PhD project: Sustainable self-assembly of colloidal crystals for photonic or energy-storage applications

Project description

Colloidal crystals are regular arrangements of colloidal, micron-sized particles. They have (potential) applications in a wide range of areas including photonics, sensing and energy storage. Colloidal crystals can be fabricated through either top-down (lithographic) or bottom-up (self-assembly) processes. The self-assembly route is particularly appealing, as it promises low cost, simple fabrication processes with genuine potential for scale-up. However, in order to scale up colloidal crystal fabrication for real-world applications, the required self-assembly process should be sustainable, for example using sustainable materials and/or avoiding sacrificial scaffolds.

In this project, you will develop self-assembly routes for colloidal crystals using sustainable materials and processes. Samples will be structurally characterized using a combination of electron microscopy and (light) scattering. Moreover, depending on whether the envisaged application is photonics or battery storage, samples will also be characterized using an optical spectroscope or a potentiostat. There may be opportunities to collaborate with colleagues in the School of Mathematics and the Edinburgh soft matter physics group on machine learning approaches to multi-objective materials design; after all, there may be trade-offs between device performance and sustainability. There may also be opportunities to collaborate with electrochemists and with colleagues in the Edinburgh soft-matter physics group on DNA-mediated self-assembly.

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