Nanotechnology: Fully funded EPSRC and RADON grant PhD scholarship

EQUilibrium, metastability, and Universal dynamics of the atomic Structures of size-selected nanoclusters under irradiation (EQUUS): A fundamental platform for scale-up of green nanoparticle production

Any scientist wants to know how a process really works! The Matrix Assembly Cluster Source (MACS) invented by the Principal Supervisor (patent held by Swansea University) provides a radical transformation in the green production (solvent- and effluent-free) of nanoparticles with applications in catalysis, theranostics, photonics etc. It scales up the intensity available from a traditional cluster source by 10,000,000X. The method replaces condensation of metal atoms in a dilute cryo-cooled gas (the third body for cooling collisions) with a frozen solid matrix of rare gas (typically Argon). Metal atoms collide as a result of cascades of atomic collisions provoked by energetic ion beam impact (these correspond to stirring the flask in a wet chemical analogy). The new method is attracting notable industrial and international interest. However the atomic and electronic processes which take place in the matrix (it even fluoresces!) are to a large extent a mystery.

This PhD project will develop a fundamental understanding of the effects of ion beam irradiation (primary and secondary) on clusters nucleated and ripening in (and sputtered out of) the matrix by establishing a multi-scale approach which couples radiation chemistry codes to DFT, MD and multiscale methods (Monte Carlo etc). The fundamental physics understanding obtained will drive the optimisation and tuning of the new production method. However the project will not just address the fascinating issues of metastability and ergodicity in a radiative environment. It will establish a new basis for tuning/modifying and optimising the nascent nano-manufacturing process we have demonstrated, leading to further increases in yield, selectivity and resource efficiency. Ultimate industrial beneficiaries will include our industrial technology partners, Johnson Matthey, Grove Nanomaterials and Nium.

The project would suit an excellent student with degree in Physics, Maths, Computer Science or Engineering. The project is theoretical/computational in nature, but experimental work is also available according to the student’s interests. The student will be seconded for extensive periods to our Satellite Nano-Theory Lab in AUTh, Thessaloniki and our modelling partners the MBN Research Centre in Frankfurt, so a willingness to travel is essential. We are an international outfit aiming to contribute to the frontiers of international advance in nanotechnology.

Closing date: 22 March 2023

Find out more and apply here!