Vacancies

All vacancies are now filled.

Project Descriptions


1. 3D Atomic Manipulation. 
Lead Partner: University of Nottingham.
Contact: philip.moriarty@nottingham.ac.uk

This studentship has now been filled. 

This project will focus on the theoretical prediction, and experimental realisation, of non-contact atomic force probes capable of driving specific reactions at surfaces on a bond-by-bond basis (mechanosynthesis) to fabricate 3D nanostructures, one atom at a time. Extending  the group’s recent work on the manipulation of silicon bonds [ Sweetman et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 106 136101 (2001); see also the video below], different group III, IV, and V elements will be introduced into a “host” silicon tip and the resulting ability of the tip apex to deposit/extract atoms from a surface will be explored.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBmBMmuUBMk 

 


2. Automated Probe Optimisation.
Lead Partner: University of Nottingham.
Contact: philip.moriarty@nottingham.ac.uk

 

This studentship has now been filled. 

Building on the combination of deterministic (rule-based) and genetic algorithm approaches previously developed within the Nottingham Nanoscience group [Woolleyet al., Appl. Phys. Lett. 98, 253104 (2011)], the successful candidate will develop fully autonomous processes for the selection of particular tip states.


3. Development of an Atom-Tracking Module
Lead Partner: Omicron Nanotechnology
Contact: a.bettac@omicron.de
 

This studentship has now been filled. 

In a team with experienced SPM specialists you will be responsible for the development, test and characterisation of an atom tracking module for SPM applications. You will work together with specialists from the electronic and software departments of Omicron Nanotechnology on the development of a system for the measurement and compensation of vertical and lateral drift in scanning probe microscopes. The project includes the development and the characterisation, in collaboration with academic partners in the ACRITAS network, of the hardware and software, as well as the proof of the method by application measurements, such as force- and tunnelling current-spectroscopy.


4. Manipulation of single functional molecules on surfaces
Lead Partner: Fritz-Haber-Institut Berlin
Contact: lgr@fhi-berlin.mpg.de

 

This studentship has now been filled. 

This project will focus on the manipulation of single functional molecules on surfaces by scanning probe microscopy, using either a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) or a non-contact atomic force microscope (NC-AFM) at low temperatures. A particular focus will be on bistable molecules, so-called molecular switches, which exist in two (or more) states, each with characteristic physical and chemical properties. Such molecules play a key role in nature, but are also of high interest for potential applications in future molecular nanotechnology. The project aims to gain fundamental understanding on the switching process and the important conditions in terms of molecular structure and atomic-scale environment. Within this project, various metallic and insulating surfaces will be tested as well as molecules in weak and strong coupling with each other. The latter case is of particular interest for information transport between them and the concept of cooperative processes



5. 
The role of charge transfer in stabilizing molecular films on     diamond surfaces
Lead Partner: Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz
Contact: kuehnle@uni-mainz.de

This studentship has now been filled.

Charge-transfer doping constitutes a promising strategy for stabilizing molecular films on surfaces. In this project we will explore the potential of charge transfer doping for stabilizing fullerene films on hydrogenated diamond surfaces. The project will benefit from the high-resolution imaging capability of non-contact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM) for investigating the effect of fullerene flourination on the resulting island morphologies. The charge transfer will be measured directly by Kelvin Probe Force Microcopy (KPFM). From a detailed understanding of the charge transfer process, strategies will be developed for creating molecular films with tailor-made properties. This project will also exploit the expertise of the ACRITAS consortium with respect to high-resolution NC-AFM as well as KPFM measurements on insulating surfaces. [M. Nimmrich et al. Phys. Rev. B 85 (2012) 035420 ]


6, 7. Probing protein interactions at interfaces using high resolution atomic force microscopy [Two studentships]
Lead Partner: University College Dublin
Contact: suzi.jarvis@ucd.ie

These studentships have now been filled.

At University College Dublin we have developed an ultra-high resolution atomic force microscope for aqueous operation that has enabled us to investigate the role of water and ions in biological function by directly imaging water structure and ion charge distribution with unprecedented resolution (e.g. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 133, 18296 (2011)). We now offer two PhD studentships to further apply this new AFM capability to investigate functional protein aggregation at interfaces and protein interactions at the membrane-fluid interface specifically. While amyloid protein aggregation is frequently associated with incurable diseases of aging such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease it also plays a functional role in many natural materials including adhesives, biofilms and hydrophobic coatings opening up the possibility of developing new biomaterials via the process of biomimicry (e.g. The Functional Fold: Amyloid Structures in Nature, Pan Stanford Publishing). To date the study of amyloid based natural materials has primarily focussed on their identification and characterisation. We intend to utilise the subnanometer sensitive of our AFM to understand initial amyloid formation at the molecular level and the role played by the adjacent interface in this process. We will also explore the role of water and ions in mediating the interactions of proteins at the membrane-fluid interface.


8. The influence of chirality in the self-assembly of molecular networks on insulators
Lead Partner: King’s College London
Contact: lev.kantorovitch@kcl.ac.uk

This studentship has now been filled.

Until now, the physico-chemical mechanisms responsible for heterochiral recognition observed in the self-assembly of heptahelicene carboxylic acid  on insulators – a very important prototypical system for fundamental studies of chiral assembly – are unclear. This project will combine state-of-the-art DFT calculations in the KCL group with experimental NC-AFM measurements in the JGU group.

In particular, we shall try to understand an intriguing phase transition observed by the JGU group on the calcite surface when DHBA molecules, after initially forming one self-assembled phase upon their deposition gradually reform into a completely different structure. It is believed that an activated dehydrogenation of the DHBA molecules is responsible which results in dissociation of one phase and gradual growth of the  other. Theoretical analysis  of this phase transition require a wide arsenal of tools to understand its mechanism:  these would involve large scale state-of-the-art density functional calculations of the molecular adsorption, mobility and dehydrogenation, followed by large-scale kinetic Monte Carlo simulations of the phase transition itself.


9.  Correlating the optical and mechanical properties of single polymer chains.
Lead Partner: University of Sheffield  
Contact: ashley.cadby@sheffield.ac.uk

This studentship has now been filled.

Solid immersion lenses allow the construction of microscopes with very high numerical apertures and fine control over the evanescent wave produced in total internal reflection microscopy (TIRF). This maximizes photon collection efficiency and will allow us to perform optical measurements on single molecules pulled by an AFM tip. High-resolution AFM images and force-distance spectra will be correlated with the optical properties of single polymers.


10.   Atomic scale characterization of defects in carbon nanostructures
Lead Partner: Universidad Autonoma de Madrid
Contact: ruben.perez@uam.es

This studentship has now been filled. 

Building on the important insights into imaging carbon nanostructures  recently published  by the Madrid node [Phys. Rev. Lett. 106 176101 (2011)], you will collaborate with the RGN and UNOTT groups  (who will provide experimental data) on the theory of combined STM-AFM imaging and spectroscopy of defects, e.g. vacancies and impurities, in carbon nanostructures including graphene and nanotubes.


11.   Probing the electrical characteristics of individual point defects in insulating films
Lead Partner: IBM Zurich
Contact: lgr@zurich.ibm.com

This studentship has now been filled.

Individual atomic point defects will be investigated experimentally using electrostatic force microscopy (see video below for a brief description of the EFM technique). The usage of atomically functionalized and therefore well-defined tips will facilitate comparison with theory. Such investigations are foreseen to increase the general understanding of atomic resolution Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM). Force sensors and enhanced measurement protocols for AFM and KPFM data acquisition at cryogenic temperatures (using the qPlus sensor) will be developed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plMkPtwEMRM

12.   Elucidating the role of the phantom force in non-contact atomic force microscopy
Lead Partner: University of Regensburg
Contact: franz.giessibl@physik.uni-regensburg.de

This studentship has now been filled.

The Regensburg group has very recently identified a very important physical effect which acts to “cross-couple” the tunnel current and force channels in combined STM and NC-AFM studies of silicon surfaces [Weymouth et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 106 226801 (2011)].  You will extend the analysis of this “phantom force” effect to defects at passivated silicon substrates.