Subject areas: Soft Matter, Active Matter, Droplets, Surfaces and Interfaces.

The studentship

This position is fully funded by the UCL-A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore) 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 in the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) of A*STAR in Singapore. The studentship will cover tuition fees at the home rate, and an annual stipend of no less than £17,609 increasingly annually with inflation (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 a one-off relocation allowance.

The project

The transport of droplets on surfaces has broad applications, including handling small amounts of matter, harvesting energy, manufacturing materials, and sensing chemical and biological analytes. A particularly alluring strategy to control droplet motion is the use of super-slippery lubricated surfaces inspired by the Pitcher plant, which can be created by infusing a solid porous material with a lubricating liquid (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RDU7fuZ3EQ). Whilst different methods have been proposed to manipulate droplets on super-slippery lubricated surfaces, these are typically of limited reach and versatility. The aim of this project is therefore to develop a minimally invasive, universal, and scalable method for the manipulation of droplets of any liquid on such surfaces without altering their composition. Specifically, this project will focus on developing a novel noncontact droplet manipulation technique to control the motion of droplets on super-slippery lubricated surfaces. This novel technique will combine vapour-mediated forces and capillary-driven processes to manipulate droplets in pre-defined tracks on such surfaces with fast droplet motion (up to m/s). This novel approach will enable us to use the transport of droplets for energy, manufacturing and sensing applications on super-slippery lubricated surfaces. See https://activematterlab.org/ (Dr Volpe) and https://dropletlab.science/ (Dr Daniel) for more details on our research.

The candidate 

The applicants should have, or be expecting to achieve, a first or upper second-class integrated masters degree (MSci, MChem, etc.) or 2:1 minimum BSc plus stand-alone Masters degree with at least a Merit in Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science, Engineering 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, computer skills and observational and communication skills (both presentation and writing skills in English) are also essential. Previous data analysis and programming experience is highly desirable. Previous research experience in contributing to a collaborative interdisciplinary research environment would be highly desirable but not essential, as training will be provided.

Interested candidates should initially contact the supervisors, Dr Volpe () and Dr Daniel (), with a degree transcript and a motivation letter expressing interest in the project. Informal inquiries are encouraged.

Please note that a suitable applicant will first be required to complete MS Form entitled Application for Research: degree Chemistry programme. The next step is to complete an electronic application form at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/apply (please select Research degree: Chemistry programme).

All shortlisted applicants will be invited for the interview no more than 4 weeks after the application deadline. The interview process will include a short data analysis project and the preparation of a small report to summarise its results.

Any admissions queries should be directed to Dr Zhimei Du

Applications will be accepted until 15/04/2022.

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