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Ultra responsive polar liquid crystal devices


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Competition funded
Source of funding
Dr Richard Mandle
School of Chemistry, School of Physics and Astronomy
Research groups/institutes
Soft Matter Physics
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Nematic liquid crystals (NLC) are commonplace in our lives owing to their widespread use in display technology. The NLC 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, meaning that the bulk nematic phase is 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]. <br /> <br /> This project is experimental in nature, with potential for supporting experimental work with modelling and simulations as required. This project will use recently developed polar and ferroelectric liquid crystals, both nematic and smectic, as the basis for fast low-power optoelectronic devices. You will work with novel NF materials and additives developed at the University of Leeds, measure physical properties, perform molecular dynamics simulations, analyse data, and build an understanding of the physics of the NF phase in optoelectronic devices. This project is most suited to candidates with a background in Physics, Physical 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 (

<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 FT</strong></em> and in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is <em><strong>Ultra responsive polar liquid crystal devices</strong></em> as well as&nbsp;<a href="">Dr. Richard Mandle</a> 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><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p>

<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) (open from October 2023).&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="">School of Physics &amp; Astronomy Partial Fee Scholarship&nbsp;</a>is available to support the additional academic fees of Non-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; &nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="">China Scholarship Council - University of Leeds Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to nationals of China (open from October 2023). 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>Important:&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>

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

<p>For further information about this project, please contact Dr Richard Mandle<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> <p>For further information about your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> <table summary="Faculty of Engineering graduate school contacts"> <tbody> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p>

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