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Fully Funded (Home/EU Rate) PhD Studentship (Fixed Term) - Generalisation and Characterisation Metal-Organic Framework Liquids and Glasses

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 3 years in the first instance.

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship investigating the liquid and glass-forming ability of metal-organic frameworks, under the supervision of Dr Thomas Bennett. The project is also being supported in part by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), with the successful candidate being based in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge

Their stability and malleability means glasses and organic polymers are heavily employed across the materials spectrum, in strikingly diverse applications such as DVD re-writable technology, medicine and photovoltaics. Three categories of melt-quenched glass are currently accepted: (i) inorganic (non-metallic), (ii) organic and (iii) metallic. However, we are largely unable to accurately design amorphous materials with precisely defined properties, due to the limited chemical functionality that can be incorporated into glassy substances.

Such problems of chemical limitation are not encountered in a family of materials called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), consisting of over 55,000 compounds. These three-dimensional structures are formed from the self-assembly of inorganic nodes and organic bridging ligands, into highly ordered networks with exceptionally high surface areas (>7000 m2g-1). Whilst opportunities in e.g. gas sorption and separation, drug delivery and harmful waste storage afforded by their chemically 'tunable' structures are extensively researched, their physical behaviours are poorly understood. This group has recently shown that a selection of MOFs can be melted to form liquids, with quenching yielding glasses of high chemical tenability.

This project aims to assess a new family of MOFs for their glass-forming ability, and produce functional liquids and glasses via altering the melting of known glass-forming MOFs. Candidates will gain experience in e.g. the synthesis of hybrid materials, characterization by high energy diffraction, pair distribution function measurements and differential scanning calorimetry. Characterization of mechanical and optical properties of the glasses produced will also be pursued. As part of the project, opportunities to travel to collaborators in China, Denmark, and Australia will be provided.

Applicants should have (or expect to be awarded) an upper second or first class UK honours degree at the level of MSci, MEng (or overseas equivalents) in a relevant science subject (e.g. Metallurgy, Materials Science, Physics,Chemistry) and should meet the criteria for UK/EU residency and be liable for 'home rate' fees.


Bennett et al, Nat. Chem., 2017, 9, 11-16 Bennett et al, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2016, 138, 3484-3492 Thornton et al, Chem. Commun., 2016, 52, 3750-3753 Bennett et al, Nat. Commun, 2015, 6, 8079

Sponsor: supported by the Royal Society, with a component from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). 'Home rate' students.

Application forms and the Graduate Studies Prospectus are available from the University website ( Further information on the application process is available from Dr Rosie Ward (

Informal enquiries may be made by email to Dr Thomas Bennett (

Please quote reference LJ11565 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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