Glass Nanostructure


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

The incorporation of rare-earth ions into oxide or chalcogenide glasses confers the resultant materials with many interesting opto-electronic and magneto-optical properties which give them application as, for example, lasers and Faraday rotators.  It is therefore desirable to understand the interactions between the rare-earth ions, and their mediation by the matrix material, in order to develop realistic microscopic models.  Hence progress is dependent on the provision of unambiguous information on a nanometre scale about both the relative distribution of rare-earth ions and the structure of the glassy matrix in which they are incorporated.


The aim of this project is to understand the nanostructure and dynamics of several glasses of both fundamental scientific and technological importance by using a joint experimental and theoretical approach.  Specifically, neutron and x-ray scattering experiments, made using in-house apparatus together with central facilities in the UK, France and USA, will be used to measure the glass structure and dynamics and the results will be interpreted using molecular dynamics (including Car-Parrinello) and Monte Carlo computer simulations.  The project will build on the expertise of the liquids and amorphous materials group in Bath and its extensive network of international collaborations.  The work benefits from substantial EPSRC support.




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

The structure of crystalline rare-earth metaphosphate YbP3O9.  The purple octahedra represent Yb3+ centred coordination polyhedra, the yellow tetrahedra represent PO4 motifs, and the red spheres represent the oxygen atoms of the PO4 motifs.  What happens to the structure when the material is made glassy?