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Soft Matter Physics


Expertise of research area
analytical science; biopolymers; colloids; devices; Li+ batteries; liquid crystal elastomers; liquid crystals; polymers; quantum technologies; self-assembly; soft matter physics; topological defects and containment

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Research within the Soft Matter Group at Leeds is primarily experimental with an equal focus on fundamental and applied aspects. We are interested in a wide range of different soft matter materials, including liquid crystals, polymers, biopolymers, glasses, and colloids.

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

<p>The <a href="">Soft Matter Physics</a> group studies the physics of a wide range of soft matter systems; often in close collaboration with industry. As a postgraduate researcher in SMP, you will have access to superb experimental facilities that enable deep and detailed characterisation of all soft matter systems, supported by first-class workshops. Our laboratories include a device prototyping facility (with photolithography, nano-imprint lithography and Direct Write Laser lithography) and access to full characterization facilities (microscopy, light scattering, dielectrics, calorimetry, rheology, NMR, electron microscopy and AFM).</p> <p>We have strong links with the <a href="">Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology</a> and the <a href="">Bragg Centre for Materials Research</a>.</p> <p>Our postgraduate researchers explore cutting-edge problems in a variety of soft matter systems; all are encouraged to presenting their work at national and international conferences and to publish their work in leading journals. We explore the fundamental properties of novel soft matter systems and their impact on the bulk properties, inventing new kinds of materials and devices. Recent highlights include:</p> <ul> <li>The discovery of the first synthetic molecular auxetic system (with negative Poisson&rsquo;s ratio) in a liquid crystal elastomer.&nbsp;</li> <li>Understanding self-assembly in novel colloidal and liquid crystal systems.</li> <li>Inventing novel polarisation independent switchable lenses and other optical structures for the control of light.</li> <li>Discovering sustainable polymer composites by understanding cellulose/ionic liquid mixtures.</li> <li>Understanding diffusion and transport in polymer systems for battery technologies.</li> <li>Development of a new approach to understanding and predicting the properties of polymeric glass-formers.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>Much of our work is supported by industry and international collaborators, so postgraduate researchers benefit from seeing first-hand how fundamental research might be translated into applications. This is exemplified by our close contact with industry and industrial related projects. Our postgraduate researchers are also encouraged to visit international laboratories to work with collaborators (including in Japan, Europe and the USA), or international facilities (eg, neutron or x-ray scattering), further enhancing their training and to present their work at international conferences.</p> <p>We are active members in the <a href="">SOFI CDT</a>.</p> <h5>Why do your PhD at Leeds?&nbsp;</h5> <p><strong>96% of our research is world-leading (REF 2021)&nbsp;</strong><br /> At Leeds, our research addresses the most prevalent real-world challenges &ndash; providing solutions that have had both a national and global impact.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>Study in an active research environment&nbsp;</strong><br /> Studying your PhD with us means you&rsquo;ll be working in a professional research environment, using UK-leading facilities to bring your project to life &ndash; alongside active researchers who are at the forefront of their area.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>A strong network of support &nbsp;</strong><br /> The Leeds Doctoral College connects our community of researchers and can offer you the guidance, services and opportunities you&rsquo;ll need to get the most out of your PhD.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>Close industry links&nbsp;</strong><br /> Our partnerships and links to companies and academic institutions give you the opportunity to network at industry talks, seminars and conferences, building connections that&#39;ll benefit your next steps after you complete your PhD.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>Professional skills development &nbsp;</strong><br /> We think of the whole picture at Leeds. That&rsquo;s why we offer a range of workshops and courses that&#39;ll enhance your skillset further and transfer into your professional career.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>Personal and wellbeing services&nbsp;</strong><br /> Mental health and wellbeing support are integral to who we are at Leeds and you&rsquo;ll have access to the full range of services we offer to ensure you&rsquo;re feeling your best &ndash; and reaching your potential in your studies.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>Join our global community&nbsp;</strong><br /> We welcome students, researchers, academics, partners and alumni from more than 140 countries, all over the world. This means, as a university, we&rsquo;re bringing together different cultures and perspectives which helps strengthen our research &ndash; and societal impact.</p> <h3>Useful links and further reading:</h3> <ul> <li><a href="">Research degrees within the School of Physics and Astronomy</a></li> <li><a href="">Soft Matter Physics</a><a href=""> group</a></li> <li><a href="">School of Physics and Astronomy, Research&nbsp;and Innovation</a>&nbsp;&ndash; 90% of research activity&nbsp;is &lsquo;world-leading&rsquo; or &lsquo;internationally excellent, latest Research Excellence Framework</li> </ul> <h3>Leeds Doctoral College</h3> <p>Our <a href="">Doctoral College</a> supports you throughout your postgraduate research journey. It brings together all the support services and opportunities to enhance your research, your development, and your overall experience.</p>

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

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the <a href="">University&#39;s website</a>.</p>

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

<p>For general enquiries and details regarding the application process, please contact the Graduate School Office:<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a>, t: 44 (0)113 343 5057.</p>

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<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Linked funding opportunities</h2>