PhD Scholarship Programmable Anisotropic Soft Materials at The University of Queensland

A new opening PhD position in engineering education is available at The University of Queensland, Australia. The funding allows successful candidate to work for three years. Applications are welcome before July 15, 2020.

The School of Chemical Engineering is an international leader in the chemical engineering field and has an excellent reputation, built over many decades at The University of Queensland.

We deliver quality programs and leadership in chemical engineering education, research and development, and expert consulting to support the process industries. Undergraduate (Undergraduate scholarships) teaching within the School focuses on the disciplines of chemical, biological, environmental and metallurgical engineering and postgraduate programs are available in growing fields including water, sustainable energy (latest sustainable energy scholarship positions) and petroleum (petroleum scholarships) engineering.

Many natural materials exhibit extraordinary properties. For example, butterfly wings are highly coloured despite not containing dye molecules and mollusc shells exhibit high fracture toughness despite being comprised of 95% of a brittle mineral. These properties are dictated by the spatial orientation of nanostructures that make up the materials over many length scales, hence the ability to control structural hierarchy when designing new materials is crucial to obtain outstanding properties. Our recent discovery of a Liquid crystal hydroglass (LCH) provides an exciting avenue to control the structural hierarchy and hence properties of soft materials. LCH is a biphasic soft material with flow programmable anisotropy that forms via phase separation in suspensions of charged colloidal rods upon increases in ionic strength.

This project aims to expand on the materials space for LCH materials in order to create viscoelastic materials with complex rheology as well as structural, mechanical and optical heterogeneity. The intended outcome is enabling the creation of anisotropic materials with shape-memory and shape-restoring features for the realization of artificial muscles, novel biomedical devices, soft robotics (robotics scholarships) and morphing structures.

Project 1 aims to develop thermo- and/or photo-responsive LCH materials by surface functionalising nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) colloidal rods. The student will design and synthesise block copolymers that self-assemble to the surface of the nanocellulose and characterise their interfacial chemistry and phase behaviour.

Alternatively, Project 2 aims to explore and diversify the materials space for LCH materials and their rheological properties. This project will vary solution properties and matrix rheology/composition for NCC suspensions, as well as investigate the presence and properties of LCH phases in a diverse range of anisotropic charged colloids.

The projects are part of an Australian Research Council Discovery Project involving collaboration between School of Chemical Engineering, Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, Centre for Advanced Imaging, Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis at the UQ, and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

The 2020 Research Training Program (RTP) living allowance stipend rate is AUD$28,092 per annum (indexed annually), which is tax-free for three years with two possible extensions of up to 6 months each in approved circumstances (conditions apply).

Please visit the advertisement on the Grad School website ( for information on how to apply. Please do not click the apply button.

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