Research Supervisor Connect

Designing new nano-structured materials for solar energy and health


While methods for making nanostructured materials are often slow or energy intensive, self-assembly of nanoscale objects promises to be scalable and low-energy and could thus propel a new wave of development in what is already a $20 billion nanotechnology industry. Today we can make nanoparticles with a vast range of unique properties, shapes and patterns, however organising them into extended structures that could revolutionize technology remains a challenge. This project will use computer simulations to improve our ability to control the spatial arrangement of rod-shaped particles into structures with potential applications in filtration, sensing and solar energy capture.


Dr Asaph Widmer-Cooper.

Research location

School of Chemistry

Program type



You will apply new computational methods developed within our group to characterise the interactions between colloidal nanorods and/or their self-assembly in the presence of interfaces and patchy interactions. Important questions that this project will address include: how the presence of molecules on the surface of nanoparticles can be used to tune their interaction, how rod-shaped particles interact with interfaces, and how these interactions can be manipulated to assemble complex ordered structures. You will address these questions using an array of computational tools and statistical mechanics, including molecular dynamics and Monte Carlo simulation, in collaboration with leading experimental groups in Australia and around the globe. The expected outcome is a robust strategy for making a variety of ordered structures with potential applications in solar energy, sensing and security.

The ideal candidate will have an honours degree in Chemistry or Physics (or a related field), and some knowledge of statistical mechanics and molecular simulation techniques. Most importantly, we are looking for curious, creative, and enthusiastic people with a high level of motivation and persistence. 

Additional information

Top-up scholarships of $5,000 p.a. are available for students with a good first-class honours degree, and additional awards are available for exceptional students (see

International students will need to apply for a scholarship that covers tuition fees (e.g. IPRS) or have appropriate funding from another source.

This project is suited to students with an interest in physical chemistry, materials, mathematics and computers. 
HDR Inherent Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

Want to find out more?

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2004

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