Materials Under Extreme Conditions


Applications are invited for a PhD studentship starting in October 2013 in the Liquid and Amorphous Materials Group of Professor Phil Salmon, part of the larger Nanoscience team within the Department of Physics at the University of Bath.


Brief Description of the Project

Diamond is a classic example of a material with important functional properties that, having been formed from carbon at high pressures and high temperatures, is recovered to ambient conditions. But what happens to the structure and properties of other materials under extreme conditions? And in the case of liquids and glasses, are there so-called polyamorphic transformations where the structure and properties of the material change abruptly? Can disordered materials with novel optical and electronic properties be recovered to ambient conditions?

The main objective of this project is to study and understand the nanoscale response of network forming materials to extreme conditions. Example systems range from the covalently bonded glasses used for optical fibres to the hydrogen bonded conformations found in water and biological systems. The work will involve developing the methods needed to make appropriate neutron and x-ray scattering experiments at central facilities, including the Institut Laue-Langevin, ISIS and the ESRF. Work at the ILL is supported by a Long Term Proposal which is enabling the required instrumentation to be developed over a 3 year period. The project will receive theoretical support from colleagues in Oxford and Strasbourg.



Applicants should have a background in the physical sciences and have or expect to gain a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent from an overseas University. Possible funding sources include the Doctoral Training Account (for UK applicants) or, for exceptional overseas candidates, a University studentship.


Please contact Professor Phil Salmon ( for further information on the project - website

Text Box: Some contentious issues in need of a solution

As in the Jules Verne classic, the application of extreme pressures and temperatures can lead to some unexpected and exciting (but not equivalent!) results.