School of Physical Sciences

  • Image
  • Image
  • Image
  • Image

Research opportunities

Below you will find information on opportunities to work on research with us. We have funded positions and a list of projects available for self-funded researchers. If you have another research project in mind, get in touch and we can discuss how we can help you.


 

MSc/PhD Studentships in Chemistry and Physics

Funded postgraduate projects available in the department are displayed here.

Funded MSc Projects:

TBC

Funded PhD Projects:

Postgraduate Scholarship in Chemical Selection of Therapeutic Aptamers

Supervisor: Dr Christopher Serpell

A funded PhD position is available to study the chemical selection of modified aptamers as therapeutic candidates.
Aptamers are short oligonucleotide sequences that bind with high specificity to diverse biological targets. The recognition properties of aptamers can be harnessed to create therapeutic agents. However, the chemistry of aptamers is largely limited to that of nucleic acids. The relatively slow development of clinical aptamers to date is largely due to this limitation. Non-natural modifications of nucleic acids are known to enhance aptamer affinity, but no technologies for discovering the right modifications amongst millions of possibilities currently exist. Centauri Therapeutics, our industrial collaborators, are using aptamers to target specific pathogens (e.g. antibiotic resistant microbes, cancer cells) and then elicit an immune response to eliminate the threat.
The aim of the project is to develop the first general method for discovery of modifications which increase aptamer binding efficacy. The results will be directly applicable to industrial drug development.

The successful candidate will be based mainly at the University of Kent's main campus in Canterbury as part of the Functional Materials Group, and work under the supervision of Dr Christopher Serpell, with co-supervision by Prof. Michelle Garrett (Kent School of Biosciences) and Dr Helen Lavender (Centauri Therapeutics). They will also conduct some of their research at Centauri’s laboratory at Discovery Park (Sandwich).
This PhD Studentship is due to start in September 2018.

Entry requirements and Funding: Applicants should have or expect to obtain a first or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry, Biochemistry, or a related subject. This is a Vice Chancellor’s Research Scholarship, which will be offered at the standard UK Research Councils' rate (currently £14,777; to cover living costs) and will additionally cover tuition fees at the Home/EU rate (currently £4,260 per annum). This scholarship is available to both UK and EU nationals and will involve undertaking teaching/demonstrating duties during the period of study.

Webpageshttps://research.kent.ac.uk/serpell / http://www.centauritherapeutics.com / https://www.kent.ac.uk/bio/profiles/staff/garrett.html

Contact: For further information or informal enquiries, please contact Dr Christopher Serpell (C.J.Serpell@kent.ac.uk)

How to Apply: To apply please go to: https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/18/chemistry
You will need to apply through the online application form on the main University website. Please note that you will be expected to provide personal details, education and employment history and supporting documentation (Curriculum Vitae, transcript of results, two academic references).

Deadline Date for Applications: 27th May 2018

Interviews to be held on: 13th June 2018

Postgraduate PhD Scholarship in Phytochemicals

A PhD scholarship is available funded by the Taylor’s University Flagship Research Fund, working with Prof. Chin Kin Fah (Taylor’s University, Subang Jaya, Dr Isabel Fong (UNIMAS, Kuching, Malaysia), and Dr Christopher Serpell (University of Kent, Canterbury, UK).

The student will investigate the anti-obesity potential of phytochemicals first discovered in the Borneo rainforest. These phytochemicals give plants some of their colours, but they have also been shown to have a beneficial effect on cultured fat cells. This project will expand on those results, aiming to set the stage for clinical trials.

The successful candidate will start at Kent by synthesising the same compounds (with variations) in bulk and creating novel nanoscale delivery systems. In the second year, they will perform in vitro cell studies at UNIMAS, which will uncover structure-activity relationships, and determine the biochemical mode of action. In the third year, the candidate will study the effects of the phytochemicals on high fat induced animal models at Taylor’s University. The overall aim of the project is to discover new pharmaceuticals based on natural products which will address important societal challenges.

The student will gain diverse training including: organic synthesis, nanoscale drug formulation, in vitro and in vivo studies, immunohistochemistry, molecular genetic techniques gaining unusually broad insight into all stages in the drug development process. Furthermore, the student will benefit from valuable cultural exchange, working at an established UK university and two vibrant and highly ranked universities in Borneo and mainland Malaysia. They will enjoy the opportunities to explore diverse and fascinating parts of the world. In addition, the position will directly open up opportunities for employment in Malaysia.

The successful applicant will have a Bachelor's degree with CGPA of at least 3.33 and a Master's degree with CGPA of at least 3.5 if taught, or a Master's degree by research.

This PhD Studentship is due to start in September 2018.

For further information, UK applicants should contact Dr Serpell (C.J.Serpell@kent.ac.uk), and Malaysian candidates should contact Prof. Chin (KinFah.Chin@taylors.edu.my) or Dr Fong (flisabel@unimas.my).

Tuition fees are fully covered by this scholarship, and the student will receive £14,000 stipend for the initial year in the UK and 30,000 RM each year for the following two years while based in Malaysia.

Deadline for applications: 1st June 2018

Postgraduate Scholarship in Polymers with Therapeutic Applications

Supervisors: Dr Stefano Biagini, Christopher Serpell

An EPSRC funded PhD position is available to study the synthesis of ROMP polymers with controlled drug release properties.

Antimicrobial resistance is a global, urgent threat to human health. Patient-tailored treatment of infections are required with the correct dosage of antibacterial drug to limit the development of resistant strains. Polymer-drug conjugates as controlled drug delivery methods offer advantages over traditional methods including improved efficacy, reduced toxicity, and improved patient compliance and convenience. Poly(anhydride-ester) (PAE) backbones in particular have proven very effective for releasing drugs at a consistent rate. Furthermore different geometries can be adapted for different administration routes, e.g. microspheres for injectable administration. A limitation of these systems however is that the polymerisation processes are not controlled, hindering precise formulation. The Ring Opening Metathesis Polymerisation (ROMP) process is a powerful living polymerisation technique, and this does allow for finely tuned polymer formation. So the chain length can be controlled and homogeneous polymers can be prepared, choosing from a vast range of different molecular architectures. Furthermore ROMP allows for the preparation of copolymers such that ligands capable of cellular recognition can be incorporated alongside the drug to be delivered.

The aim of this project is to develop well-defined ROMP polymers capable of cellular recognition and controlled drug release for the treatment of infections and other conditions. The project will require and develop skills in organic synthesis, polymerisation processes and associated analytical techniques including, GC, NMR, MS, TEM and GPC characterisation.
The successful candidate will be based mainly at the University of Kent's main campus in Canterbury as part of the Functional Materials Group, and work under the supervision of Dr Stefano Biagini with co-supervision by Dr Christopher Serpell.

This PhD Studentship is due to start in September 2018

Entry requirements and Funding: Applicants should have or expect to obtain a first or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry, or a related subject. This is an EPSRC funded Scholarship which will be offered at the standard UK Research Councils' rate (currently £14,777; to cover living costs) and will additionally cover tuition fees at the Home/EU rate (currently £4,260 per annum).  This studentship is available to both UK and EU nationals and there will be the opportunity to undertake teaching/demonstrating duties during the period of study.

Webpages: https://www.kent.ac.uk/physical-sciences/staff/profiles/academics/stefano-biagini.html
https://research.kent.ac.uk/serpell

Contact: For further information or informal enquiries, please contact Dr Stefano Biagini (S.Biagini@kent.ac.uk)

How to Apply: To apply please go to: https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/18/chemistry
You will need to apply through the online application form on the main University website. Please note that you will be expected to provide personal details, education and employment history and supporting documentation (Curriculum Vitae, transcript of results, two academic references).

Deadline Date for Applications: 1st June 2018

Interviews to be held on: 22th June 2018

Postgraduate Scholarship in Main Group Chemistry

Supervisor: Dr Ewan R Clark

A funded PhD position is available entitled, “Phosphenium Cations: Phospha-Friedel-Crafts Intermediates for Modern Synthesis.”
This project aims to reassess the fundamental nature and reactivity of phosphenium cations. Phospha-Friedel-Crafts chemistry (with unstabilised cationic phosphenium intermediates) for the formation of carbon-phosphorous bonds has been known for over a century but is barely used due to the harsh conditions required and poor reaction control. Our recent isolation of a weakly stabilised phosphenium cation and subsequent studies of its reactivity challenge the accepted wisdom on the nature and extent of stabilisation in these systems. To date phosphenium cations have been regarded as curiosities as a result of their extreme Lewis acidity. Conceptually however these systems could be employed in any reaction system that utilises Lewis acids. This project will focus on isolating and characterising phosphenium cation adducts, studying their fundamental properties and ultimately utilising these adducts for new synthetic chemistries, as main group catalysts and bespoke, stoichiometric reagents for novel transformations.
The project will involve main group and organic synthesis and the solid and solution state characterisation of new systems, primarily using multinuclear NMR, single crystal XRD, and cyclic voltammetry, backed up by DFT calculations.

The successful candidate will be based at the University of Kent's main campus in Canterbury under the supervision of Dr Ewan Clark, as part of the Functional Materials Group of the School of Physical Sciences.
This PhD Studentship is due to start in September 2018.

Entry requirements and funding: Applicants should have or expect to obtain a first or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry or a related subject. Experience in synthetic main group chemistry or catalysis is desirable, but full training will be given in all relevant techniques. This is a Leverhulme Trust (RPG-2018-067) funded Scholarship for a total of 42 months, offered at the standard UK Research Councils' rate (currently £14,553 per annum; to cover living costs) and will additionally cover tuition fees at the Home/EU rate (currently £4,195 per annum).

Webpage(s): https://research.kent.ac.uk/clarkchemistry/

Contact: For further information or informal enquiries, please contact Dr Ewan R Clark at e.r.clark@kent.ac.uk.

How to Apply: To apply please go to https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/18/chemistry
You will need to apply through the online application form on the main University website. Please note that you will be expected to provide personal details, education and employment history and supporting documentation (Curriculum Vitae, transcript of results, two academic references).

Deadline Date for Applications: Friday June 22nd, 2018

Postgraduate Scholarship in Structure, Dynamics and Photovoltaic Performance in Hybrid Perovskites

Supervisor: Mark Green and George Dobre

A funded PhD position is available in the field of neutron and synchrotron scattering in photovoltaic materials.
In recent years organic-inorganic hybrid perovskites have taken the photovoltaic community by storm. Having already demonstrated solar cell efficiencies competitive with silicon, ​they now look to revolutionise a whole host of technologies utilising the low cost, low temperature solution synthesis and astonishing material properties of the hybrid perovskite. The rapid developments and excitement surrounding this class of materials has been in spite of an incomplete understanding of the structure and dynamics that drives these extraordinary performance, and shedding light on this mechanism is vital if the potential of these materials is to be fully realised. 

This project aims to study hybrid perovskite photovoltaic devices, improve our understanding of their structural dynamics through a range of neutron and synchrotron diffraction techniques and correlate this with their photovoltaic performance. This fundamental research will then be applied to the construction and performance characterisation of novel device architectures, improving both efficiency and stability thereby contributing towards the development of new green energy technologies.

The successful candidate will be based in the School of Physical Sciences at the University of Kent's main campus in Canterbury as part of the Functional Materials Group, and work under the supervision of Mark Green and George Dobre (Applied Optics Group).

This PhD Studentship is due to start in September 2018.

Entry requirements and Funding: Applicants should have or expect to obtain a first or upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in Physics, Chemistry, Materials or a related subject. This is a Vice Chancellor’s Research Scholarship, which will be offered at the standard UK Research Councils' rate (currently £14,777; to cover living costs) and will additionally cover tuition fees at the Home/EU rate (currently £4,260 per annum).  This scholarship is available to both UK and EU nationals and will involve undertaking teaching/demonstrating duties during the period of study.

Webpage(s): https://www.kent.ac.uk/physical-sciences/staff/profiles/academics/mark-green.html

Contact: For further information or informal enquiries, please contact Mark Green at m.green@kent.ac.uk.

How to Apply: To apply please go to [https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/18/chemistry] / [https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/212/physics].
You will need to apply through the online application form on the main University website. Please note that you will be expected to provide personal details, education and employment history and supporting documentation (Curriculum Vitae, transcript of results, two academic references).

Deadline Date for Applications: 22nd June 2018

Interviews to be held on: 6th July 2018

PhD Scholarship in ‘Observations of Solar System Small Bodies’

Supervisor: Dr. Stephen Lowry

The Centre for Astrophysics & Planetary Science at the University of Kent offers a fully funded PhD studentship for commencement in September 2018. The project involves studying the formation and evolution of asteroid and cometary bodies via analysis and modelling of data from telescope observations. The PhD project will be conducted under the supervision of Dr. Stephen Lowry, and will be based at the University of Kent’s main campus, in Canterbury.  Further details on the project can be provided by Dr. Lowry. 

Entry requirements and Funding: Applicants should have or expect to obtain a first-class honours degree (or equivalent) in Physics, Astrophysics, or a related subject. This Scholarship will be offered at the standard UK Research Councils' rate (currently £14,553 per annum; to cover living costs) and will additionally cover tuition fees of ~£4195 per annum. Candidates must be ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the studentship. Students from other EU countries may be eligible for a fees-only award.

Webpages:
http://astro.kent.ac.uk/
http://www.kent.ac.uk/physical-sciences/       

Contact: For further information or informal enquiries, please contact Dr. Stephen Lowry directly (s.c.lowry@kent.ac.uk), and for further information on how to apply via the University of Kent online system, please contact Michael Woods (spsadmissions@kent.ac.uk). 

How to Apply: To apply please go to: https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/212/physics
You will need to apply through this online application form on the main University website. Please note that you will be expected to provide personal details, education and employment history and supporting documentation (Curriculum Vitae, Transcript of Results, Two Academic References).

Deadline for Applications:  June 22nd, 2018.

Interviews are anticipated to be held during June/July 2018.

Postgraduate Scholarship in Complex Quantum Order in Unconventional Superconductors

Supervisor: Jorge Quintanilla

A funded PhD position is available in the field of Condensed Matter Theory.
The aim of the project is to predict theoretically the experimental signatures and possible applications of the recently-proposed “Loop Josephson Current” superconducting state [SK Ghosh, JF Annett, and J Quintanilla, https://arxiv.org/abs/1803.02618]. In this state, Cooper pairs are in perpetual, quantum-coherent cyclic motion on the atomic scale. The theoretical discovery of a new state of matter is very rare and offers an excellent opportunity for a career-launching PhD project. The project will benefit from links to top experimental groups in Europe, Japan and China with whom we co-discovered the unusual nature of superconductivity in several materials leading to the Loop Josephson Current hypothesis.

The successful candidate will be based at the University of Kent's main campus in Canterbury as part of the Quantum Theory and Simulation effort within the Functional Materials Group. The work will be carried out within the EPSRC-funded collaboration “Unconventional Superconductors: New Paradigms for New Materials” involving the Universities of Kent and Bristol in partnership with the ISIS Facility, STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Kent is also a member of the Hubbard Theory Consortium.
This PhD project is due to start in September, 2018.

Entry requirements and Funding: Applicants should have or expect to obtain a first or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in Physics, Mathematics or a related subject. This is a Vice Chancellor’s Research Scholarship, which will be offered at the standard UK Research Councils' rate (currently £14,553 per annum; to cover living costs) and will additionally cover tuition fees at the Home/EU rate (currently £4,195 per annum).  This scholarship is available to both UK and EU nationals and will involve undertaking teaching/demonstrating duties during the period of study.

Webpage(s):

Contact: For further information or informal enquiries, please contact Jorge Quintanilla at j.quintanilla@kent.ac.uk.

How to Apply: To apply please go to https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/212/physics.
You will need to apply through the online application form on the main University website. Please note that you will be expected to provide personal details, education and employment history and supporting documentation (Curriculum Vitae, transcript of results, two academic references).

Deadline Date for Applications: 22 June 2018

Interviews to be held between: 2 July and 13 July 2018

Postgraduate Scholarship in Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics


Supervisor: Dr Gunnar Möller

We seek candidates for a four-year PhD position within a Royal Society funded project on “Fluctuation driven orders near quantum critical points”.

The goal of this PhD project is to provide a quantitative study of quantum critical fluctuations based on a combination of quantum order by disorder theory [1] and stochastic resummations of Feynman graphs known as diagrammatic Monte-Carlo [2]. During this project, we will examine how fluctuations can entropically stabilise non-trivial phases near the ferromagnetic quantum critical point, found in materials such as ZrZn­2, as well as studying phases emerging from the competition of superconducting and nematic orders in models of iron-based superconductors.

The project will offer exposure to both numerical and analytical methods of quantum many-body physics. The candidate will perform tasks ranging from code development, simulation and data analysis to the application of analytic models and comparison to theory predictions, allowing them to develop their understanding of condensed matter physics alongside strong computational and programming skills.

The successful candidate will be based in the School of Physical Sciences at the University of Kent's main campus in Canterbury, and will benefit from the Graduate School of the University of Kent and activities within the SEPNet Consortium. They will work within the Quantum Materials research theme of the school’s interdisciplinary Functional Materials Group, under the direct supervision of Dr Gunnar Möller. The project will involve will include an external collaboration with Prof. Andrew Green at University College London. Within the Functional Materials Group, the post is part of a growing theoretical physics community led by principal investigators Prof. P. Strange, Dr. J. Quintanilla, Dr. S. Carr, Dr N. Bristowe and Dr G. Möller. The candidate will also benefit from our international network of collaborators.

This PhD Studentship is available with immediate effect. The start date of this project is flexible, but the post should be taken up before 16 September 2018.

Entry requirements and Funding: Applicants should have (or expect to obtain) a first or upper second-class honours Master degree (or international equivalent) in Physics, Mathematics or a related quantitative subject.  A solid background in condensed matter physics and computational methods is essential, and knowledge of many-body physics and field theoretical methods would be an advantage. Readiness to engage with high performance numerical work is essential, and prior experience programming and working in a Linux environment is desirable. Candidates should have good communication skills and a solid working knowledge of the English language.

This is a Royal Society funded PhD studentship, which will be offered at the standard UK Research Councils' rate (currently £14,553; to cover living costs). The award is offered for four years, and includes a generous travel budget. The award will additionally cover tuition fees at the Home/EU rate (currently £4,195 per annum); students of other nationalities are invited to apply provided they can cover the excess international fees. Further information on student fees for international applicants can be found on the University’s Student Finance webpages. The post holder may undertake some teaching or demonstrating duties during their period of study. The University of Kent is an equal-opportunities employer. Women, members of ethnic minorities, and members of other under-represented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

Webpages:

Contact: For further information or informal enquiries, please contact Dr Gunnar Möller at G.Moller@kent.ac.uk.


References: [1] A.G. Green, G. Conduit, and F. Krüger, arxiv:1707.02457 (2017); [2] K. Van Houcke et al., arXiv:0802.2923, Computer Simulation Studies in Condensed Matter Physics XXI, Springer (2008).


How to Apply: To apply please go to: https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/212/physics
You will need to apply through the postgraduate online application form on the main University website. Please indicate Full-Time-PhD for entry in 2018 and list Dr Gunnar Möller as/among your preferred supervisor(s) to be considered for this studentship. Please use the box entitled “Research Proposal” to demonstrate how you meet the requirements for this specific post. You may use the box “Source of Funding” to apply for consideration for alternative sources of funding. Note that you will also need to provide personal details, education and employment history and supporting documentation (Curriculum Vitae, transcript of results, and two or three academic references).


Deadline Date for Applications: We will continue to consider applications until the position is filled.

 

Below is a list of projects available on a self-funded basis. If any of these are of interest please contact the relevant member of staff. If you already have a research project in mind we are always happy to discuss this with you; please contact Dr Silvia Ramos-Perez.

Research projects by Research Group

Applied Optics Research Group (AOG)

To discuss specific projects in Applied Optics, please contact Prof. A. Podoleanu.

Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science (CAPS)

Variable Young stars (Dr Dirk Froebrich)
The main objective of this project is to characterise long term variable young stars based on photometric and spectroscopic data. The project will utilise existing archival data, new and existing data from our own Beacon Observatory as well as data obtained as part of our citizen science project HOYS-CAPS which works with amateur astronomers. We aim to develop a classification scheme for variable young stars and utilise the statistical properties of the long term lightcurves and colour changes to investigate the mass accretion process in young stars. We also aim to identify unusual, peculiar or newly outbursting objects for detailed follow-up studies, as well as preparation for future LSST data.

Investigations of jets and outflows from young stars (Dr Dirk Froebrich)
The main objective of this project is to investigate data taken by the UK Widefield Infrared Survey for H2 - UWISH2. About half the survey area has so far not been searched for jets and outflows from young stars. The project aims to setup a Galaxy-Zoo type citizen science project to aid the identification and analysis of the data. We aim to compare the determined statistical properties of the outflows and young stars to model calculations in order to establish if the outflows can indeed be used as long term mass accretion tracers (as often claimed in the literature) or if the environment has too large an influence on the emission from these objects.

Computer simulations of radio galaxies (Prof Michael Smith)
A study of the largest objects in the Universe. This involves computer simulations of relativistic magnetohydrodynamic flows and their visualisation and analysis. Related simulations of gas flow out of nozzles to model planetary nebula and stellar jets is possible.

Radiative shocks in astrophysics (Prof Michael Smith)
These two projects involve either a mathematical or numerical study of the variable properties of shock waves associated with supernovae remnants, planetary nebula and the interstellar medium.

Star-forming clouds (Prof Michael Smith)
Multi-dimensional computer simulations of gas flows, aimed at understanding how molecules are destroyed in supersonic turbulence. This involves large-scale computer simulations, visualisation and analysis. A related project involves the modelling of the formation of stars as they evolve.

Evaluating the impact of expanding HII region on local star formation (Dr James Urquhart)
This project involves identifying a large number of large HII region bubbles using multi-wavelength survey data and linking these to the dense star-forming clumps located around them. Once a viable sample has been identified these will be compared to star formation taking place in different environments (quiescent clumps and active star forming complexes). If the triggered star formation models are correct then we should find the star formation taking place on the edge of bubbles to be significantly enhanced compared to star formation taking place in more quiescent regions. This will involve some detailed analysis of multi-wavelength observational data sets, statistical analysis of different samples and comparison to theoretical predictions.

Investigating the connection between clumps, filaments and the spiral arms (Dr James Urquhart)
This project will investigate the link between the large scale structure of the Milky Way and star formation. The primary objective is to investigate the Galaxy as a driver of star formation. This will be achieved by identifying and fully characterising a population of giant molecular filaments (GMFs) and investigate their connection with the spiral arms and their role in the star formation process. This project will identify many hundreds of GMFs, which will be used to investigate their formation mechanisms (Galactic shear, magnetic fields, converging flows etc) and determine how mass flows through these structures into the denser regions where the star formation is concentrated. This project will focus on the exploitation of multi-wavelength continuum and spectral-line Galactic plane surveys that have recently been completed.

Reverse Engineer the Structure of the Milky Way (Dr James Urquhart)
Recent surveys of the Galactic plane provide a vast amount of observation information that can be used to constrain possible models of the structure of the Galaxy. This project will develop a Monte Carlo code to generate synthetic observational data sets from a variety of proposed models of the distribution of gas in the Galaxy. The constraints obtained from the real observations will be used to guide the iterative development of the Monte Carlo code. This will provide insight into the real distribution of molecule gas in the Milky Way.

Forensic Imaging Research Group (FIG)

To discuss specific projects in Forensic Imaging, please contact Dr. C. Solomon.

Functional Materials Research Group (FMG)

From micro- to meso-scale modelling of crystals with structural complexity (Dr Nicholas Bristowe)
The modelling of complex materials from first principles, such as density functional theory, is often practically limited to the microscope. Many important phenomena, however, including phase transitions, dynamical properties, the role of defects and the response to external fields, requires an understanding at the mesoscale. Recently our group, in collaboration with Jorge Iniguez (LIST), has been testing the development of an all-atom model potential built from first principles. These potentials are systematically improvable and computationally efficient and will enable modelling of mesoscale phenomena in complex systems with near first principles accuracy.

Magnetic ordering at surfaces from first principles (Dr Nicholas Bristowe)
The understanding of magnetism in nanoscale objects is likely to be key to the future of magnetic memory and other electronic and spintronic devices. Unfortunately, current modelling is often not fully predictive since, in practice, it requires parameterisation from experimental data. On the other hand, the predictive power of first principles calculations is often limited to over-simplified systems to make computations tractable. The Siesta method, based on Density Functional Theory, is one of the first principles techniques better-suited to surface studies, due to its localised basis set. In collaboration with the group of Miguel Pruneda (Theory & Simulation Group at ICN2, Barcelona), who is implementing spin orbit coupling in Siesta, we will be studying magnetic anisotropy and emergent magnetic phases at various crystal surfaces.

Using Glass Ceramics to Make Nuclear Waste Safer (Dr Gavin Mountjoy)
Nuclear power provides 30% of the electrical supply. At the end of the lifetime of nuclear reactors there needs to be safe disposal of radioactive waste. This is done using "vitrification" to produce a "glass waste form" which is a type of glass ceramic. This project will study (non-radioactive) samples of base glasses and glass waste forms from the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL). Computer modelling will be used to study the atomic structure of base glass, and x-ray techniques will be used to study waste elements in the waste forms. Additionally, scanning electron microscopy will be used to image the waste forms. The goal is to improve the efficiency of the vitrification process.

Magnetism, Superconductivity and Novel Quantum Order (Dr Emma Pugh)
In some materials in which the electrons have strong interactions, new quantum ordered states, including unconventional superconducting states, can be produced which cannot be explained by the traditional low temperature theories of matter. These materials have varied and interesting properties with the possibility of technical applications. It has been found that there is a strong inter-relationship between structure, electronic and magnetic properties. The aim of this project is to investigate variations in the crystal structure in a number of magnetic systems and relate these changes to the electronic and magnetic properties of the materials. This would be done by performing x-ray diffraction measurements and computational modelling. The balance between can be tailored to the students interests. For example a project could incorporate experimental and computational work or all computational. I am happy to discuss the various options.

Entanglement Phenomena in Quantum Magnets (Dr Jorge Quintanilla)
Entanglement is one of the defining features of quantum theory and also one of the most puzzling. The results of measurements carried out on two objects are correlated even when the objects are separated by large distances (so even light would not be able to travel between the objects in time to transmit a signal). This correlation exists even when the measured properties themselves are entirely undetermined before the measurement. Although most experimental information about entanglement has been obtained using carefully-prepared states of individual particles, e.g. photons, we believe that the individual magnetic moments of atoms in quantum magnets are also naturally entangled. You will use analytical and computational techniques to predict experimental signatures of entanglement-related phenomena in such systems e.g. in neutron scattering. You will work as part of an international collaboration involving theorists and experimentalists, including the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory's neutron scattering facility.

Unconventional superconductors: New Paradigms for New Materials (Dr Jorge Quintanilla)
Superconductivity is a fascinating phenomenon in which electrons display macroscopic quantum coherence. It has many applications from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to ultra-fast levitating trains (MagLev). There is, however, a growing number of so-called "unconventional superconductors" with many puzzling and potentially useful properties which do not fit existing theories. In this project we will investigate such materials using theoretical and computational techniques. You will become a member of the EPSRC-funded collaboration "Unconventional Superconductors: New Paradigms for New Materials", working as part of an international team of theorists and also in close contact with some of the top experimental groups in this rapidly-growing field.

Designing Frameworks with Advanced Magnetic and Electronic Functions (Dr Paul Saines)
Modern technologies need compounds that respond to electric or magnetic signals with more advanced function than conventional materials. This includes relaxor ferroelectrics, which enable improved precision motors and ultrasound devices through their high susceptibility to polarisation, and multiferroics, in which ferroelectric and magnetic properties can couple, promising great advances in computer memory density. Recently Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs), in which cations are connected by an organic ligand into an extended structure, have attracted great attention for their ability to exhibit such functional properties by new routes. Projects are available in the Saines group examining the smart design of functional frameworks with greatly improved properties through an understanding of how these properties arise from their atomic structure, with the balance of focus on synthesis of new compounds and materials characterisation flexible to meet a student's interests.

Ionic Conducting Frameworks for "Green" Energy Applications (Dr Paul Saines)
The need to develop improved clean energy technologies to minimise the effects of climate change becomes more important every year.  This includes both Li and Na ion batteries and low temperature fuel cells in which energy is generated from the efficient reaction of hydrogen and oxygen to make water. Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs), in which cations are connected by an organic ligand into an extended structure, have recently shown tremendous promise as a new class of ionic conducting materials for these applications because of their ability to incorporate functional groups in their organic ligands and their significant porosity. Projects are available creating new ionic-conducting MOFs through a microscopic understanding of the link between atomic structure and physical properties, with the balance between making new compounds and materials characterisation tuneable to meet a student's interests and background.

Although we offer a number of funded research positions, if none of these are suitable for you there are a number of sources for funding. If you are interested in a project from our self-funded projects list or you have your own research in mind that we can support check the links below to see if you are eligible for funding.

University of Kent Scholarships

You can use the Scholarship Finder tool to find a scholarship suitable for you. More general information and advice can be found on our Scholarships page.

External PhD and Masters funding opportunities


A loan scheme is available to UK/EU students for funding Masters degrees. You can see more information here: https://www.kent.ac.uk/scholarships/search/FNADPGLOAN02 (please note, certain criteria applies).

There are a number of institutions that will provide funding to carry out postgraduate studies. Below is a list of examples.

If you are considering applying to any of them, often you will find that the application requires a project and the backing of a higher education institution. Please contact Dr Silvia Ramos-Perez who will be happy to discuss this with you.

There are also a number of countries that offer funding to carry out postgraduate studies in the UK. We recommend you check what sources of funding might be available in your own country. Below is a list of some of those programs.

School of Physical Sciences, Ingram Building, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NH

Enquiries: contact us

Last Updated: 24/05/2018