Postgraduate research opportunities Colloidal Semiconductors for Photonics


Key facts

  • Opens: Tuesday 23 March 2021
  • Deadline: Friday 30 July 2021
  • Number of places: 1
  • Duration: 36 months
  • Funding: Home fee, Stipend


This project will pioneer assemblies of colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals and their combination with gallium nitride optoelectronics for novel forms of lighting, visible light communications and miniature lasers.
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To enter our PhD programme, applicants require an upper-second or first class BSc Honours degree, or a Masters qualification of equal or higher standard, in Physics, Engineering or a related discipline. Full funding, covering fees and stipend, is available for applicants who are UK Nationals (meeting residency requirements) or have settled status (meeting residency requirements), pre-settled status or otherwise have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner
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Project Details

Photonics is the technology of light: materials, devices and systems that create, transport, control and detect photons in order to realise advanced functions. It underpins other critical technologies including the Internet, lighting and displays, imaging, environmental monitoring, medical and scientific instrumentation, and many other established and emerging applications. This project will create photonic materials and devices with advanced properties for novel forms of lighting and visible light communications but also for novel miniature lasers. It will do so by pioneering micro-size and nano-size assemblies of colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals.

Colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals (NCs) are tiny speck of semiconductors (typically <10nm) that can be dispersed in, and therefore processed from, solution (an organic solvent or even water). They have optical properties that can be conveniently tuned by size, shape, and composition. They exhibit broad absorption spectra with relatively narrow emission linewidth making them ideal for colour-converting blue and UV LEDs – e.g., NCs are combined with LEDs in new generation high-definition TV. Assemblies of NCs into higher level nano- and micro-structures (from the size of a virus to the size of bacteria) confer these light-emitting materials with additional properties - for example to enhance efficiency, to change the emission signature or again to obtain laser emission.

Our group at Strathclyde has access to bespoke NC synthesis with various shapes, sizes, and electronic structures through our collaborations with Nanyang Technological University (Singapore). We have been exploring the technology of NCs hybridised with micro-size GaN LEDs (µLEDs) for a number of years (our group is also one of the pioneers of µLEDs) in order to unlock applications; an example is Visible Light Communications (VLC, also called LiFi), which combines in a transformative way optical communications with illumination and display. With such base capability, we have the opportunity to revolutionise the performance of hybrid, miniature optical sources and their applications.

The PhD candidate will be involved material specification and characterisation, micro-size assembly, experimental studies and demonstration of devices. They will join our team at the Institute of Photonics (Department of Physics) at the University of Strathclyde and work in a high-impact technological area within a stimulating, multidisciplinary environment. They will be mentored on the job and through the PGCert in Researcher Professional Development in technical and transferable skills, including writing skills, technical speaking and presentations skills, literature searching and analysis. Research findings will be published in high impact journals with the opportunity for the student to present at international and UK conferences. They will benefit from the international environment of the project by exchanging with our national and international collaborators. In particular, this project involves our strategic partners at NTU (Singapore) so the student will liaise with their institute and they may have the opportunity to spend some time there.

Institute of Photonics

The Institute of Photonics (IoP), part of the Department of Physics, is a centre of excellence in applications-oriented research at the University of Strathclyde - The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 Scottish University of the Year, The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education 2019, The Times Higher Education UK University of the Year 2019/20 (and 2012/13), The Times Higher Education Widening Participation Initiative of the Year 2019 and UK Entrepreneurial University of the Year 2013/14. The Institute’s key objective is to bridge the gap between academic research and industrial applications and development in the area of photonics. The IoP is located in the £100M Technology and Innovation Centre on Strathclyde’s Glasgow city centre campus, at the heart of Glasgow’s Innovation District, where it is co-located with the UK’s first Fraunhofer Research Centre. Researchers at the IoP are active in a broad range of photonics fields under the areas of Photonic Devices, Advanced Lasers and Neurophotonics, please see Our Research.

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Funding details

The funding covers the full stipend and tuition fees at the home rate (not the international rate). To be classed as a home student, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK national (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter.
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Dr Nicolas Laurand

Principal Research Fellow
Institute of Photonics

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Professor Martin Dawson

Institute of Photonics

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Applicants should send an up-to-date CV to