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Fully-Funded (Home/EU Rate) PhD Studentship (Fixed Term) - Controlled Nanoscale Electrodeposition for Bimetallic Nanoparticle Synthesis

University of Cambridge - Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Cambridge
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 12th October 2018
Closes: 14th December 2018
Reference: LJ17010

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 3 years in the first instance.

Combining the light-harvesting power of plasmonics and the favorable surface chemistry of catalytic metals provides exciting opportunities to create multifunctional NPs that enhance and control light-driven chemistry. Recently, work on new Al/Pd plasmonic-catalysts hybrids has been published [1], followed by the expansion of these solution-based syntheses to 8 different transition metal clusters, providing exquisite composition flexibility for multifunctional nanoparticles [2]. However, these synthetic approaches provide little control over the distribution of catalytic metal on the plasmonic particles owing to their essentially random nucleation and aggregation.

In this project, we aim to use electrodeposition, aka electroplating, as a new nanoscale surface synthesis tools capable of achieving a superior control over surface composition. This will readily provide multifunctionality to nanostructures, for applications in plasmon-enhanced catalysis and beyond. Specifically, metals will be electrochemically deposited onto plasmonic nanoparticles supported on a conductive substrate, and we will study how electrochemical behavior changes at the nanoscale due to undercoordination and plasmonic effects. The optical properties of the particles undergoing this driven electrochemical reaction will be tracked in-situ using single particle spectroscopy [3-4], while the deposition specificity will be analyzed using atomic resolution electron microscopy and spectroscopy.

The results of this work will provide new tools for particle synthesis, as well as new fundamental understanding of will create a new approach to controllably functionalize plasmonic NPs with catalytic metals. In particular, details of how crystallographic orientation and undercoordinated sites (such as corners and edges) affect the surface electrochemical potential in nanoparticles will be unraveled, answering fundamental questions and providing guidance in the design of complex surface composition patterns. The understanding of the surface deposition control achieved with electrochemistry, and of nanoscale effects in electrodeposition, will unlock a new synthetic toolbox for the manipulation and fabrication of multifunctional NPs for sensing and catalysis. 

Applicants should have (or expect to be awarded) an upper second or first class UK honours degree at the level of MSci, MEng (or overseas equivalents) and should be eligible for 'home rate' fees.

  1. D. F. Swearer, R. K. Leary, R. Newell, S. Yazdi, H. Robatjazi, Y. Zhang, D. Renard, P. Nordlander, P. A. Midgley, N. J. Halas, E. Ringe, "Transition Metal Decorated Aluminum Nanocrystals" ACS Nano (2017), 11, 10281
  2. D. F. Swearer, H. Zhao, L. Zhou, C. Zhang, H. Robatjazi, J. M. Martinez, C. M. Krauter, S. Yazdi, M. J. McClain, E. Ringe, E. Carter, P. Nordlander, N. J. Halas, "Heterometallic Antenna-Reactors Complexes for Photocatalysis", PNAS (2016), 113, 8916
  3. A. Kumar, E. Villarreal, X. Zhang, E. Ringe, "Micro-Extinction Spectroscopy (MExS): A versatile Optical Characterization Technique" Adv. Struct. Chem. Imag. (2018) 4, 8
  4. E. Ringe, A.-I. Henry, B. Sharma, L. D. Marks, R. P. Van Duyne "Single Nanoparticle Plasmonics", Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. (2013), 15, 4110

For more information contact Emilie Ringe (

Application forms and the Graduate Studies Prospectus are available from the Graduate Admissions Office at Further information on the application process is available from Rosie Ward (

Please quote reference LJ17010 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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