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Fully funded PhD position(s) available

6 June 2017

The School of Physics and Astronomy is seeking highly-motivated candidates for fully-funded PhD positions.

Are you about to graduate with a 1st or good 2.1 degree in Physics?  Have you got an interest in carrying out research in soft matter or biological physics on a project with industrial relevance? We are seeking highly-motivated candidates for fully-funded PhD positions to work on one of the following projects:

• Imaging of biological materials using microbubbles and nanorods as approaches to cancer detection (;

• Liquid crystal composites for multimode optoelectronic devices (;

• Switchable lenses and sensors using novel soft materials (;

• Bistable Liquid Crystal Lenses and reconfigurable Holographic elements (

• Mapping drug distribution of microbubble-based therapeutic delivery in tumours using Raman and mass spectroscopy (;

• Optimising plasmonic-based biosensors (

The projects are all collaborative with industry so the successful applicant will have the opportunity to gain experience of industrially relevant research. Further details of each of the projects can be obtained by contacting the relevant named person. Informal general enquires can be made to Dr Critchley

The successful applicant(s) will hold or be about to receive a 1st or good 2.1. degree in Physics.  The funding is available for UK/EU students only.

Applications must be made in the first instance by submitting a CV by e-mail to Dr Kevin Critchley Your CV must state your actual or anticipated degree result, known marks and relevant experience. Please name two referees who can comment on your motivation and potential to carry out research. 

Applications to be made as soon as possible. The PhD position must start on 1st October 2017. 

Partnership aims for a new generation of optical instruments

2 June 2017

A new partnership between leading science and technology company Merck and the University aims to expand the use of liquid crystals in optical innovations.

The five year collaboration will focus on the development of liquid crystals, commonly used in smartphones and TV screens, into non-display instruments such as switchable contact lenses and virtual-reality glasses.

As a global market leader for liquid crystals, Merck sees great future potential for their use in optical applications. The University has both the expertise and state-of-the-art facilities in order to conduct feasibility studies and develop prototypes of the devices and is building a reputation in particular for non-display applications.

This includes recent work in the School of Physics and Astronomy which combines liquid crystals and graphene to create switchable contact lenses, and liquid crystal elastomers for improved implants for the eye's intra-ocular lens. These approaches to restoring vision are just part of the range of novel applications being investigated by the Leeds team.

Professor Helen Gleeson, Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy at Leeds, said: “The School is very excited about this partnership. Our ability to translate our fundamental research into world-leading applications and this important collaboration will uniquely place us to deliver completely new applications of liquid crystals.”

Read more about this story on the University's news page.

Methanol detected for first time around young star

2 June 2017

Dr Catherine Walsh has led new work detecting methanol, a key building block for the emergence of life, in the disk of a young, distant star.

Read more about the discovery in AstroBiology Magazine.

Africa calling: stars, sky and the greater good

3 May 2017

If you think about the skills required for the social and economic progress needed by developing countries, radio astronomy is probably not very high on your list. However, the assumptions one makes about applied technical sciences and their worth to such nations might be unwarranted if a new research project is anything to go by.

Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (Dara) aims to train a new, and in many cases a first, cohort of radio astronomers in sub-Saharan African countries. The University of Leeds-led project began as a Royal Society grant belonging to Melvin Hoare, Professor of Astrophysics.

Professor Hoare did some initial radio astronomy training in Ghana via the funding, before gaining a substantial grant in 2015 from the Newton Fund – which is part of the UK’s overseas aid commitments, and is delivered through the Science and Technology Facilities Council. With that grant, Dara trained scientists in Zambia, Kenya, Namibia and Botswana. Now, thanks to a further £2.7 million injection from the fund, it is being rolled out in Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique and Mauritius.

Read more about Dara on the Times Higher Education website.

Art Invasion: a painting exhibition by Costas Evangelatos

7 April 2017

The School of Physics and Astronomy were delighted to hold an art exhibition by the artist Costas Evangelatos from Athens, Greece. The paintings were inspired by posters and presentations from the 18th Symposium on Topological Quantum Information that took place in Athens, May 2015.

Read more about the exhibition here

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