University of Cambridge

Job Opportunities


PhD Studentship in Physics (Fixed Term)

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 3.5 years in the first instance.

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship in the group of Dr Akshay Rao ( at the Cavendish Laboratory (Department of Physics), University of Cambridge, UK, starting in October 2021.

We have recently made a breakthrough with the development of optical light scattering microscopy to track and quantify ion dynamics and phase transitions operando in battery materials directly at the single particle level, with sub-ms time-resolution and sub-20nm spatial precision. We envision that this new microscopy methodology, with this ability to provide real-time insights into nanoscale electronic and structural phase transitions, coupled with its straightforward lab-based implementation, could see it become an indispensable tool for high-throughput material discovery and mechanistic studies (Nature 2021, In Press, Preprint:

The PhD project will build on this recent breakthrough and extend the methodology to enable studies in all three spatial dimensions (+ 1 temporal dimension) via the use of quantitative phase imaging, which will enable the study of ion flow within the complex three-dimensional structures common to battery electrodes. Key project objectives will include construction of an optical scattering microscope and implementation of quantitative phase imaging to allow for access to information in the z dimension, development of new data processing algorithms to enable rapid processing of the 4D scattering data and identifying key features associated with ion dynamics and phase transitions and finally application of the developed methodology to samples produced by our collaborators.

The successful candidate should have a good first degree and a Masters in Physics, Chemistry or a related area. They should be enthusiastic to learn optics, microscopy, optical setup design and software analysis of large microscopy datasets. Prior knowledge in any of these areas would be a plus. We provide a highly collaborative, international and dynamic working environment and the successful candidate must be able to work closely with group members as well with our collaborators in the Department of Chemistry (Grey Group) and industrial collaborators.

The studentship will provide a tax-free stipend that will cover tuition fees and living expense (at the URKI rate, £15,609 per year for 2020/21). This will cover all costs for UK citizen and EU citizens with Settled or Pre-settled status in the UK. The studentship cannot support fees at the overseas fee rate. The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK. The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.

If you are interested in a position please contact Dr Akshay Rao,, ASAP. It is very IMPORTANT that you contact Dr Akshay Rao first, as you will need to be invited to make a formal PhD application as outlined on the University website.

Please quote reference KA26381 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.