PhD - Exploring Low Energy Excitations with Electron Microscopy

University of Oxford

Dr R J Nicholls, Prof J R Yates, Prof P D Nellist

In the last two years advances in electron microscopy have given us the opportunity to revolutionise our understanding of catalysts, defects and functional materials. This can be achieved by using electron energy loss spectroscopy to probe the low-energy excitations within advanced materials. A new generation of electron microscopes are able to combine atomic resolution imaging with high resolution electron energy loss spectroscopy, allowing vibrational spectroscopy at atomic resolution and the ability to carry out precise bandgap measurements with spatial resolution. These advances will benefit the study of catalyst particle surfaces and materials such as transparent conducting oxides. The first of these new microscopes in Europe was unveiled at the UK SuperSTEM facility last year. This project will combine experimental data from this new facility with quantum mechanical simulations to address some of the fundamental questions rising from these new experimental capabilities. This new knowledge will then be applied to cutting-edge materials problems.

Candidates are considered in the January 2017 admissions cycle which has an application deadline of 20 January 2017.

Interviews for shortlisted candidates: Please note that if it has not been possible to hold them sooner (by individual arrangement), interviews will take place on one of the following days Thursday 2nd or Friday 3rd March 2017 – hence please hold these dates available.

This 3.5-year EPSRC DTP studentship will provide full fees and maintenance for a student who has home fee status (this includes an EU student who has spent the previous three years (or more) in the UK undertaking undergraduate study). The stipend will be at least £15,296 per year. Other EU students should read the guidance at for further information about eligibility.

Any questions concerning the project can be addressed to Dr Rebecca Nicholls ( or Professor Pete Nellist ( General enquiries on how to apply can be made by e‑mail to You must complete the standard Oxford University Application for Graduate Studies. Further information and an electronic copy of the application form can be found at


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South East England