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Doctoral student in a lab

Controlled wetting: From liquids to anisotropic liquid crystals

  • School: School of Science and Technology
  • Starting: 2021
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


The project seeks to grow our understanding of how liquids wet and flow across natural and fabricated surfaces with diverse properties, and therefore how these aspects of liquid behaviour can be controlled and exploited. As such the results will be relevant to a wide range of fields from flood abatement and irrigation to precision printing, lab-on chip technology and electro-optic display manufacturing.

The behaviour of a liquid on a solid surface is known to be controlled by many factors, such as the surface energies, the micro- and nano-scale texture of the surface and by fields (electric, magnetic, gravitational) imposed on the interface. Our group has previously made important contributions to understanding these effects and together with collaborators our knowledge has allowed us to pioneer new approaches to their control by liquid dielectrophoresis and develop new LCD display effects, among other innovations. This project will start in January 2021 and will extend our work into new directions and will aim to generate new effects and applications based on novel material and experimental configurations.

The project will require fabrication of device structures on a variety of scales, using methods such as photolithography, micromoulding, soft contact lithography and mechanical machining or assembly. Chemical pattering of surfaces and incorporation of microscale electrodes will be needed, and the PhD Research Student will become familiar with a variety of microfabrication techniques. The liquids used will range from familiar conductive and dielectric materials to strongly non-Newtonian fluids such as colloids and liquid crystals. The latter are of additional interest for their anisotropic response to electric and magnetic fields. Studies of liquid response will use methods such as high-speed video and Optical Coherence Tomography while device structures will be developed using optical and electron microscopy. The student will be expected to disseminate their results through publication in leading journals and research conferences, and to engage with collaborators to achieve the highest impact from the work. The project will provide an excellent basis for the student to develop their knowledge and experience aligned with a future industrial or academic career.

The successful applicant will bring background knowledge or experience that is relevant to at least one of the sub-areas described above within project scopes and techniques, and show enthusiasm for working together with other members of the research team as well as with wider collaborators such as experimental and theoretical groups in wetting and liquid crystals. 

Links to our Research Group: Please see Professor Carl Brown, and

Duration: typical three years full time

Start date: January 2021


Professor Carl Brown

Entry qualifications

A first class or upper second class Bachelor’s degree (e.g. BSc, BEng) or Integrated Masters (e.g. MPhys, MSci, MEng) with Honours in Physics, Electrical/Electronic Engineering, Materials Science or one of the related Physical or Engineering Sciences. Applicants holding a relevant Master’s degree (e.g. MSc, MRes) should also hold Bachelor’s degree with Honours with at least a lower second class grade. U.K. or International equivalent qualifications are acceptable.

How to apply

How to apply

The deadline for applications is 26 October 2020.

Download an application form here.
Please make sure you take a look at our application guidance notes before making your application.

Further information on how to apply can be found on this page.

Fees and funding

Directly Funded Project (Students Worldwide).

Stipend and Tuition fee waiver funding is provided by Nottingham Trent University. This funding provides a stipend for 36 months, and waiver of the UK proportion of tuition fees for 36 months. International candidates would need to pay the difference between International and UK tuition fees.

Guidance and support

Further guidance and support on how to apply can be found on this page.

Still need help?

Professor Carl Brown