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Pushing the Resolution Limits of High-Speed Atomic Force Microscopy

PGR-P-836

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Key facts

Type of research degree
PhD
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Project start date
Saturday 1 October 2022
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Funding
Competition funded
Source of funding
Other
Supervisors
Dr George Heath
Schools
School of Physics and Astronomy
Research groups/institutes
Molecular and Nanoscale Physics
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Understanding the structural dynamics of complex molecules is vital to advancing our knowledge of materials, medicine and diseases, yet there are few techniques which can capture motions at high enough speeds or resolution to understand the underlying behaviour. High-Speed atomic force microscopy (HS-AFM) allows us to video, with sub-nanometre resolution, molecules in action at greater than 10 frames per second whilst in liquid environments. However, many important dynamics occur much faster than this, the newly developed height spectroscopy mode of AFM allows motions to be measured at 100,000 times per second. The height spectroscopy method can be applied to study the diffusion of many molecules or the structural dynamics of an individual molecule. The spatial resolution of AFM is limited the by interaction area between the tip and sample. To improve spatial resolution we have taken inspiration from super resolution microscopy methods and developed localization AFM to obtain 4 angstrom resolution on protein surfaces.<br /> <br /> In this PhD you will learn, utilise and develop HS-AFM height spectroscopy and localization AFM techniques with the aim to push past current experimental limits to study molecules including proteins at previously inaccessible time and length scales. To perform these experiments, you will develop new algorithms and analysis methods and apply theory and computation to obtain quantitative information about kinetic behaviour at the single molecule level. You will apply these methods to answer a number of possible biophysical and biomedical questions with researchers across multiple fields including Medicine, Biology, Physics and Chemistry.<br />

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

<p>References:<br /> 1. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;Heath, G. R., Kots, E., Robertson, J. L., Lansky, S., Khelashvili, G., Weinstein, H., and Scheuring, S. (2021). Localization atomic force microscopy. Nature, 594(7863), 385-390.<br /> 2.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Heath, G. R., and Scheuring, S. (2018). High-speed AFM height spectroscopy reveals &micro;s-dynamics of unlabeled biomolecules. Nature communications, 9(1), 1-11.</p>

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

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.leeds.ac.uk/research-applying/doc/applying-research-degrees">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in Planned Course of Stusy section that you are applying for <em><strong>PHD Physics &amp; Astronomy FT</strong></em> and&nbsp;in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is <em><strong>Pushing the Speed Limits of High-Speed Atomic Force Microscopy</strong></em>&nbsp;as well as&nbsp;<a href="https://eps.leeds.ac.uk/physics/staff/6132/dr-george-heath">Dr&nbsp;George Heath</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>&nbsp;</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><strong>Self-Funded or externally sponsored students are welcome to apply.</strong></p> <p><strong>UK</strong>&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/209-leeds-doctoral-scholarships-2022">Leeds Doctoral Scholarships</a>&nbsp;(Deadline: 11/01/2022),&nbsp;<a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/198-akroyd-and-brown-scholarship-2022">Akroyd &amp; Brown</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/199-frank-parkinson-scholarship-2022">Frank Parkinson</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/204-boothman-reynolds-and-smithells-scholarship-2022">Boothman, Reynolds &amp; Smithells</a>&nbsp;(Deadline: 01/06/2022)&nbsp;are available to UK applicants. The&nbsp;<a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/102-bell-burnell-scholarship-award-awarded-by-the-iop">Bell Burnell Scholarship Award</a>&nbsp;(Deadline:&nbsp; 08/12/2022)&nbsp;is available to support applicants who are from groups that are currently under-represented in physics (awarded by the IOP).&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/60-alumni-bursary">Alumni Bursary</a>&nbsp;is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p><strong>Non-UK</strong>&nbsp;&ndash; The&nbsp;<a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/63-school-of-physics-astronomy-partial-fee-only-scholarship">School of Physics &amp; Astronomy Partial Fee Scholarship&nbsp;</a>is available to support the additional academic fees of Non-UK applicants.&nbsp; The&nbsp;<a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/102-bell-burnell-scholarship-award-awarded-by-the-iop">Bell Burnell Scholarship Award</a>&nbsp;(Deadline:&nbsp; 08/12/2022)&nbsp;is available to support applicants who are from groups that are currently under-represented in physics (awarded by the IOP).&nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/48-china-scholarship-council-university-of-leeds-scholarships-2021">China Scholarship Council - University of Leeds Scholarship</a>&nbsp;(Deadline: 05/01/2022)&nbsp;is available to nationals of China. The&nbsp;<a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/73-leeds-marshall-scholarship">Leeds Marshall Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to support US citizens.&nbsp;<a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/60-alumni-bursary">Alumni Bursary</a>&nbsp;is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p>

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

<p>For further information on the project do not hesitate to contact any of the project supervisors by email (e.g. George Heath at&nbsp;<a href="mailto:p.g.adams@leeds.ac.uk">g.r.heath@leeds.ac.uk</a>). We are always happy to discuss scientific questions with pro-active candidates. For details on how to apply and admin arrangements, please contact Doctoral College Admissions by email:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:EMAIL@leeds.ac.uk">m</a><a href="mailto:maps.pgr.admissions@leeds.ac.uk">aps.pgr.admissions@leeds.ac.uk</a>, or by telephone: +44 (0)113 343 5057</p>


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