Subject areas: Experimental Physical Chemistry, Soft Matter, Nanotechnology, Engineering, Materials Science, Surfaces and Interfaces

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).

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 January 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).

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