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PhD Position Available Immediately

Fluorescence Studies of Protein Interactions

The project will involve using optical techniques to study the interactions of proteins, a process which lies at the heart of biological processes. Steady state, time-resolved and single molecule fluorescence techniques will be used to develop a better understanding of the aggreagation of amyloid, which is an important step in the development of Alzheimer's disease.

Ying examining a spin cast polymer film on a substrate

Research Studentships

EPSRC funded research studentships are available in the following areas:

Organic Light-emitting Diodes

Visible light emission can be stimulated by applying a voltage to a thin layer of an organic semiconductor. The light emitted provides a window on the physics of the material, enabling us to learn about the nature of the excited states in the material. It is also useful for information display, lighting, and even for the treatment of skin cancer. We have developed a new class of light-emitting organic semiconductor, which could be used for high efficiency lighting, thereby reducing energy consumption.

Organic Solar Cells

The energy crisis is probably the most important problem facing the world today. Sunlight is the most abundant renewable energy source, but at present the cost of photovoltaics is too high for solar cells to be a serious alternative to fossil fuels. Organic semiconductors offer the prospect of low cost solar cells, but their efficiency needs improvement. We are working on new measurements to understand organic solar cell operation, and new materials to improve it.

Organic Lasers and Optical Amplifiers

We have demonstrated that organic semiconductors can make high gain optical amplifiers. Optical amplifiers are widely used to compensate transmission and splitting losses, and organic semiconductors have excellent compatibility with plastic optical fibre. We wish to explore the dynamics of organic lasers and amplifiers using a state of the art femtosecond laser facility. By understanding how current materials and devices work, we aim to develop a new generation of devices capable of, for example, all-optical switching.

Ultrafast Spectroscopy of Light-emitting Polymers and Lasers

Light emitting polymers are promising candidates for lasers and optical amplifiers. This project will use a new state of the art tuneable femtosecond laser system to study light amplification and lasing in these materials. It will involve measurements on the remarkably short timescale of 100 fs - a time so short that light travels only 30 µm in it. The research forms part of the Ultrafast Photonics Collaboration which is an exciting project exploring new physics for ultrafast data communications

Light-emitting Dendrimers

Light emitting dendrimers are a new class of material for organic light-emitting diodes. Their unique molecular architecture gives scope to tune their electronic and processing properties. This project will investigate the physics of these materials using a combination of measurements of light emission and charge transport. The results will guide the development of improved light-emitting dendrimers. The research will be carried out in collaboration with Dr P.L. Burn at the University of Oxford.

Polymer Photophysics

This project aims to use a range of optical spectroscopies to understand the light-emission process in conjugated polymers. Using a combination of measurements of luminescence efficiency and time-dependence, the nature of the excited state responsible for light emission will be determined. This will enable us to develop an understanding of how the light emission process relates to the structure of materials, and so guide the design of materials with improved properties.

Single-Molecule Fluorescence Microscopy

In only a few years since its first observation, single-molecule fluorescence microscopy has evolved to a new frontier in science, with high impact and potential for a wide range of disciplines, such as material research, analytical chemistry and biological sciences. The possibility of tracking the motion and behaviour of individual molecules as they are excited by a laser beam has become a powerful tool that is revolutionising our knowledge about how proteins and other biomolecules work. On the other hand, DNA repair is a cellular mechanism to correct damage to DNA before it can become fixed as a mutation or chromosomal aberration. Therefore, understanding the molecular mechanism of DNA damage and repair is important for reducing the risk of cancer, as well as developing more effective cancer therapies. In this project we want to apply state-of-the-art single-molecule fluorescence techniques to study the Nucleotide Excision Repair (NER) pathway. Defects in NER are associated with three inherited human diseases – Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP), Trichothipdystrophy (TTD) and Cockayne Syndrome (CS) – all of which have severe clinical consequences. This project is a collaboration between the School of Physics and Astronomy and the Biomolecular Science Centre at St Andrews and will provide the student with a strong expertise in the application of cutting-edge microscopy techniques to very important biological problems.