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Biophotonic nanomaterials: developing new quantum dots and biomolecules towards a more complete use of the solar spectrum


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Friday 28 June 2024
Project start date
Tuesday 1 October 2024
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Competition funded
Source of funding
University of Leeds
Dr Peter Adams and Dr Kevin Critchley
School of Physics and Astronomy
Research groups/institutes
Molecular and Nanoscale Physics
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Plants and other biological systems are a source of inspiration for nanotechnology and solar energy research because the early stages of photosynthesis have high quantum efficiency. Light-harvesting proteins (LHPs) from plants are highly effective at absorbing blue and red light, however, they absorb poorly in other spectral regions. In contrast, quantum dots (QDs) are tiny semiconductor nanoparticles, which are very stable, can absorb photons over a much wider spectral range than LHPs. We need to develop novel methods to link QDs to LHPs and enable energy transfer to extend the LHP spectral range and form novel nanocomposite materials.<br /> <br /> In this project, we will synthesize new types of QDs and new link them to bio-membranes and proteins in new ways, to produce a &ldquo;bio-hybrid&rdquo; nanomaterial that is more effective at absorbing solar energy. The objectives are: (1) to synthesise QDs where size and surface chemistry are varied to be optimal for the system, (2) to generate specialized biomembranes that contain attachment sites for the QDs, (3) to attach the LHP directly to the QDs with novel linker molecules. You will work with experts in microscopy and spectroscopy to characterize the structural and photophysical properties of this biohybrid system using advanced microscopy and spectroscopy tools to elucidate the energy transfer pathways. This research will be relevant to the nanotechnology industry and could lead to new photovoltaics and biosensors.<br /> <br /> This project would suit a student interested in nanotechnology, biophysics or chemistry.

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

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the Planned Course of Study section that you are applying for&nbsp;<strong><em>PhD Physics &amp; Astronomy FT,</em></strong>&nbsp;in the research information section&nbsp;that the research project you wish to be considered for is <em><strong>Biophotonic nanomaterials: developing new quantum dots and biomolecules towards a more complete use of the solar spectrum</strong></em>&nbsp;as well as&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">Dr Peter Adams</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">Dr Kevin Critchley</a>&nbsp;as your proposed supervisors&nbsp;and in the finance section, please state clearly&nbsp;<em><strong>the funding that you are applying for, if you are self-funding or externally sponsored</strong></em>.</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> <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. 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 in support of your application by the closing date of 3 April 2024 for Leeds Opportunity Research Scholarship or&nbsp;8 April 2024 for Leeds Doctoral Scholarship:</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> </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 lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><strong>UK&nbsp;</strong>&ndash; the&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Doctoral Scholarship Award</a>&nbsp;paying Academic Fees and Maintenance matching UKRI rate of &pound;18,622&nbsp;(for 23/24) per year for 3.5 years;&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Opportunity Scholarships</a>&nbsp;(for applicants from Black, Asian and other minoritised ethnic groups) paying Academic Fees and Maintenance UKRI rate of &pound;18,622 per year for 3.5 years; the&nbsp;<a href="">Alumni Bursary</a>&nbsp;is available to previous University of Leeds graduates offering 10% discount on Academic Fees. Please contact the supervisors for advice on applying.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><strong>International Students</strong>&nbsp;&ndash; The&nbsp;<a href="">Alumni Bursary</a>&nbsp;is available to previous University of Leeds graduates offering 10% discount on Academic Fees. Please contact the supervisors for advice on applying.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US"><strong>Self-funded students and externally sponsored students (e.g., government scholarships) are also welcome to apply.&nbsp;&nbsp;</strong></p>

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

<p lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US">For further information about this project, please contact Dr Peter Adams by email to&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank"></a>&nbsp;or by telephone to&nbsp;+44 (0)113 343 9718.&nbsp;</p> <p lang="EN-US" xml:lang="EN-US">For further information about your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions by email to&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank"></a></p>

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