University of Cambridge

Job Opportunities


EPSRC DTP Studentship - The mechanics of liquid crystal elastomers

Liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs) are an exciting new form of soft-solid that combines the orientational order of a liquid crystal with the large strain elasticity of a rubber. More precisely, they are rubber-like solids constructed from rigid molecular rods, which spontaneously align within the elastomer along a common direction. On heating or illumination, the alignment is disrupted, causing the LCE to spontaneous contraction by a large factor (>50%). Thus LCEs are soft solids that contract on demand: an enticing analogue of a biological muscle.

This project aims to use LCE actuation to design and create complex shape-morphing structures and/or soft mechanical machines. The Biggins group combines theory and fabrication, and this position would be suitable for a candidate with a primary interest in either.

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2.1 degree in Physics, Mathematics, Engineering or other related subject.

EPSRC DTP studentships are fully-funded (fees and maintenance) for eligible UK students. International (including EU) students will be considered for partial funding (home-level fees and maintenance) from the DTP. We recommend that international students apply by 3 December, in order to be put forward for funding from the Cambridge Trust for the home-overseas fee difference if selected.

Further details about eligibility and funding can be found at:

Applications should be submitted via the University of Cambridge Applicant Portal, with John Biggins identified as the potential supervisor.

Note that there is a £70 fee for PhD applications.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.