Controlling nanoparticle morphology through chemical doping
Metallic nanoparticles play an increasing important role in emerging areas within scientific disciplines such as medicine, optics and catalytic chemistry.
The applicability of nanoparticles in these fields is strongly dependent on their physical and chemical properties, which are in turn defined by the nanoparticle’s structure and composition. (1) One method of controlling the nanoparticle properties, whilst also introducing potentially beneficial synergistic effects, is to combine two or more chemical elements. This synergy, from the multiple elemental species, can improve stability and reactivity, as well as bringing an additional degree of choice for chemical design: the chemical arrangement of elements can be varied, for instance alloyed or segregated, to improve a desired property.
Studying the effects when combining different elements in bimetallic systems, at varying system size, can be difficult and time-consuming in a laboratory. However, the implicit size of the nanoparticles makes them ideal for investigations using well-developed computational chemistry techniques. Recently, we have used such techniques to illustrate how tuning the chemical composition of an AuAg bimetallic nanoparticle can be used to control the stability of a specific structure, (2) and how just low concentrations of a dopant species can be used to control the height of energetic barriers between different nanoparticle structures (3).
Whilst our results have been informative, many outstanding questions remain in this area of research and require further attention:
- Are the effects we see general to all metallic nanoparticles, or specific to individual combinatorial arrangements?
- Can a dopant concentration/arrangement be tuned so only a handful of atoms of a secondary species would improve the stability of specific user-defined geometries?
- How can the synthesis environment be tuned to benefit the manufacture of user-defined nanoparticle geometries?
These are some of the questions to be addressed in this PhD project.
- (1) A. L. Gould et al. (2014), Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 16 (39), 21049
- (2) A. L. Gould et al. (2015), J. Phys. Chem. C, 119 (41), 23685
- (3) A. L. Gould et al. (2016), J. Phys. Chem. Lett., Articles ASAP
We require applicants to have a 2:2 BSc or equivalent to be considered for PhD study.
If English is not your first language that you must fulfil our English Language criteria before the start of your studies.
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This PhD post is open to self funded Home, EU and International students.