EPSRC I-CASE DPhil studentship with Merck

3.5 year available from 1st October 2016 (subject to eligibility requirements below).


Research Area - Direct Laser Writing of 3-Dimensional Polymeric Structures in Liquid Crystalline Materials for Next-Generation Photonic Devices

The studentship is being jointly undertaken by the University of Oxford (Professor Steve Elston, Professor Martin Booth and Dr Stephen Morris) and Merck under the EPSRC Industrial CASE award scheme. The studentship can, in principle, start at any time from the 1st October 2016.

Photonic structures have a multitude of potential applications ranging from low/zero-threshold laser devices to on-chip waveguides. However, the fabrication of such structures is by no means trivial, often requiring layer-to-layer assemblies that are generally time-consuming and dependent upon the availability of large capital equipment. Alternatively, one of the more potentially elegant routes towards fabricating photonic structures is to use organic, polymer-based materials combined with direct laser writing (DLW). The objective of this DPhil project would be to create a range of novel nano- and micron-sized polymer structures directly within liquid crystal (LC) devices for a range of new photonics technologies. The project will begin by creating polymer structures and networks at precise locations within the LC device and will use holographic techniques to create multiple structures simultaneously so as to build-up a complete lattice structure. Following the fabrication of these materials, studies will be carried out to characterise the structural morphology using SEM and TEM as well as the resulting optical and electro-optic properties of the materials/devices. As the project develops, we will experiment with writing various 1, 2 and 3-dimensional network structures into LC materials and devices in an attempt to form, stabilise, and explore the behaviour of entirely new LC director arrangements and potentially novel electro-optic effects.

For this project, the DPhil student would be based in the Soft-Matter Photonics group and the Dynamic Optics and Photonics group (http://www.eng.ox.ac.uk/dop) in the Department of Engineering Science. The studentship is being jointly undertaken by the University of Oxford (Professors Martin Booth, Stephen Morris and Steve Elston) and Merck under the EPSRC Industrial CASE award scheme.


Award Value

The studentship covers University fees at the level set for UK students plus a stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) of £14,296 p.a. for the first year (with up to an additional £3k) and at least this amount for a further two and a half years. The studentship does cover the payment of college fees (c £2765 p.a.).


To be eligible for a full award (stipend and fees) a student must be a UK citizen.

Candidate Requirements

Prospective candidates will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria:

  • A first class honours (or high 2.1) degree in Electrical Engineering, Physics, or Materials;
  • Strong interest in photonics;
  • Excellent English written and spoken communication skills.

The following skills are desirable but not essential:

  • Ability to program in C/C++;
  • Ability to program in Matlab;
  • Experience with Linux and Windows.

Application Procedure

To apply for this studentship, candidates should send the following documents to graduate.studies@eng.ox.ac.uk:

  • CV
  • Covering letter (explaining your suitability for the study, what you hope to achieve from the DPhil and your research experience to date)
  • Contact details for two academic or professional referees

NOTE: Candidates are expected to meet the graduate admissions criteria available at http://www.eng.ox.ac.uk/study-here/postgraduate/how-to-apply and a full graduate application must be made at the same time as applying for this studentship.  Your studentship application will not be considered until you have submitted a graduate application. Further details about making a graduate application are available at http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/applying-to-oxford.

Please quote MERCK_SM in all correspondence to the Department and in your graduate application.

Informal enquiries may be addressed to Dr Stephen Morris (stephen.morris@eng.ox.ac.uk). Please note that applications sent directly to this email address will not be accepted.

Application deadline: As soon as a suitable applicant is found.