Physics research at the University of Liverpool


PhD Studentships in Condensed Matter Physics

The Condensed Matter Physics group has several PhD studentships available for an October 2024 / Early 2025 start. A degree (First or Upper Second class) in a field relevant to the project is required. Unless stated otherwise, funding comes from the EPSRC DTP award. The award will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years (currently £18,854 p.a.). We especially welcome applications from members of underrepresented and minoritised communities.

We also welcome and support prospective students who are either able to self-fund their PhD studies or are planning for or have already secured a funded PhD scholarship. We can point interested candidates to suitable schemes. More information about the level of funding needed to self-fund is available at the University webpage.


How to Apply

For informal inquiries regarding a PhD in Condensed Matter Physics, please contact Dr Joe Forth (

To make a formal PhD application, click here.

Our PhD applications are handled collectively. Under supervisor, please put Dr Joe Forth to facilitate the application processing.

Please indicate in your application which of the projects below you are interested in (you can select more than one). Further information on these projects can be obtained from the listed contacts. Please do not hesitate to reach out via email to discuss these opportunities further. The positions will be filled as soon as a suitable candidate is found.

Projects Offered

We currently offer PhDs in the following projects. Please feel to contact members of the Condensed Matter groups to discuss these, or any other relevant projects that you think could be tailored to your interests:

Synchrotron X-ray Studies of Energy Materials

The principal focus of this PhD project is to apply advanced X-ray methodologies to the study of materials relevant to energy technologies, in particular on materials with electrochemical applications. Electrochemistry deals with reactions that involve transfer of electrical charge at interfaces between an electrode and a chemical species in solution. Materials such as metal-oxides and bimetallic components play a major role in many different electrochemical applications, including electrolysis, electrocatalysis and energy storage. 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. 

This project is linked to the XMaS facility in Grenoble where placements will take place and experiments will be conducted. The XMaS synchrotron beamline facility has recently been awarded a £9M grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for the period 2024-2029 to further studies into the atomic structure, electronic structure and chemical properties of materials at varying length scales, utilising advanced sample environments to allow the materials to be studied under realistic operational conditions. XMaS ( is located in Grenoble, France, at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). It works with over 90 active research groups, representing several hundred researchers, and embraces a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines under the generic theme of materials science, cutting across research themes in physics, chemistry, biosciences, healthcare, engineering, and energy. The XMaS facility delivers bright X-ray beam with an extended operational energy range to higher X-ray energies thereby enabling new activities in materials research, particularly in terms of operando experiments. The X-ray methodologies are complemented by other techniques, for example, in the upcoming year a Raman spectrometer will be incorporated into the beamline.

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, electrochemical methodologies and in the application of synchrotron X-ray radiation for the study of material structure. The experimental work will include laboratory-based characterisation by electrochemical methods and X-ray methods. This PhD studentship will be centred around experiments performed at the XMaS beamline (and possibly also at other beamlines at the ESRF and at other SR sources-Diamond Light Source and Advanced Photon Source). The focus of the experiments will be to exploit synchrotron radiation (SR) for the study of materials related to energy applications. In particular the experiments will focus on in-situ X-ray studies to probe structure-function relationships in materials such as thin film organic semiconductors and electrocatalysts for water splitting and other electrochemical processes. The student will acquire skills in materials processing and in the application of SR for the study of materials.

For more details contact Prof. Chris Lucas (

Note: this position is directly funded by the University of Liverpool and the closing date for applications is 21st February 2024

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 (, Luning Liu (

Application of Artificial Intelligence to the Diagnosis and Prognosis of Cancer

This project will apply a patented machine learning algorithm (MLA) and related artificial intelligence approaches to the diagnosis and prognosis of cancer.  The physics group have shown that the application of the MLA to infrared spectral images of tissue can predict whether oral lesions will become malignant with an accuracy of 80% [1-4]. This is a significant advance on current histopathological techniques which at best are only accurate to 40%, less than tossing a coin and failing 60% of patients. This research is funded by Cancer Research UK [5] and the National Institute of Health and Care Research [6] and is aimed at developing as prototype of a device, the Liverpool Diagnostic Infrared Wand (LDIR Wand), to translate this advance into clinic.

The approach can be applied to any cancer where diagnosis and prognosis depends on the analysis of biopsies and the group are developing collaborations with clinicians specialising in a number of cancers. The PhD student will be a key member of a strong interdisciplinary team of physicists (Peter Weightman and Stephen Barrett) and their clinical collaborators.


[1] J. Ingham et. al. Infrared Physics and Technology 102 103007 (2019)

[2] J. Ingham et. al. WIPO Patent Application: PCT/GB2019/050998 5/4/19.

[3] B.G. Ellis et. al. PLoS One 17 e0266043 (2022)

[4] J. Ingham et. al. IOP SciNotes 3 034001 (2022)




For more details contact: Peter Weightman (

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.  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 synchrotron facilities.

For more details contact: Hem Raj Sharma (

Manipulating radical beams to study radical–surface and ion–radical interactions

Radicals are prevalent in gas-phase environments such as the atmosphere, combustion systems, the interstellar medium, and even exhaled breath. However, it is technically challenging to prepare sources of pure gas-phase radicals with tuneable properties. To overcome this issue, we have recently constructed a versatile and innovative “magnetic guide”. The magnetic guide produces a beam of state-selected radicals with continuously tuneable velocity from a mixture of gases (containing radicals, precursor molecules and seed gases). The device is currently being characterised, and will shortly be combined with two existing experiments—an ion trap and a liquid-surface set-up—for the study ion-radical and radical-liquid surface interactions with unprecedented control and precision. In this way, we can examine important gas-phase radical interactions in isolation (i.e. without competing side reactions) for the first time.

The project will involve a combination of experimental measurements and simulations, using evolutionary algorithms to optimise the experimental parameters. You will work closely with experienced group members, whilst still being able to take ownership of the project. You will also have the opportunity to help shape the direction of the research, depending on your strengths and interests. Further information can be found at

For more details contact: Brianna Heazlewood (


A 3D-Printed Blood-Brain-Barrier-on-a-Chip for Agrochemical Permeability Studies – CASE Studentship

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) tightly regulates the flow of material between the bloodstream and the brain [1]. One of the big problems faced by a range of sectors, from pharmaceuticals to agrochemicals, is understanding how compounds interact with and cross this barrier. One approach to solving this problem is to design model systems that reproduce the behaviour of the BBB in a lab. Researchers currently rely on 2D in vitro models, which are overly simplistic, or animal models, which are ethically questionable and produce data of limited translational relevance. In this project, you will use a 3D printing technique called ‘direct ink writing’ to fabricate a perfusable BBB model (a ‘BBB-on-a-Chip’) that recapitulates human BBB physiology with unprecedented accuracy. You will use confocal fluorescence microscopy, image analysis, and a range of analytical chemistry techniques to study cell behaviour within your printed model and its ability to reproduce physiological BBB properties. Throughout the project, you will work in close collaboration with our industrial partner, Syngenta, to study how agrochemicals interact with your model BBB, enabling you to develop a tool for future interrogation of neuropathy, inflammation and axonal degeneration. We welcome applicants from a wide range of scientific, clinical, and engineering backgrounds; experience with cell culture and sterile technique would be advantageous.


This is a CASE studentship in partnership with Syngenta. The successful applicant will receive an enhanced stipend (minimum £22500 p/a, tax free), an enhanced travel and consumables budget, and undertake a 3-month placement at Syngenta’s main Research and Development campus (Jealott’s Hill, UK).


[1]       X. Tian et al., “On the shuttling across the blood-brain barrier via tubule formation: Mechanism and cargo avidity bias,” Sci. Adv., vol. 6, no. 48, p. eabc4397, 2020, doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abc4397.

[2]      J. Forth et al., “Reconfigurable Printed Liquids,” Adv. Mater., vol. 30, no. 16, p. 1707603, 2018, doi: 10.1002/adma.201707603.


For more details contact: Joe Forth ( and David Dickens (


Indoor Solar Cells

Solar photovoltaics have now become a staple of the power generation mix, deployed on rooftops and in fields around the globe. The technology has now reached a point of maturity where research is focussing on ways to extend it’s use into new and impactful areas of application. Despite sounding faintly ridiculous, there is a burgeoning field focussed on developing high performance solar cells for use indoors or under low illumination conditions1. The need is being driven by the explosion in the number of smart devices used to create the so-called internet-of-things (IoT). There all already in excess of 200 billion IoT devices in operation including various sensors (e.g. temperature, pressure, vibration), tracking tags (GPS, RFID), as well as for multiple control and monitoring applications. The amount of connected devices is likely to exceed a trillion in the coming decade, ~50% of which are anticipated to be indoors and thus subject to artificial light illumination. Developing an efficient and widespread IoT ecosystem has the potential to revolutionise both energy usage and efficiency in a variety of industries and domestic settings. At present IoT devices are predominantly reliant on disposable batteries which need to be produced and replaced, placing a large burden on global resources and additional cost. Switching to solar cell powered devices removes the reliance on disposable battery technology allowing enhanced reliability, removes battery waste and affords longer operational lifetimes for IoT sensor networks. By harvesting ambient light to persistently power individual sensors or nodes from small photovoltaic cells of only a few square centimetres, it enables a new generation of Internet connected devices which can support energy efficiency, real time monitoring or optimised production processes.


As this is an emerging research area there are a number of challenges in the development of indoor solar cells. For over 50 years the solar cell community has sensibly focussed on semiconductor materials which are tailored to the solar spectrum. The illumination provided by artificial sources is though completely different though and we now need to completely redefine the requirements1. Higher bandgap materials (>1.7eV) are far more suited but have previously been ignored by the research community. One material of particular interest is antimony sulfide, Sb2S3 due to it’s supremely high optical absorption coefficient, ease of deposition and it’s defect tolerance due to a 1D nano-ribbon crystal structure2. Despites it’s near-ideal properties the material has not been properly studied for indoor applications. This project will focus on fabrication and analysis Sb2S3 thin film solar cells tailored to the development of high-performance, low-cost indoor photovoltaics.


The Major group is the leading European group working on antimony chalcogenide materials3. The student will join the research team in the Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy (SIRE) and will become an expert in thin film deposition and solar cell fabrication, as well as in associated structural, optical and device level analysis techniques.  They will also work with collaborators from Tallinn Technical University, University of Verona, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and IREC Barcelona as part of the ACT-FAST European project as well as becoming part of the global Renew-PV research network (


[1] I. M Peters et al, “Technology and Market Perspective for Indoor Photovoltaic Cells”, Joule, 3, 1415-1426 (2019).

[2] R. Kondrotas et al, “Sb2S3 Solar Cells”, Joule, 2, 857-878 (2018).

[3] C. H. Don et al, “What can Sb2Se3 Solar Cells Learn from CdTe?”, PRX Energy, 2, 041001 (2023).


For more details contact: Jon Major (



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.

All job vacancies in the UK must be advertised by law. Most universities, including Liverpool, use the website 

The University’s own website for advertising vacancies is

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.

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