Postgraduate Research Opportunity: Characterising the Early Stages of Crystallisation using Electron Microscopy

University of Leeds

Funded PhD project: Worldwide (International, UK and EU)
Number of awards: 1
Deadline: 01/07/2018
Supervisors: Contact Professor Rik Drummond-Brydson to discuss this project further informally.

Project description

Crystallisation is a fascinating process and lies at the heart of processes as varied as the production of ceramics, pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals, nanomaterials and biominerals. Equally important is the prevention of unwanted crystallisation in the form of weathering, scale or kidney stones. Only by understanding how materials crystallise can we hope to control these processes. Despite the importance of crystallisation, we still have a poor understanding of many of the mechanisms that underlie this fundamental phenomenon. This is due to the fact that crystallisation is governed by molecular scale processes that are very difficult to study experimentally. For example, while experiments can identify reaction conditions that generate specific crystal polymorphs, they cannot alone explain why this occurred.

This PhD project forms a part of a larger EPSRC Programme Grant involving Chemistry at Leeds and 3 other Universities and brings together a team of researchers who will couple experiment and theory to address this challenge. The experimental programme brings to the fore such frontier analytical techniques as liquid-phase transmission electron microscopy (TEM), cryo-TEM and functional scanning probe microscopies that will allow us to study the changes in solid and solution during crystallisation as never before. This will be coupled with recent advances in modelling to perform simulations of nucleation and growth processes on comparable time- and length-scales, providing a unique opportunity to fully understand crystal nucleation and growth at the nanoscale. The goal of this particular PhD project is to measure and understand the early stages of inorganic crystallisation utilizing advanced characterisation techniques – including the recently installed FEI Titan TEM and the use of a new liquid cell TEM holder as well as the correlation of this data with that obtained by rapid cryo-freezing of crystallising liquids. Research in the project fits within the School of Chemical and Process Engineering’s expertise in Advanced Engineering Materials, and specifically within the Electron Microscopy and Nanoscale Characterisation research group (comprising 3 academics, 5 research and technical staff, and 8 PhD students). Related subjects: Chemical Engineering; Materials Science; Nanotechnology; Chemistry; Physics; Data Analysis

Entry requirements

Applications are invited from candidates with or expecting a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2:1), and/or a Master’s degree in a relevant engineering or science degree, such as (but not limited to) materials science, chemistry or physics.

Additional staff contact

Professor Fiona Meldrum

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the university's website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the PhD you wish to be considered for is the ‘Characterising the early stages of crystallisation using electron microscopy’ as well as Professor Rik Drummond-Brydson as your proposed supervisor. 

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English Language requirements.

We welcome scholarship applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

If you require any further information please contact the Graduate School Office
e:, t: +44 (0)113 343 8000.

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