2019 but the position will be filled as soon as an appropriate candidate is found.