The European Research Council (ERC) announced today its intention to fund a five-year, €1.7M research programme aimed at understanding and exploiting local-structure-property relationships in “nanostructured” materials. From the proposal summary:

Many materials of fundamental importance possess structures that do not exhibit long-range periodicity. The absence of Bragg reflections in the diffraction patterns of these materials precludes the use of traditional crystallographic techniques as a means of determining their atomic-scale structures. Yet it is clear that these materials do possess well-defined local structure on the nanometre scale; moreover it is often this local structure that is implicated in the particular physical properties of interest. For this reason, the development of systematic information-based methodologies for the determination of local structure in disordered materials remains one of the key challenges in modern structural science; this is sometimes referred to as the “nanostructure problem”. This proposal addresses this issue by aiming

  1. to develop robust methodologies for determining nano-scale structure in amorphous and highly-disordered systems, with an emphasis on laboratory-based techniques,
  2. then to use these techniques to develop structural models that will help address key scientific questions in a broad range of fields, and
  3. to apply the intuition gained to design new materials that exploit disorder to yield next-generation materials with desirable functionalities.

As part of the project, there will be advertised shortly a 5-year postdoctoral research associate position within the group to start October 2011. Potentially interested candidates are encouraged to contact Andrew informally at this stage for further details; a formal advertisement will be posted on the relevant Oxford Chemistry webpage as soon as possible. Informal enquiries regarding DPhil studentships commencing either October 2011 or October 2012 are also welcomed.

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