Funded Positions

Students interested in these projects are encouraged to contact the group for more information. The group actively seeks applicants from all backgrounds.


4-year Funded PhD in Ultramicroscopy

We are offering one fully-funded PhD position (4 years) for September 2022 start in the area of high resolution imaging of perovskites.

The overarching goal of the research is to advance the fundamental understanding of antiferroelectricity in PbZrO3 thin films and nanostructures, through multipronged theoretical and experimental studies of nanoscale polarisation. Specifically, we will address the nanoscale organisation of dielectric dipoles in oxides that can lead to macroscopic presence or absence of switchable polarisation. Together with collaborators, this work will correlate microscopic structural changes with macroscopic properties in this archetypal antiferroelectric, exploring the stability of classical antiferroelectric (AFE), ferrielectric (FiE), and ferroelectric (FE) behaviour in PbZrO3 thin films and nanostructures.

The PhD student will be responsible for the high-resolution imaging of the materials at the atomic scale. They will be trained to perform aberration corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy of the specimens using the Nion UltraSTEM200 based at the Advanced Microscopy Laboratory in Trinity College Dublin. These results will then feed into the wider collaborative partnership.

The ideal applicant will have a 1st Class or 2:1 Master's or Honours Bachelor’s degree in Physics, Materials Science, or related disciplines. Previous experience with electron microscopy or perovskites/oxides would be a bonus but not essential. The researcher will work independently, but also closely with other members of a multidisciplinary project team. Excellent written and oral communication skills are essential.

Further details

This project will be supervised by Prof Lewys Jones and Dr Jonathan Peters. A stipend of €18,500 p.a. will be paid to the student (paid monthly). Fees are provided up to the EU fee level*. Non-EU students will need to provide the fee difference of approx. €10,500 p.a..

* For this 2022 intake, following government announcements, we expect that Ukrainian nationals displace by the war will be considered eligible for the EU fees status and will have their whole PhD fees covered.

The Ultramicroscopy Group and the School of Physics welcomes applications from all qualified candidates, and applications are particularly encouraged from all genders / ethnicities / backgrounds traditionally under-represented in Physics.

How to apply

Candidates should email applications as a single combined PDF including a cover letter (1 page max.) outlining their motivation and fit with the project, and a CV (2 pages max) to Applications will close at 5pm Friday 8th July. We hope to shortlist and interview very soon after.

Rolling PhD Opportunities

Enquiries from interested students are always welcome under the Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Programme. We are open to project ideas, but below are listed some potential projects we are be interested in. The Ultramicroscopy Group and the School of Physics welcomes applications from all qualified candidates, and applications are particularly encouraged from all genders/ethnicities/backgrounds traditionally under-represented in Physics. Interested applicants should contact the group for more details.

High-precision structural imaging of materials at the picometre scale

We are looking for PhD candidates in the area of high-precision structural imaging of materials at the picometre scale.

The scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) facilities available at Trinity College Dublin are capable of imaging materials down to the atomic level. A high energy beam of electrons is concentrated to a spot less than 80 pm in diameter, scanned across a sample and atomic resolution images of scattering and spectroscopy signals can be collected. This makes STEM an indispensable technique for modern materials science and nanotechnology. However, the scanned nature of the acquisition, and the concentrated beam of electrons, presents difficulties in time resolution and specimen damage. The Ultramicroscopy Group is pushing developments in state-of-the-art beam-scanning strategies and hardware to mitigate this and advance the next generation of STEM.

This project will combine with the group’s recent developments and apply them to materials science problems in fields such as ferroelectricity. We are targeting the highest possible precision data with the least possible beam damage. We are keen to make use of our new, state-of-the-art segmented detector for differential phase contrast imaging. With this we want to push spatial and temporal resolution as well as quantitative measurements of electromagnetic fields. Quantitative assessment of data fidelity will be key and critical thinking skills will be essential.

Leveraging the modern data-science toolkit for atomic-resolution microscopy

This project will see you start in the area of data-science in the scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM). By working closely with experimentalists, you will deliver new approaches in data-streaming, data-compression, feature extraction, and data visualisation. Research topics may include compressed-sensing, data in-painting and experiment design optimisation.

Proposed Final-year Projects

Final-year Physics undergraduate students interested in electron microscopy are encouraged to get in touch to discuss potential projects in the Advanced Microscopy Laboratory. Some example topic titles are listed below.


  • "Correlating lab environment with atomic-scale measurement errors"
  • "Monitoring and modelling liquid nitrogen consumption in electron microscopes"
  • "Monitoring and modelling liquid nitrogen consumption in electron microscopes"
  • "Modelling energy usage in large-scale research infrastructure"

Summer Internship Opportunities

The Ultramicroscopy group, based in the Advanced Microscopy Laboratory may be able to offer summer work experience for Trinity undergraduates. Interested students should contact the group for more details.