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Chemistry: Fully Funded EPSRC PhD Scholarship 2020/21

Closing date: 30 April 2020

Key Information

Start date: October 2020 

Potential PhD supervisors:

Project area:

Dr Francisco Martin–Martinez

Computational design of biobased nanomaterials

Dr Marcella Bassetto

Medicinal chemistry: in silico design and synthesis of novel drugs

Dr James Ryan

Organic Electronics: Development of organic semiconducting materials and electronic devices

Professor Owen Guy

Radical materials and devices towards photomagnetism

Project description:

The College of Science hosts a world-leading research programme in chemistry. Chemistry plays an important role in a huge range of applications and research fields offering many opportunities for interdisciplinary research. Available research opportunities include both application-driven projects, aiming to tackle grand global challenges such as energy, health and the environment and projects pursuing fundamental scientific questions. 

Examples of projects linked with material science and chemical engineering include membranes for CO2 capture, liquid purification, producing 2D-materials, and developing energy materials for batteries. Examples linked with biosciences and medical research include nature-inspired generation of fuel from waste, non-invasive diagnosis, new treatment methods for cancer, development of new drugs, bio-sensors, microfluidic devices and micro-needles. Projects linked with physics, materials and computer science include the development of solar-cell devices, micro-electronics, multi-scale modelling of materials and studying molecule-surface interactions using novel spectroscopy and controlled collision methods.

Modern laboratories and state-of-the-art equipment will be available to support the research and offer unique training opportunities with advanced research techniques. 

Excellent candidates with a background in chemistry or one of the fields mentioned above are strongly encouraged to contact us (details below), learn more about all the different projects available and find a suitable research project/group. 

Exemplar Projects:

Dr Francisco Martin–Martinez 

Highly Interdisciplinary, and collaborative research to design, simulate and experimentally develop functional biobased materials with tailored nanostructure for applications in a circular economy. It integrates computational chemistry methods of conceptual density functional theory (DFT) and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, with newly developed Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms. This multiscale modelling and simulation approach aims at elucidating the assembly and degradation processes that control the experimental synthesis of biobased materials. It includes fundamental research on the electronic structure, reactivity, intermolecular interactions, and processing conditions of several biomass materials, biomaterials and nanomaterials that can potentially include combinations of lignin, nanocellulose, nanochitin, biocrude oils, graphene, carbon nanoparticles, or even protein-based biomaterials, among others.

Dr Marcella Bassetto 

A combination of computer-aided drug design techniques and synthetic organic chemistry methods will be used to identify and synthesise novel broad-spectrum antiviral treatments, in the form of small-molecule compounds, for viral infections caused by New World arenaviruses (NWA), and by enteroviruses. The first viral group is associated with deadly haemorrhagic fever diseases in humans, while the second is responsible for numerous, severe conditions, especially in young children.

In both cases, suitable targets for the development of broad-spectrum antivirals have been identified. These targets will be studied with a series of in silico analyses, which will guide the design and synthesis of novel compounds, able to interfere with the essential functions of these proteins, and therefore to impair the virus life cycle.

Dr James Ryan

Organic semiconductors have been utilised in a variety of electronic devices, OLEDs being a prime example of a technology already in the marketplace. They are also making headways in solar cells, transistors and more recently neuromorphic computing, which is the main focus of this project. The project will involve the synthesis and characterisation of nanomaterials, fabrication of prototype devices and device characterisation. A range of chemical, material, electrochemical and electrical techniques will be employed. This technique will allow us to understand the semiconducting properties of the materials and the operating mechanism of the device. Furthermore, new design rules can be implemented to develop more efficient and low-cost devices. The project will involve working closely with researchers in the new £90M Centre for Integrative Semiconductor Materials (CISM) at Swansea University as well as external collaborators in Europe and Japan.

Professor Owen Guy

Radical materials and devices towards photomagnetism: This project will explore all-organic radical molecules which contain unpaired, free electrons. The radicals have unusual physics which could advance new frontiers for carbon-based organic electronics. Unlike most organic materials which contain all-paired electronics, the radicals’ unpaired electron has a quantum mechanical property called spin which gives rise to magnetism and ‘doublet’ character. We have shown that their spin properties can be combined with strong luminescence to make highly efficient organic light-emitting diodes for converting electricity to light [1]: more efficient than non-radical counterparts that have been used to date. Here, the fundamental photo- and spin physics of radical materials will be investigated towards photomagnetism: the light-induced switching of magnetic states for molecular-scale electronics. By utilising the radicals’ luminescence, magnetism and spin properties, the foundations will be established for novel functionality in next-generation optoelectronic and spintronic applications.

[1] X. Ai, E. W. Evans, S. Dong, A. J. Gillett, H. Guo, Y. Chen, T. J. H. Hele, R. H. Friend, F. Li, 2018, Nature563, 536-540

Eligibility

Candidates must have a first or upper second class honours undergraduate degree (or equivalent) or a Master's degree with Merit, in a relevant discipline. 

For candidates whose first language is not English, we require IELTS 6.0 (with 5.5 in each component) or equivalent. Please visit our website for a list of acceptable English language tests. We prefer candidates to have already met the English Language requirements at the point of application, although this is not a requirement.

Studentships funded by EPSRC are subject to UK/EU residency eligibility

Funding

This is a three-year fully funded scholarship, which covers UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual stipend of £15,245. 

How to Apply

To apply, please complete and return the following documents to the College of Science:

  • Academic References – all scholarship applications require two supporting references to be submitted. Please ensure that your chosen referees are aware of the funding deadline, as their references form a vital part of the evaluation process. Please either include these with your scholarship application or ask your referees to send them directly to Professor Juan Mareque-Rivas (juan.mareque-rivas@swansea.ac.uk).
  • Academic Transcripts and Degree Certificates – academic transcripts and degree certificates must be submitted along with the scholarship application by the funding deadline. We will be using these to verify your academic qualifications.
  • A recent CV
  • Applicants should use the ‘Supplementary Personal Statement’ section of the application form to explain why the award they are applying for particularly matches their skills and experience and how they would choose to develop the project.

Please email the documents to Professor Juan Mareque-Rivas (juan.mareque-rivas@swansea.ac.uk) and put ‘EPSRC 24-26 SCHOLARSHIP 2020-2021’ in the email subject header, or post them to:

Recruitment and Marketing Team
College of Science
Wallace Building
Swansea University
Singleton Park
Swansea SA2 8PP

Informal enquiries before the deadline for formal applications are welcome by emailing either the Postgraduate Research Admissions Tutor (Professor Juan Mareque-Rivas, juan.mareque-rivas@swansea.ac.uk) or any of the other faculty members listed in the departmental webpage  https://www.swansea.ac.uk/chemistry/ourstaff/ to help identify a suitable potential research group and PhD supervisor.