PhD Studentship on the Isolation of Novel 2D Materials for Future Textile, Electronic and Energy Applications (2019)

A three-and-a-half year studentship which covers fees and living expenses.

Type of award

Postgraduate Research

PhD project

A 3-and-a-half year PhD position in the newly established CSB Materials Research group at the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, University of Sussex and housed within the Materials Physics laboratories.

Scope of Project:
Layered materials consist of loosely stacked two-dimensional sheets that, when containing a sufficient number of layers, form three-dimensional macro structures. The archetypal example of this would be graphite, with a single one of these stacked sheets known as the nanomaterial graphene. In the bulk form, a material like graphite is an average conductor of heat and electricity and is mechanically brittle. However, when delaminated from the bulk structure, isolated graphene nanosheets display extraordinary properties (i.e. very high thermal and electrical conductivities; mechanically robust). Essentially, exfoliation optimises the material, opening up the possibility of using these 2D materials for more advanced applications. This isolation is done through an inexpensive, simple all-in-one protocol in which the bulk layered material is exfoliated and the delaminated nanosheets stabilise in the same liquid medium by applying sonic or mixing energy to the system. Through liquid exfoliation, many other forms of other 2D nanosheets have been found; such as boron nitride, transition metal chalcogenides, phosphorene, layered double hydroxides and Mxenes; all possessing their own unique properties and thus applications.

With a wide range of structural and electronic properties, 2D materials have been used in a variety of multidisciplinary applications. From mechanically reinforcing or conducting fillers in composite materials, catalysts, optoelectric devices, electronic switches to energy storage; the potential of nanomaterials seems limitless. The proposed work plan is to further expand researchers' library of 2D materials through the isolation and characterisation of novel layered materials that previously have gone overlooked but that have been identified as exfoilable.

The main objectives of the proposed research would be to exfoliate various forms of the bulk material to produce new, stable, not previously reported insulating, conducting, semiconducting and magnetic 2D nanosheets; with the latter being the first of its kind. Then demonstrate the potential application of the materials as mechanical reinforcers, conductive fillers, catalysts, electrical devices and energy and data storage through a series of proof of concept tests.

Career Opportunity:
Successful candidates have the opportunity to work within an international collaborative network of top researchers in the field of Materials Science and publish work in high-impact, internationally recognised journals such as Science and Nature. Candidates will practice and learn communicative skills through career development programs, outreach initiatives and international conferences/workshops. They will learn and practice a broad but essential skill set associated with processing, characterising and the application of nanomaterial; which is an important employer for research jobs both academic and industrial.


You will receive:

  • fully-funded tuition fees for 3 and a half years (at the UK/EU rate)
  • a tax free bursary for living costs for 3 and a half years. For 2018/19 this is £14,777 per year
  • a research training support grant for 3 and a half years of £1,250 per year


To be eligible you must:

  • have or expect to have a UK 1st Class Honours Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Physics, Chemistry, or Material Science with a strong background/interest in physical measurement, or equivalent. 
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills are essential.



31 July 2019 0:00 (GMT)

How to apply

CVs with the names and addresses of three referees should be submitted to Dr. Conor Boland ( with the subject line “Boland Group PhD Studentship”.

Only short-listed applications will be acknowledged.


Contact us

For practical questions about applications and/or eligibility for funding, please contact Rebecca Foster at:

For academic questions please contact the supervisor of this project, Dr. Conor Boland ( 


The position will be filled as soon as a suitable candidate is found so you should apply as soon as you are able to. 


At level(s):
PG (research)

Application deadline:
31 July 2019 0:00 (GMT)
the deadline has now expired


The award is available to people from these specific countries: