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PhD scholarships

PhD student Omid Taheri working on MOFs with Professor Shane Telfer

PhD student Omid Taheri working on MOFs with Professor Shane Telfer. Omid and Shane had a major research breakthrough in 2018, discovering a MOF that is very efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide.

The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology is extremely proud to be New Zealand’s premier research organisation in materials science and nanotechnology. At times, PhD studentships are available in our research areas and partnership institutions.

Successful candidates will become members of the MacDiarmid Institute, and given exciting collaborative opportunities and a thriving environment within which to work.

Our alumni are working all over New Zealand and the world in many different fields and are having real impact. As a MacDiarmid Institute PhD student you will be encouraged and financially supported to take advantage of the many opportunities we provide to broaden your experience and skills.

Activities available for PhD scholarship students include:

  • 3-6 month industry internships
  • Annual multi-day workshops on specialist topics such as communication, commercialisation and leadership
  • Intensive annual multi-day bootcamps (held in remote and beautiful locations) where experts share their knowledge in an important current research area
  • Outreach events, working with school teachers or children
  • Membership of the MacDiarmid Emerging Scientists Association (MESA), run by students and postdocs, which organises additional activities.

Each scholarship is worth NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees.

Catalytic Architectures - Towards Zero Carbon

New Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) for gas capture and separation

New metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) will be prepared and investigated for their ability to adsorb gases of interest, especially carbon dioxide. The project will involve synthetic chemistry (making MOFs) and using tools such as X-ray diffraction to understand their structures. Then, their spore spaces will be used to capture gases and those that display preferential uptake will be used for gas separations.

Eligibility

A person with experience in an experimental science who has a passion to explore new porous materials. Specific skills are nor required but the successful candidate will be curious, motivated and enthusiastic. A science degree equivalent to the 4-year BSc (Honours) degree in New Zealand, with 1st class Honours, or an MSc or postgraduate Diploma. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at Massey University.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Shane TelferS.Telfer@massey.ac.nz with “New MOFs for gas capture and separation” in the subject line.


Hybrid Ultramicroporous Metal-organic Framework Physisorbents for Selective Gas Capture

State-of-the-art Hybrid Ultramicroporous Metal-organic Framework (HUM-MOFs) physisorbents are faced with many demands:

(i) selectivity in binding specific gases over ‘competing’ gases;
(ii) binding target gases with fast kinetics and high capacity, and;
(iii) retaining optimal performance and chemical, mechanical, thermal, and/or hydrolytic stability over repetitive cycling.

Satisfying these requirements lies at the heart of the current project. We will grow a set of high-performance materials by following the principles of reticular synthesis and optimise their gas binding metrics. We will achieve this by spatially engineering their pore spaces, by specifically:

(a) varying the organic linker to include many tailored molecules carefully designed and synthesized;
(b) varying the inorganic pillars, and;
(c) using various M(II) metal ions in the self-assembly step. Next, we will:
(d) fully characterise the textural properties of these new materials, and;
(e) screen their gas sorption capability and selectivity across a series of commodity gases. Once lead candidates are found we will:
(f) benchmark them against state-of-the-art physisorbents for demanding separations, especially CO2 capture.

Eligibility

B.Sc. (Hons) graduate in chemistry with strong organic and inorganic synthetic ability. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Canterbury.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Paul Krugerpaul.kruger@canterbury.ac.nz with “Hybrid Ultramicroporous Metal-organic Framework Physisorbents for Selective Gas Capture” in the subject line. 


Porous metal-organic framework nanocrystals and nanomaterials for carbon capture

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are porous materials with exceptionally large surface areas and significant potential to be utilised for CO2 capture, separation, storage and conversion as a means of reducing CO2 emissions. Further, nanoscale MOFs (nMOFs) can exhibit superior features compared to their bulk counterparts, such as colloidal stability, increased surface area, greater loading capacities and enhanced guest molecule diffusion kinetics. Still in the early stages of development, however, the underlying mechanism governing the properties and behaviours of nanoscale MOFs remains poorly understood.

The aim of the project is to fabricate nMOFs through new colloidal-based techniques to study nanocrystal formation, growth and structure, and investigate cooperative phenomena in new and known framework structures. We will then utilise this knowledge for the rational design and development of stable nMOFs with optimum properties for carbon capture applications. The project will involve performing microemulsion synthesis and materials characterisation, including cutting-edge microcrystal electron diffraction techniques, as well as quantifying CO2 gas uptake and binding within the nMOFs through both experimental and computational methods.

Eligibility

B.Sc. Honours or M.Sc. degree (or equivalent) in chemistry, materials science or similar. Knowledge and experience in colloidal and surface chemistry techniques, nanoparticle synthesis and related characterisation techniques, and/or synthesis and characterisation of metal-organic frameworks would be an advantage. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Otago.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Associate Professor Carla Meledandricmeledandri@chemistry.otago.ac.nz with “Porous metal-organic framework nanocrystals and nanomaterials for carbon capture” in the subject line.


Rigid ligand architectures for CO2 reduction catalysts

New molecular catalysts for the reduction of CO2 will be rationally designed and synthesised allowing structure-property relationships to be developed, and catalytic activity optimised. Single metal atom reaction sites will be key focus with ligand design utilising rigid aromatic backbone architectures, thus providing good control over the metal coordination geometry and the placement of neighbouring functionalities, along with the tuning of electronic and steric parameters. The design will consider options to incorporate the molecular catalysts within porous frameworks though covalent or supramolecular approaches.

Eligibility

The candidate should have a good knowledge of organic chemistry and organometallic/coordination chemistry in the context of catalysis. Organic synthesis with unsaturated/aromatic building blocks will be a major component of the project. Familiarity with handling chemicals in an inert atmosphere, along with routine molecular characterisation techniques such as NMR and MS, is essential. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Otago.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Associate Professor Nigel Lucasnigel.lucas@otago.ac.nz with “Rigid ligand architectures for CO2 reduction catalysts” in the subject line.


Design, synthesis and testing of carbon dioxide reduction electrocatalysts

A family of new coordination complexes of polydentate ligands will be designed based on the results obtained for related systems studied in our group, looking to optimise performance for electrocatalytic carbon dioxide reduction. Key parameters to be optimised include activity (TOF), lifetime (TON), Eapplied, and selectivity. The last of these parameters is where molecular catalysts have an advantage, and it is a key issue in CO2RR, as there is a vast array of possible products. The student will then carry out the multi-step organic synthesis of the ligands, complex them, characterise the complexes (CHN, ESI-MS, NMR, SXRD, CV etc), and then test them for electrocatalytic CO2RR, with the results informing further refinements of the design.

Eligibility

Some experience, skill and interest in organic synthesis and synthetic coordination chemistry is key, as the complexes have to be made and purified before they can be tested for CO2RR. Experience of standard characterisation methods would be helpful. Some knowledge of electrochemistry and/or electrocatalysis would be beneficial but is not essential. Ability to draft reports, and finish things off in a timely fashion, are also important, as is proven ability to work well in a team. A wide range of skills will be developed during the course of this project. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Otago.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Sally Brookersbrooker@chemistry.otago.ac.nz,  with “Design, synthesis and testing of carbon dioxide reduction electrocatalysts” in the subject line.


Computational modelling of nanocatalysts for CO2 reduction

The electroreduction of CO2 to hydrocarbon and alcohols (HCA) represents an appealing process for creating carbon-neutral fuels. Presently, copper metal is unique among pure metal electrodes in being able to produce appreciable yields of HCAs. However, the rate of reduction, as well as product selectivity, are not presently high enough for widespread use. Nanostructuring the copper catalysts can offer unique active sites that can potentially improve the rate and selectivity. Computational studies can help in finding unique nanoparticle structures as well as elucidating atomic-scale mechanisms. In this project, we will use in-house global optimisation algorithms, together with established electronic structure codes to study the mechanisms of CO2 reduction on Cu nanocatalysts.

Eligibility

The ideal candidate has a M.Sc. (or equivalent) in chemistry, physics, materials science or engineering, preferably using computational methods. Previous experience with VASP, ASE and Python is desired, as is familiarity with a Unix environment. All genders are encouraged to apply. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Otago.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Dr Anna Gardenanna.garden@otago.ac.nz  with “Computational modelling of nanocatalysts for CO2 reduction” in the subject line.


Novel Catalysts for Photothermal CO2 Reduction

This PhD project seeks to develop supported metal nanoparticle catalysts capable of driving CO2 hydrogenation to C2+ hydrocarbons under concentrated sunlight. These catalysts will absorb strongly at UV-Vis-NIR wavelengths, resulting in catalyst heating to several hundred degrees (i.e. into the temperature range where thermal Fischer-Tropsch reactions occur). The project will target the synthesis of high-value light alkanes and olefins.

Eligibility

This PhD project will be conducted in collaboration with the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry (TIPC), Chinese Academy of Sciences (Beijing). The ideal candidate will have an Honours or Masters degree in Materials Chemistry, Nanochemistry or Chemical and Materials Engineering, along with experience in the fabrication and characterization of nanomaterials. In addition, fluency in Mandarin is preferred, since the candidate is expected to spend up to 1 year of their PhD working in the TIPC (Beijing). Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Auckland.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Associate Professor Geoff Waterhouse, g.waterhouse@auckland.ac.nz  with “Novel Catalysts for Photothermal CO2 Reduction” in the subject line.


Formation of high value chemical feedstocks by catalytic conversion of CO2

In combination with carbon capture and storage, catalytic CO2 conversion is an emerging technology with a strong potential to ease the environmental effects of greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously producing higher value chemical feedstocks. Industrial CO2 hydrogenation processes, despite being well established and selective towards longer chain hydrocarbons, are thermal catalytic processes requiring high temperature and pressure conditions. In this project, we focus on the development of photothermal and photocatalytic materials for CO2 hydrogenation – materials which are capable of effectively harnessing the vast amounts of solar energy interacting with the Earth’s surface for chemical conversion processes.

The project will involve both fundamental and applied studies relating to catalytic reduction of CO2. This includes; fabrication and theoretical/synchrotron-based experimental evaluation of surface catalytic process on model single crystal surfaces; the translation of the optimised catalytic materials into polycrystalline nano-catalytic architectures along with performance evaluation in novel CO2 hydrogenation reactors. This multifaceted project will be co-developed with (inter)-national academic collaborators in New Zealand, Europe and the USA, along with NZ-based industrial partners.

Eligibility

The Ph.D. candidate needs to hold a masters, or relevant post-graduate degree, ideally in the fields of physical chemistry/materials science or chemical engineering. A background in the development of heterogeneous catalysts via empirical processes is preferred, however, not required. The student should be proficient in the English language as they will be expected to communicate their results in peer-reviewed journals and at international conferences. 

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Dr John Kennedy, J.kennedy@gns.cri.nz with “Formation of high value chemical feedstocks by catalytic conversion of CO2” in the subject line.


Ultrafast optical spectroscopy of exciton and charge transport in porous materials

Photo- and electroactive framework materials are promising catalytic artchitectures in which light and electricity is delivered to catalytic sites distributed throughout a porous frameworks. In this project, we will develop and apply ultrafast optical spectroscopy experiments to explore the limits of exciton and charge transport in these framework materials. Such materials feature well-defined and systematically tuned crystalline structures, with control over coupling between redox and chromophore units. In this project, we will explore structure-function relations by measuring exciton and charge diffusion coefficients using ultrafast optical spectroscopy, adapting methods we have pioneered for thin films, along with a novel time-domain single shot THz spectrometer for optical measurement of charge mobility.

Eligibility

This project is suited to a candidate with a strong background in either physical chemistry or experimental physics. The candidate will be confident working with advanced optical equipment, have strong analytical and computational skills, and collaborate well with synthetic chemists making the materials. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at the Victoria University of Wellington.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Justin Hodgkiss, justin.hodgkiss@vuw.ac.nz with “Ultrafast optical spectroscopy of exciton and charge transport in porous materials” in the subject line.


Using spectroscopy and computational chemistry to investigate order in catalytic architectures

Use spectroscopic methods to capture information on catalytic systems - this would include their structure and kinetics and the structure of any excited states pertinent to the system of interest. The scope is broad in that we can measure the spectra of short-lived species (nanoseconds) and characterize these using Raman and computational methods - but we can also observe the changes in phone modes via low frequency Raman - we can so this on a sub second timescale - so we could examine catalytic turnover and degradation. Are techniques may be applied to solid structures or solids submerged in liquids. Obviously we can look at films and materials in solution.

Eligibility

This project is suited to a candidate with a curious mind and hard working - reasonable skills in physical chemistry (spectroscopy) and a willingness to learn. Some familiarity with computational methods would be helpful. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Otago.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Keith Gordon, keith.gordon@otago.ac.nz with “Using spectroscopy and computational chemistry to investigate order in catalytic architectures” in the subject line.

 

Part of staying on as an Emeritus Investigator has got to be about contributing back. I definitely see myself as having a role within the broader institute in terms of mentoring younger researchers.

Professor Simon Hall Emeritus Investigator

Future Computing - Towards Low Energy Tech

A Computer Chip That Thinks Like The Brain

A 3-year PhD Scholarship is available to work on brain-like (or “neuromorphic”) computing using films of nanoparticles (or “clusters”). We have recently shown that these complex networks of memristor-like elements have both brain-like structures and strongly correlated brain-like patterns of electrical signals [1-3]. The main research goals of the project are to exploit these signals in order to implement on-chip computational processes such as pattern recognition and time series prediction.

This work builds on fifteen years of experience in building cluster-based electronic devices and is part of a project that has recently been funded by New Zealand’s Marsden Fund and the objectives of the MacDiarmid Institute.

References: 
1. Matthew D. Pike, Saurabh Kumar Bose, Joshua Brian Mallinson, Susant Kumar Acharya, Shota Shirai, Edoardo Galli, Steven J. Weddell, Philip J. Bones, Matthew D. Arnold, and Simon Anthony Brown, 'Atomic scale dynamics drive brain-like avalanches in percolating nanostructured networks', Nano Letters 20, 3935 (2020).
2. S. Shirai, S. K. Acharya, S. K. Bose, J. Mallinson, E. Galli, M. Pike, M. D. Arnold and S. A. Brown, 'Long-range temporal correlations in scale-free neuromorphic networks', Network Neuroscience 4, 432 (2020).
3. J. B. Mallinson, S. Shirai, S. K. Acharya, S. K. Bose, E. Galli & S. A. Brown, 'Avalanches and criticality in self-organised nanoscale networks', Science Advances 5, eaaw8438 (2019). 

For further information go to:
https://www.canterbury.ac.nz/science/schools-and-departments/phys-chem/research/nano/

Eligibility

The successful candidate will have enthusiasm, a good honours or masters degree in physics (or related subject such as electrical engineering), and a desire to work in a multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary, collaborative environment. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Canterbury.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Simon Brownsimon.brown@canterbury.ac.nz with “A Computer Chip That Thinks Like The Brain” in the subject line.


Strongly-scattering media for random lasing and optical computing

In this project, we aim to investigate the use of disordered strongly-scattering materials that support random lasing, for applications in optical computing schemes. We will focus on designing, fabricating, characterising, and studying nanoscale structures that display rich dynamics in their interaction with light, can be connected via input and output channels to patterns of information (spatial and/or temporal). This will involve passive media including random microsphere arrays, lithographic arrays, and micro-porous materials, also mixed with gain media such as dye molecules, quantum dots, and perovskites.

Our aim will be to identify the fundamental relations between structural complexity and performance, for random lasing in the first instance, and then as optical computing media. This project will involve a combination of experimental (optics/spectroscopy) and theoretical (ray tracing modelling) work.

Eligibility

The ideal candidate is physics graduate with a keen interest in experimental optics/spectroscopy and with some computer programming experience. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at the Victoria University of Wellington.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Eric Le Rueric.leru@vuw.ac.nz with “Strongly-scattering media for random lasing and optical computing” in the subject line.


The behaviour of oxygen vacancy channels in Gallium Oxide memristors

Metal oxide semiconductors are one of the contributing technologies for the MacDiarmid Institute’s ‘brain-inspired’ reservoir computing goals. Specifically, metal oxides are one of the most promising materials for use in memristor cross-bar arrays, where the history-dependent conductance of the metal oxide layer provides the synaptic weight in networks between metal oxide semiconductor transistors acting as neutrons. Synaptic plasticity (the fundamental basis of human learning and memory) is mimicked by the creation and reinforcement of oxygen vacancy channels through the metal oxide matrix.

Very excitingly, metal oxide crossbar synapse networks can be scaled to nanoscale dimensions, with very fast switching speeds, and neural network densities approaching those of the brain, especially if materials such as Ga2O3, with its incredibly high breakdown strength, are used. However, the exact nature of the oxygen vacancy channel formation/rupture processes in metal oxides is not well-understood.

This project is focused on obtaining an improved understanding of the formation and dynamics of oxygen vacancies in Ga2O3 (and in other promising ‘synaptic’ metal oxides such as SnO2) so that the stability, endurance, and between-device variations in memristor performance can be dramatically improved.

In this project you will grow a variety of Ga2O3 materials (e.g. via molecular beam epitaxy, pulsed laser deposition, and rf sputtering) suitable for memristor fabrication and use advanced material characterisation techniques (e.g. cathodoluminescence spectroscopy and synchrotron X-ray spectroscopy) to advance our understanding of the behaviour of oxygen vacancies and oxygen vacancy channels in these materials.

Eligibility

The ideal candidate would be a physics/electrical engineering graduate from a New Zealand University with an interest in semiconductor growth, characterisation, and device fabrication. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Canterbury.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Martin Allenmartin.allen@canterbury.ac.nz with “The behaviour of oxygen vacancy channels in Gallium Oxide memristors” in the subject line.


Nanowire materials for high density netNanowire materials for high density networks of memristors

The aim of this project is to study the neuromorphic behaviour of large numbers of interconnected nanowire memristors. Memristors are typically 2 terminal devices bridged with an insulator that can be switched between a low resistance state and a high resistance state by the application of a DC bias or combination of pulsed voltages. For neuromorphic computing applications large numbers of interconnected interfaces are required, and it is important that those interfaces occur frequently and can be accessed randomly throughout the network. ZnO NWs have emerged as a memristive system where both single nanowires and meshes of nanowires have displayed memristive properties.

In this project the successful candidate will fabricate and characterise the ZnO nanowire memristive networks interfaced with multielectrode arrays. To do so ZnO nanowires will be synthesised using hydrothermal growth techniques.

Eligibility

The candidate should have a strong background in physics or electrical engineering. Previous cleanroom and microfabrication experience is an advantage. Knowledge of electronics and Labview and python coding are also an advantage, but not essential. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at the Victoria University of Wellington.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Dr Natalie Planknatalie.plank@vuw.ac.nz with “Nanowire materials for high density netNanowire materials for high density networks of memristors” in the subject line.


Simple Computing with Networks of Human Cells

This PhD project will extend our established methods in 2D cell patterning and multi-electrode arrays to incorporate both biocompatible gels that can better support the extra cellular matrix (ECM) and gel electrodes in 2D environments. Thus, 2D organised gel grid networks of human cells will be realised on silicon chip that can be both stimulated and recorded from electrically using novel gel multi-electrode arrays for electrical cell types, such as neurons. Finally, by stimulating the 2D organised gel grid networks and recording how they learn we will perform rudimentary computing in organic systems on a chip. Supervised by: A/P Charles Unsworth (Neural Engineering, University of Auckland) and Prof. M. Bill Williams (Biophysics & Soft Matter, Massey University).

Eligibility

We seek a high calibre candidate with keen interest to contribute to the field of Neural Engineering. The experience that we seek is ranked but not limited to: Electronics, hydrogels, biomaterials, signal processing, cell culture. It is not expected that candidates have all of the above experience. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Auckland.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Associate Professor Charles Unsworthc.unsworth@auckland.ac.nz,  with “Simple Computing with Networks of Human Cells” in the subject line.


A Sustainable High-Tech Device Based on Pectin for Monitoring Temperature and Internal Stresses

We will use our expertise in the fine structure design of pectic polymers in order to optimize its performance in a novel temperature sensor inspired by [1]. This will involve the development of electrical measurements for calcium ion mapping in ion-tropic networks. The device will then be used to measure spatiotemporal correlations in polymer dynamics electrically using the changes in local free ion concentration mediated by their release from their charged polymer shackles during stress redistribution, using electrode arrays.

The measured spatiotemporal correlations may hold the possibility of performing unconventional computation. This idea is inspired by recent work showing that networks of stoma on leaves solve optimization problems in ways akin to cellular automata (CA) [2]. In addition, CA have been used to study earthquakes dynamics [3], and we have recently shown that stress-relieving quakes also occur in physical gel networks as a consequence of their frustrated non-equilibrium nature [4]. Given then that we know that physical computational processes are being carried out in Nature by CA, and that there is a strong precedent to think that we can model stress redistributions in non-equilibrium gels by CA, the question arises if we can control gel structure and dynamics in order to produce spatiotemporal correlations that implement a particular CA and thereby perform a particular computational task?

References: 
[1] Plant nanobionic materials with a giant temperature response mediated by pectin-Ca2+ Di Giacomo, Raffaele; Daraio, Chiara; Maresca, Bruno, PNAS, 112, 15, 4541-4545, 2015
[2] Evidence for complex, collective dynamics and emergent, distributed computation in plants, Peak, D; West, JD; Messinger, SM; et al., PNAS, Volume: 101 Issue: 4 Pages: 918- 922 Published: JAN 27 2004.
[3] Application of cellular automata modeling to seismic elastodynamics, Leamy, Michael J. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SOLIDS AND STRUCTURES Volume: 45 Issue: 17 Pages: 4835-4849 Published: AUG 15 2008.
[4] Internal stress drives slow glassy dynamics and quake-like behaviour in ionotropic pectin gels, Mansel, Bradley W.; Williams, Martin A. K. SOFT MATTER Volume: 11 Issue: 35 Pages: 7016-7023 Published: 2015.

Eligibility

An ambitious student who is keen to learn new skills is ideal for this highly interdisciplinary project. A suitable background would be someone with experience in either nanoscience or bio/materials engineering. The ideal candidate would have experience in characterisation of materials and in biological materials. Specialised training will be provided in the areas where it is needed. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at Massey University.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Bill Williams, M.Williams@massey.ac.nz,  with “A Sustainable High-Tech Device Based on Pectin for Monitoring Temperature and Internal Stresses ” in the subject line.


Triplet superconductivity in SmN: effects of correlations and disorder

Samarium Nitride (SmN) is a material that is simultaneously ferromagnetic and superconductive, and therefore is an ideal candidate for applications in the field of Superconducting Spintronics. In conventional superconductors, electrons form Cooper pairs which are made of opposite spins and are in a spin-singlet state. Any alignment of the electron spins is detrimental to conventional superconductivity. In SmN, due to the coexistence of ferromagnetism and superconductivity, the Copper pairs must be made of electrons with aligned spins, and are in the fully spin-polarised spin triplet state.

The aim of this project is to construct a minimal model to describe fully-spin polarised triplet superconductivity in SmN. The model will also describe the mechanism providing the effective attractive interaction in the material. Due to the presence of a flat band near the Fermi level, it will be crucial to include the electron-electron interaction as these types of systems have a propensity to exhibit strongly correlated heavy-fermion physics. Finally, triplet superconductivity is usually extremely fragile to the presence of disorder. Therefore we will include disorder to the model in order to understand the mechanism which allows triplet pairing to survive in a disordered semiconductor, such as SmN.

Eligibility

The ideal candidate has a Master or Honours degree in Physics with a solid understanding of advanced quantum physics and condensed-matter. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at the Victoria University of Wellington.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Michele Governalemichele.governale@vuw.ac.nz,  with “Triplet superconductivity in SmN: effects of correlations and disorder” in the subject line.


Superconducting switching in oxide heterostructures

Novel low-energy switching elements are needed for the next generation of high-performance computing. This project seeks to develop sandwiches of different materials, known as oxide heterostructures, capable of switching between superconducting and resistive states.
The aim is to harness emergent physics that can occur at the interface between dissimilar materials. The research will involve oxide thin-film growth, physical and electrical characterization by multiple techniques, and developing an understanding of the underlying physics.

Eligibility

The candidate should have:
A physics degree (or similar) equivalent to a 1st class 4-year Honours degree in New Zealand, or a Masters or Postgraduate Diploma equivalent with high grades (>80%);
A basic knowledge of superconductivity and/or electronic properties of solid-state or condensed matter materials.
Ideally some experience in cryogenic techniques and demonstrated capability in computational modelling.
Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at the Victoria University of Wellington.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Dr James Storeyjames.storey@vuw.ac.nz,  with “Superconducting switching in oxide heterostructures” in the subject line.


Topological electronic properties of ferromagnetic Heusler alloys

Technology built on ferromagnetic thin films gave us the high capacity hard drives that led to the internet and all the huge benefits of modern computing available today. Now, research into magnetic materials is focused on achieving new forms of computing that are ultra-fast and extremely energy-efficient. This materials physics project will build on our recent work controlling the nanoscale magnetic structures and using the quantum electronic properties of ferromagnetic Heusler alloy thin films to understand how to make prototype spintronics memory devices that use topologically interesting electronic states.

This research will involve growth of thin film multilayers, clean room device patterning and characterisation of the basic magnetic, structural and electrical properties to learn how to control these useful characteristics, and to demonstrate all-electrically controlled spintronic memory devices using the spin torque from the anomalous Hall effect.

Eligibility

The candidate should have:
A physics degree equivalent to a 1st class 4-year Honours degree in New Zealand, or a Masters or Postgraduate Diploma equivalent with high grades (>80%);
A basic knowledge of magnetic materials and the electronic properties of solid-state or condensed matter materials.
Ideally (but not necessarily) some experience in vacuum thin film deposition or clean room lithography techniques. Micromagnetic simulation knowledge would be useful.
Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at the Victoria University of Wellington.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Dr Simon Granvillesimon.granville@vuw.ac.nz,  with “Topological electronic properties of ferromagnetic Heusler alloys” in the subject line.


Control and switching properties of superconducting structures using ferromagnetic semiconductors

The student will investigate control and switching properties in hybrid ferromagnetic/superconducting structures, building blocks that are of central importance for realising novel Josephson-junction qubits for high performance quantum computing systems. The work will marry superconductors like niobium with rare-earth nitrides, the only recognised series of epitaxy-compatible intrinsic ferromagnetic semiconductors.

Eligibility

The successful candidate will have a good honours or masters degree in physics or electronic device engineering, and a desire to work in a multi-institutional, multidisciplinary, collaborative environment. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at the Victoria University of Wellington.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Dr Franck Natalifranck.natali@vuw.ac.nz,  with “Control and switching properties of superconducting structures using ferromagnetic semiconductors” in the subject line.


Electronic Phase Diagram of Samarium Nitride

Samarium nitride is a ferromagnetic semiconductor that can be doped to control the carrier concentration leading to a remarkable evolution of its electronic properties from insulating through mixed valence all the way to superconducting. This project involves an experimental investigation of the phase diagram of this material utilising a combination of electrical transport and spectroscopy.

Eligibility

The successful candidate will have a good honours or masters degree in physics, and a desire to work in a multi-institutional, multidisciplinary, collaborative environment. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at the Victoria University of Wellington.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Associate Professor Ben Ruckben.ruck@vuw.ac.nz,  with “Electronic Phase Diagram of Samarium Nitride” in the subject line.


Topological insulator nanoparticles

The aim of this PhD project is to make and study topological insulator nanoparticles (e.g., Bi2Te3, Bi2Se3, Sb2Te3). Previous research has focused on bulk compounds that have metallic surfaces and an insulating interior. However, the properties of nanoparticles or their synthesis have not been explored. The PhD student will synthesize different pure and transition metal doped topological nanoparticles and research how the physical properties change as the size is reduced.

Eligibility

The candidate should have a chemistry degree equivalent to a 1st class or 2nd class (1st division) 4-year Honours degree in New Zealand, or a Masters or Postgraduate Diploma equivalent with high grades (>80%). Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at the Victoria University of Wellington.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Grant Williamsgrant.williams@vuw.ac.nz,  with “Topological insulator nanoparticles” in the subject line.


Theoretical description of topological nanostructures

The project will develop and apply continuum-model descriptions of topological materials subject to confinement. In particular, electronic and optical properties of nanoparticles and nanowires made of higher-order topological materials will be elucidated. Device applications of topological nanomaterials will be explored theoretically to guide experimental investigations.

Eligibility

The ideal PhD candidate will have a solid grounding in theoretical-physics methods at the Master's level. Prior research experience using many-body theories in condensed-matter or ultra-cold atom physics will be a plus. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at the Victoria University of Wellington.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Uli Zuelickeuli.zuelicke@vuw.ac.nz,  with “Theoretical description of topological nanostructures” in the subject line.

To anyone thinking of doing a PhD in materials science I couldn't recommend the MacDiarmid Institute enough. Go live, explore and do research with these amazing scientists in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Dr Ankita Gangotra Alumna

Reconfigurable Systems - Towards Zero Waste

Reconfigurable Pickering Emulsions

Pickering emulsions are metastable dispersions of immiscible liquids stabilized by solid particles. Compared to emulsions stabilised by surfactants, Pickering emulsions offer remarkable stability against coalescence and Ostwald ripening. However, it is desirable to be able to reconfigure emulsion morphology on demand for many applications. This project will build on recent progress we made in fusing particle-coated droplets of different, immiscible oils together into multiphase drops (Droplet Fusion in Oil-in-Water Pickering Emulsions).

Our aim is to investigate how to manipulate the configurations of these complex emulsions and how to control encapsulation of ingredients within fused emulsions. This is an experimental project and the student will gain skills in using a variety of techniques, including light scattering, confocal fluorescence microscopy and rheology, to probe the structure and function of soft materials. The student will be based on the Palmerston North campus of Massey University.

Eligibility

A student who has completed a BSc honours (or MSc) degree majoring in chemistry, or a chemical engineering degree. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at Massey University.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Associate Professor Catherine WhitbyC.P.Whitby@massey.ac.nz, with “Reconfigurable Pickering Emulsions” in the subject line.


Reversible Assembly of Solid Patchy Particles

This project will be a challenging and exciting exploration of the technological possibilities for colloidal self-assembly. Method(s) will be developed for reversible assembly of micrometer-scale solid colloidal particles into multiscale structures such as 3D porous matrices. The colloids will be so-called patchy particles, which can be designed so that they 'dock' in prescribed configurations. Reversibility can be achieved, for example, using solid-state magnetism to produce supracolloidal clusters that disassemble in response to stimulus. The methods developed will be scalable and enable specific functions (e.g. catalysis, or capture and storage) so that technologies which enhance material sustainability can emerge.

Eligibility

The ideal candidate will have a strong Honours or Masters degree in a physical sciences discipline, and experimental experience e.g. with microfluidics or fabrication of patchy or Janus colloids. In addition, they should have excellent analytical skills to assist with interpretation of experiments, and a strong command of written English. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Auckland.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Associate Professor Geoff Willmottg.willmott@auckland.ac.nz, with “Reversible Assembly of Solid Patchy Particles” in the subject line.


Stimuli-responsive colloids for sustainable chemistry

Inspired by biological cell-signalling, the project will aim to develop stimuli-responsive colloidal emulsions to perform multiple, incompatible, chemical reactions in one pot, controlled by applied stimuli. We will design and synthesise the components of these systems, study their physical properties and responsiveness to the environmental/reaction conditions. The colloids will be design to interact and reconfigure allowing control over sequence of reactions. The focus will be on utilising such systems to perform important chemical reactions in a sustainable and efficient way.

Eligibility

The ideal PhD candidate will have strong background in organic synthesis and/or colloidal chemistry, and excellent understanding of fundamental physical chemistry. The candidate will have a BScHon or MSc degree in organic/physical/materials chemistry with outstanding grades and a keen interest in multidisciplinary research. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Auckland.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Jadranka Travas-Sejdic, j.travas-sejdic@auckland.ac.nz, with “Stimuli-responsive colloids for sustainable chemistry” in the subject line.


Exploring the non-classical properties of protein structures

This project will explore non-classical protein functions, such as piezoelectricity, magnetism and charge storage/conductivity. In particular, the project will focus on elucidating structure-function relationships between protein structure and piezoelectric response. This will be done by studying the underlying mechanisms of function at different hierarchical levels of protein structure by investigating molecules ranging from model peptides, to proteins exhibiting canonical structural motifs, through quaternary structures and assemblies (films, fibres, crystals). We will use hemoglobin as a model system, a globular protein rich in α-helices that can assemble into either α-helical or β-sheet rich fibres.

The generated knowledge will be used to design and prototype protein based smart materials for, for example, bio-piezoelectric energy harvesting. Research into using biological materials to perform energy harvesting has so far explored peptide nanotubes, organic fibers, and virus assemblies. A deeper understanding of the structure-function relationship will enable directed design of protein or peptide materials for energy scavenging and other applications. The biological system selected as most promising may also be enhanced by combining with inorganic materials in an organised manner.

Eligibility

An ambitious student who is keen to learn new skills is ideal for this highly interdisciplinary project. A suitable background would be someone with experience in either nanoscience or bio/materials engineering. The ideal candidate would have experience in characterisation of materials and in biological materials. Experience in electronic characterisation would also be desired. Specialised training will be provided in the areas where it is needed. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Auckland.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Dr Jenny Malmströmj.malmstrom@auckland.ac.nz, with “Exploring the non-classical properties of protein structures” in the subject line.


Assembling 3d protein carrier/cargo scaffolds on surfaces

Self-assembled organised structures on surfaces can be assembled through the use of carefully selected and modified protein building blocks, and the use of techniques to guide their self assembly on a surface. The versatility of these building blocks also allow the organisation of cargo molecules, such as polyoxometalates or other magnetic nanoparticles, with possible fundamental applications, e.g., in spintronics. Building on techniques developed for organised 2D films that are capable of carrying useful cargoes this project will explore extending into three dimensions to provide ordered structures with tunable spacing and high homogeneity, and explore their uses in applications.

Eligibility

The ideal student will have experience in protein expression / purification, and skills in physical characterisation techniques, especially surface related. Experience in making surface films, especially using Langmuir Blodgett techniques, would be desirable. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Auckland.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Duncan McGillivrayd.mcgillivray@auckland.ac.nz, with “Assembling 3d protein carrier/cargo scaffolds on surfaces” in the subject line.


Guided assembly of bioinspired materials based on electro- and chemotactic zoospores

This project will explore the navigation and aggregation strategies exhibited by motile spores of fungi and oomycetes as an inspiration for the guided assembly of higher order biomaterials. Electro- and chemotactic sensing mechanisms used by motile zoospores to navigate and self-aggregate will be studied. Insights from this will be used to guide zoospore movement and their assembly into ordered structures. Observations made regarding the zoospore-internal biochemical processes related to these mechanisms will be evaluated for their transferability to artificial systems.

We will use existing fungal lab-on-a-chip platforms in combination with advanced microscopy, optical tweezers, nanoaspiration and electrode systems to study the biomolecular mechanisms involved in signal transduction and interactions within and between zoospores. Single zoospore swimming patterns will be screened in relation to voltage levels, polarity and signal type with the goal of demonstrating guided assembly of biomaterials for use as an assembly template. Collaborative applications will include the encapsulation of zoospores with polysaccharides and functional proteins via layer-by-layer assembly, and used for flexible electronics.

Eligibility

Someone with a background and experience in either Microbiology/Mycology or Microsystems Engineering would be ideal. Engineering candidates should have experience in the fabrication and use of lab-on-a-chip devices, and be keen to use these with fungal microorganisms. Biologists should have prior experience with the culture and maintenance of fungal microorganisms and be interested in expanding their experimental technique to microfluidic platforms. Specialized training in either area will be provided. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Canterbury.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Associate Professor Volker Nockvolker.nock@canterbury.ac.nz, with “Guided assembly of bioinspired materials based on electro- and chemotactic zoospores” in the subject line.


Functionalisation of nanostructured amphipathic protein monolayers

Hydrophobins are a family of low molecular weight proteins that are unique to fungi. In vivo, they are secreted by fungi as soluble monomers and upon reaching an interface, aggregate spontaneously to form robust polymeric ‘rodlet’ monolayers that are highly amphipathic. These monolayers act as natural surfactants, reducing the surface tension of the medium and allowing fungi to breach the air/water interface and to produce hyphae.

The formation of this rodlet monolayer with unique amphipathic properties has lead to some investigation into the use of these proteins in nanotechnology. In this project, we will build on previous work controlling the kinetics of rodlet monolayer formation to investigate emergent native properties of these protein monolayers. Hydrophobin proteins will also be functionalized using a variety of strategies (including the incorporation of unnatural amino acids) and functional measurements carried out.

Eligibility

Previous experience in recombinant protein expression. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Auckland.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Dr Laura Domiganl.domigan@auckland.ac.nz, with “Functionalisation of nanostructured amphipathic protein monolayers” in the subject line.

MacDiarmid is the best place for supporting PhD students and postdocs in getting work opportunities.

Dr Cherie Tollemache Alumna

Mātauranga Māori Research Programme - Sustainable Resource Use

Projects incorporating indigenous knowledge via collaboration and co-design are available. Contact the Programme Leader, Dr Pauline Harris, directly if interested. Potential candidates will be hosted at Victoria University under the supervision of the MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigators. 

External PhD scholarship opportunities with MacDiarmid Institute Investigators

Please see this section for externally-funded PhD scholarship opportunities which will be supervised by MacDiarmid Institute Investigators.  While the students will be affiliated with the MacDiarmid Institute and will automatically be part of the MacDiarmid Emerging Scientists Association (MESA), the scholarships are not funded by the MacDiarmid Institute.


Interface phase transitions and degradation of Pb-free ferroelectric ceramics

The aging and fatigue (degradation) of oxide ferroelectric materials in service is not understood at a fundamental defect level. In these materials, the thermodynamic state of interfaces such as grain boundaries has not been explored to the extent that it has in non-polar materials. In part, this is because of the multi-physics coupling, and herein lies the key to the richness of the physics.

In this project, we will build on previous work on interfaces in functional oxides and on bulk ferroelectric phase coexistence to develop new multi-physics models. Thermodynamics of bulk phases, interfaces and point defects will be coupled in order to develop understanding of bulk and interface phase transition behaviour in barium titanate and other Pb-free chemistries. This knowledge will enable identification of the origin of ferroelectric degradation and strategies to mitigate this problem.

Eligibility

An ideal candidate would have previous experience in materials modelling, particularly mesoscale modelling, and oxide ceramics. An excellent background in mathematics is required. The student is likely to have an Honours or Masters degree in a discipline such as materials science and engineering, physics, chemistry or geology. This is part of an international collaboration funded by a Marsden Grant, and excellent communication skills are required. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Canterbury.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

Marsden funded at NZD$30,000 per annum (not taxed) and includes all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Associate Professor Catherine Bishop, catherine.bishop@canterbury.ac.nz with “Interface phase transitions and degradation of Pb-free ferroelectric ceramics” in the subject line.