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Developing a tuneable ferroelectric nematic materials platform


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Project start date
Monday 3 October 2022
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Source of funding
University of Leeds
Dr Richard Mandle
School of Physics and Astronomy
Research groups/institutes
Soft Matter Physics
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Nematic liquid crystals are ubiquitous in our lives; we encounter them constantly thanks to their widespread use in display technology. The nematic liquid crystal state is characterised by the constituent molecules being oriented, on average, along some direction termed the director. Even when formed from polar molecules, there is no preference for pointing &ldquo;up&rdquo; or &ldquo;down&rdquo; along this direction and so the bulk nematic phase is typically apolar. <br /> <br /> Over a century ago, Max Born [1] speculated that a polar nematic fluid would exist if the molecular electric dipole moments are large enough that dipole-dipole interactions between molecules are sufficient to overcome thermal fluctuations. The push to develop apolar nematic liquid crystals in display technology, coupled with the absence of experimental proof of the existence of polar nematic phases, meant that Born&rsquo;s conjecture was largely forgotten. <br /> <br /> In 2017 two materials were reported - RM734 [2] and DIO [3]&ndash; that are now understood to have polar nematic order and are ferroelectric, over a century after Born&rsquo;s conjecture [4-6]. This so-called ferroelectric nematic (NF) phase displays a host of unique properties that cannot be easily replicated by other fluid systems: ferroelectricity [5], polar domains [7], strong non-linear optical response [7], unique electrooptics [8], to name a few [9]. However, realizing these properties requires an improvement in materials and our understanding of how formulation relates to bulk properties.<br /> <br /> This project is experimental in nature, with potential for supporting experimental work with modelling and simulations as required. This project will deliver an NF materials platform that enables any property of interest to be tuned, and thus will become the &lsquo;standard&rsquo; material used in the field for the coming years. You will work with novel NF materials developed at the University of Leeds, formulate multi-component mixtures, measure physical properties, analyse data, and build an understanding of the physics of the NF phase. This project is most suited to candidates with a background in Physics, Chemistry or Materials Science.<br /> <br /> If you are interested in this project, and would like to find out more about the research topic or the PhD program at the University of Leeds, then please contact Dr Richard Mandle (<br />

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p style="margin-bottom:11px">1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; M. Born, Sitzungsber. Preuss. Akad Wiss., 1916, 30, 614-650.</p> <p>2.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; R. J. Mandle et al., Chem. Eur. J., 2017, 23, 14554-14562.</p> <p>3.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; H. Nishikawa et al., Adv Mater, 2017, 29,&nbsp;1702354</p> <p>4.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; A. Mertelj et al., Phys Rev X, 2018, 8,&nbsp;041025</p> <p>5.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; X. Chen et al., PNAS, 2020, 117, 14021-14031.</p> <p>6.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; R. J. Mandle et al., Nat Commun, 2021, 12, 4962.</p> <p>7.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; N. Sebastian et al., Phys Rev Lett, 2020, 124, 037801.</p> <p>8.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; C. L. Folcia et al., Liq Cryst, 2022,&nbsp;advance article</p> <p>9.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; N. Sebastian et al.,, Liq Cryst, 2022,&nbsp;advance article</p> <p style="margin-bottom:11px">&nbsp;</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the Planned Course of Study section that you are applying for <em><strong>PHD Physics &amp; Astronomy</strong></em> and in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is&nbsp;<strong><em>Developing a tuneable ferroelectric nematic materials platform</em></strong>&nbsp;as well as&nbsp;<strong>Dr Richard Mandle</strong> as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">Applications will be considered on an ongoing basis. &nbsp;Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the supervisors for an informal discussion before making a formal application. &nbsp;We also advise that you apply at the earliest opportunity as the application and selection process may close early, should we receive a sufficient number of applications or that a suitable candidate is appointed.</p> <p>Please note that you must provide the following documents at the point you submit your application:</p> <ul> <li>Full Transcripts of all degree study or if in final year of study, full transcripts to date</li> <li>Personal Statement outlining your interest in the project</li> <li>CV</li> <li>Funding information including any alternative sources of funding that you are applying for or if you are able to pay your own fees and maintenance</li> </ul>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p style="margin-bottom:12px"><strong>Self-Funded or externally sponsored students are welcome to apply.</strong></p> <p><strong>UK</strong>&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Doctoral Scholarships</a> and <a href="">Leeds Opportunity Research Scholarship</a> are available to UK applicants. The&nbsp;<a href="">Bell Burnell Scholarship Award</a>&nbsp;is available to support applicants who are from groups that are currently under-represented in physics (awarded by the IOP).&nbsp; <a href="">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p><strong>Non-UK</strong> &ndash; The&nbsp;<a href="">Bell Burnell Scholarship Award</a>&nbsp;is available to support applicants who are from groups that are currently under-represented in physics (awarded by the IOP).&nbsp; &nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="">China Scholarship Council - University of Leeds Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to nationals of China. The&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Marshall Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to support US citizens. <a href="">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p><strong>Important:</strong>&nbsp; Any costs associated with your arrival at the University of Leeds to start your PhD including flights, immigration health surcharge/medical insurance and Visa costs are not covered under this studentship.</p> <p>Please refer to the <a href="">UKCISA</a> website for information regarding Fee Status for Non-UK Nationals.</p> <p><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;,serif"><span style="font-size:11.0pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif">&nbsp;</span></span></span></span></p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information regarding your&nbsp;application,&nbsp;please contact Doctoral College Admissions by&nbsp;email:&nbsp;<a href=""></a>, or by telephone: +44 (0)113 343 5057.</p> <p>For further information about this project,&nbsp;please contact Dr Richard Mandle: e: <a href=""></a></p>

<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked research areas</h3>