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The University’s own website for advertising vacancies is www.liverpool.ac.uk/working/jobvacancies/

Whenever vacancies are advertised, there will be a free and open competition for the positions. We always want to encourage the best applicants. To make an application you must apply to the University by the formal mechanisms indicated in the links from the job advertisement.  Please note that if no vacancy is advertised, then there is no vacancy available at the present time.

PhD Studentships in Condensed Matter Physics

The Condensed Matter Physics group in the Department of Physics has a couple of PhD studentships available for an October 2023 start. Creative and highly motivated applicants are encouraged to apply. A degree (First or Upper Second) in Physics, Materials Science, Biophysics, Chemical Physics or a related field is required. Applications should be made as soon as possible (the closing date for applications is 10th February 2023). The funding will come from the EPSRC DTP award and will be open to UK-eligible students only. The award will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years (currently £17,668 p.a.)

To apply please use the link https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/how-to-apply/

Please indicate in your application which of the following projects you are interested in (you can select more than one). Further information on the projects can be obtained from the listed contacts. Interviews will be held towards the end of February 2023.

(1) Ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy of bacterial photosynthetic supercomplexes

Photosynthesis is how the majority of organisms produce energy and support most of life on Earth. As such by gaining an understanding of the processes that nature has evolved, we can advance methods to harvest the sun’s energy, enabling global climate change goals to be achieved. A good model bacteria to understand the photosynthetic light-harvesting and energy transduction is purple phototropic bacteria. Purple bacteria are of particular research interest as they can absorb light over a broad spectral range in a diverse environmental niches and can produce hydrogen along with being able to fixate both nitrogen and CO2. In this project you will investigate charge and energy transfer dynamics in the light harvesting-reaction centre complexes of purple bacteria using ultrafast transient absorption laser spectroscopy. In order to gain a deeper understanding of the structure-function relationship of the photosynthetic core complex, a series of genetically modified protein complexes will be investigated using spectroscopic and structural techniques. Energy and transfer dynamic data will be analysed using a range of techniques including life time density and global lifetime analysis and correlated with structural and activity data of the complexes. The project is located at the Physics department of the University of Liverpool and co-supervised by Dr Frank Jaeckel (Physics) and Prof Luning Liu (Biochemistry and Systems Biology). It will make extensive use of the transient absorption spectroscopy facility in the Early Career Laser Laboratory at Liverpool. There will also be opportunities to develop skills in biological sample preparation using the protein production facility in the Department of Biochemistry and Systems Biology at Liverpool.

For more details contact: Frank Jaeckel (fjaeckel@liverpool.ac.uk), Luning Liu (lnliu@liverpool.ac.uk)

(2) Early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer utilizing an IR fingerprint of blood

This project aims to develop a method of diagnosing pancreatic cancer, which is the most lethal of the common cancers, from the analysis of infrared signatures of blood.  This approach has the potential to satisfy the urgent clinical need for an early diagnosis of this disease which is the major problem that must be overcome in order to reducing mortality. The PhD student will be a key member of a strong interdisciplinary team of physicists (Peter Weightman and Stephen Barrett) that have recently developed a patented machine learning algorithm for the analysis of infrared spectral images of cancer and pancreatologists (Eithne Costello, Christopher Halloran and Pedro Perez-Mancera) with a long track record of research on pancreatic cancer.  

For more details contact: Peter Weightman (peterw@liverpool.ac.uk)

(3) Surface Properties of high entropy alloys

The discovery of high entropy alloys (HEA) has attracted much attention in the field of condensed matter physics and material engineering [1].  HEA are alloys formed by at least five elements randomly distributed on crystal lattice sites. They exhibit unexpected properties opening new areas of research in fundamental science and technological applications. Many of the potential applications of HEA such as catalysts and coating materials in transport and aerospace industries are related to surface phenomena. Therefore, an atomic scale understanding of HEA surfaces and interfaces would be vital to optimising these properties. This project deals with characterisation of surface atomic and electronic properties and oxidation behaviour of HEA using ultra-high vacuum-based experimental techniques including X-ray Photoemission Spectroscopy (XPS), Scanning Tunnelling Microscopy (STM), and Low Energy Electron Diffraction (LEED). The candidate will work under the supervision of Dr Hem Raj Sharma and Dr Sam Coates. The experimental work will be carried out in the Department of Physics of the University of Liverpool. However, the candidate will be provided the opportunity to perform experiments in the laboratories of our overseas collaborators including member institutes of the European Integrated Centre for the Development of New Metallic Alloys and Compounds (C-MAC) and/or at large-scale facilities such as ESRF or Diamond.

For more details contact: Hem Raj Sharma (hemraj@liverpool.ac.uk)

(4) In-situ x-ray and electrochemical characterisation of energy materials

Electrochemical processes play a crucial role in our daily life and underpin many technologies such as corrosion inhibition, metal plating, energy supply through batteries and energy conversion by fuel cells and solar cells. The project will help to establish structure-stability-reactivity relationships of metal electrodes and their oxides which are of high importance to catalytic applications. Elucidating the role of the individual elements and the resulting structure and distribution of electrons for activity and stability will help to design in the future more widely functional materials from a rational design approach. These processes will be studied by electrochemical methods which will give insight into nucleation, growth process and stability.  Combined with structural and spectroscopic X-ray methods details about the bonding and atomic charges can be obtain and directly linked to the electrochemical behaviour. The experimental work will include laboratory-based characterisation by electrochemical methods and X-ray methods. Travel to various synchrotron (e.g. ESRF (Grenoble), Diamond (Oxford)) is foreseen for the in-situ characterisation by x-ray scattering methods. Training in all aspects of the project will be provided with access to state-of-the-art infrastructure in the University. The student will acquire skills in materials processing and characterisations and in the application of synchrotron radiation for the study of materials.

For more details contact: Yvonne Grunder (grunder@liverpool.ac.uk), Chris Lucas (clucas@liverpool.ac.uk)

(5) Thin film intermetallic materials for spintronic applications

Spintronic devices manipulate the spin of the electron, rather than the charge, to perform computation, data storage and sensing. Recent progress in materials discovery has brought to light a host of novel materials and physical phenomena which offer new means to convert sizeable pure spin currents from charge currents, and vice versa. Materials where spintronic and electronic properties are controlled by the symmetry of the underlying crystal structure offer new means to create novel devices where, by encoding information in the electron spin, data writing, storage and access can be far more energy efficient than current technologies. In this project we will use physical vapour deposition under ultra-high vacuum to fabricate thin film intermetallic materials for spintronic applications. These represent a diverse materials class, where symmetry can be exploited, through varying composition, to influence band structure, topology, spin-charge conversion etc. The project is suited to students with an interest in condensed matter research and magnetic and spintronic materials, including novel thin film growth.

For more details contact: Liam O’Brien (lobrien@liverpool.ac.uk), Jon Alaria (alariaj@liverpool.ac.uk)

(6) Examining isotope effects in ion–molecule reactions (funded by the Leverhulme Trust)

Reactions between ions and neutral molecules are known to be important in low-temperature environments such as the outer atmosphere and the interstellar medium. Accurate information on the properties of these ion–molecule reactions is therefore critical for the development of robust models of gas-phase atmospheric and interstellar chemistry. Yet there is a lack of experimental data on ion–molecule reaction systems under low-temperature conditions. It is exceedingly challenging to undertake such measurements; only a handful of experimental techniques have successfully established accurate rate coefficients and branching ratios at temperatures below 298 K (<25°C). We have developed an innovative approach for monitoring ion–molecule reactions under highly controlled conditions, using a combination of ion trapping and laser cooling-based methods coupled with sensitive detection techniques. High-level theoretical work has been conducted alongside the experimental measurements, to help us interpret the results and understand the reaction mechanism.

Previous studies have revealed the presence of inverse kinetic isotope effects—where deuterated molecules react faster than the hydrogenated species—in certain charge transfer reactions. In this project, we seek to use a combination of experimental and theoretical methods to establish how widespread inverse kinetic isotope effects might be, and to explain the mechanism(s) responsible for this behaviour in ion–molecule reaction systems.

Experiments will involve the use of a linear Paul ion trap and laser cooling techniques, for the formation of cold ionic targets, alongside molecular beam generation and laser manipulation, for the preparation of neutral reactants. Reactions will be monitored using imaging and time-of-flight mass spectrometry detection techniques. Experimental work will be complemented by detailed computational work, including capture theory modelling and high-level quantum chemistry and dynamics calculations. This combination of experimental and theoretical work will enable us to validate (or challenge) existing models of ion–molecule chemical reactivity.

Candidates should have at least a 2.1 undergraduate degree (ideally a four-year integrated Master’s degree, or a three-year Bachelor’s degree with a stand-alone Master’s qualification) in Chemistry, Physics or a related field. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to work closely with our diverse team – including physicists, chemists, and computer scientists. Expert mentoring and training will be provided by members of the supervisory team: Dr Brianna Heazlewood (Liverpool), Dr Jérôme Loreau (KU Leuven), and Professor Tim Softley (Birmingham). Further information on our research, alongside a list of publications, can be found at https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/physics/research/heazlewood-group/research/

For more details contact:Brianna Heazlewood (b.r.heazlewood@liverpool.ac.uk)


All current opportunities will be listed below.

Internships will be advertised as they become available.

Listings – Jobs, studentships and summer placements currently available

Jobs, studentships and summer placements will be advertised as they become available.