Imperial College London

Dr Michele (Shelly) Conroy

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Materials

University Research Fellow
 
 
 
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Contact

 

m.conroy

 
 
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Location

 

Royal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus

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Summary

 

Funded PhD Positions

Funded by CDT in Advanced Characterisation of Materials

PhD application deadline: December 14th 2021 

1. Exploring Novel Polar Topologies for Low Power Nano-electronics

Description: Devices based on nanoscale ferroelectric polarisation structures with unusual polar topologies overturn the classical idea that our electronic circuits need to consist of fixed hardware components. Ferroelectric domain walls, polar vortices and polar skyrmions can be easily created, destroyed and moved about simply by an applied stimulus, without harming the crystal structure, thus making them ideal for reconfigurable electronics. At the same time, their diverse physical properties, which are distinct from those of the host material, combined with their dynamic nature and low power requirements, bring new functionality to a range of devices, including transistors and capacitors for conventional logic and storage, and memristive elements for neuromorphic computing. However, to harness their true potential there is a great deal of fundamental physics yet to uncover. As domain walls are usually only a few atoms thick and highly dynamic, it is essential to characterise them at the relevant spatial and temporal scale.

Institution: University College London & Imperial College London, with a research placement at SuperSTEM
Supervisor(s): Dr Pavlo Zubko (UCL) & Dr Michele Conroy (IC)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC

Essential candidate background/skills: Candidates must have a First Class or Upper Second-Class honours degree in an appropriate field such as Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science or a related subject.

Nationality restrictions: UK or Irish citizens, or EU student with settled or pre-settled status, who has resided in the UK for the past 3 years 
Suitable for part-time/flexible study: Yes

Example of research: Metal–ferroelectric supercrystals with periodically curved metallic layers

Vortex


2. Investigating the Nanoscale Solid–Liquid Interface for Next Generation Batteries via Cryogenic Sub-atomic Scale electron Microscopy

Description: Improving the lifetime and performance of energy storage devices is key to a green-energy society. The interface of the electrolyte and electrode plays the most crucial role in batteries and capacitors. However due to the liquid phase of the electrolyte and the volatile nature of Li, characterising this region is challenging. Cryogenic sample preparation and microscopy analysis exploited for biological research has more recently been used for battery characterisation. The cryogenic vacuum conditions allows one to have an undistorted view of the resulting electrochemical reactions at these very complex interfaces. In this project we will investigate new compositions of nanomaterials and deposition methods for the next generation energy storage. There is a vast field of unexplored fundamental questions to be addressed for these energy materials that is only possible now with the development for cryogenic microscopy instrumentation and direct electron detectors for damage free imaging and spectroscopy.

Institution: University College London & Imperial College London, with a research placement at SuperSTEM
Supervisor(s): Dr Michele Conroy (ICL), Prof Baptiste Gault (ICL) & Prof Valeria Nicolosi (TCD)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC

Essential candidate background/skills: Candidates must have a First Class or Upper Second-Class honours degree in an appropriate field such as Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science or a related subject.

Nationality restrictions: UK or Irish citizens, or EU student with settled or pre-settled status, who has resided in the UK for the past 3 years 
Suitable for part-time/flexible study: Yes

Examples of research: 

High areal capacity battery electrodes enabled by segregated nanotube networks & High capacity silicon anodes enabled by MXene viscous aqueous ink

Correlating advanced microscopies reveals atomic-scale mechanisms limiting lithium-ion battery lifetime & Atom probe analysis of battery materials: challenges and ways forward

cryo

Funded by: CDT in Nuclear Energy Futures Research

3. Atomic-scale cryogenic microscopy to understand degradation of vitrified waste

Description: Here we have a very exciting opportunity for you to be at the forefront of the development of atomic-scale liquid-solid corrosion mechanisms through application of new methodologies including state-of-the-art cryogenic microscopy and microanalysis to bring insights into the native hydrated state at interfaces within physical systems. The primary framework of this project is in the vitrification process that is used to encapsulate and stabilize high-level radioactive waste in a glass form, for long term safe, storage. Understanding the corrosion mechanisms involved in the reactions between glass and atmospheric water vapor conditions is fundamental to long-term assessment of nuclear waste glasses. For this project you will focus on innovative cryogenic sample preparation to target specific regions of interest at altered corrosion layers of glass and perform atomic-scale microscopy using our world-unique infrastructure. This project will push the boundaries of light element identification at pico-meter scale resolution to advance our understanding of corrosion processes.

Institution: Imperial College London
Supervisor(s): Dr Michele Conroy (IC), Prof Mary Ryan (IC) and Prof Baptiste Gault (IC)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and Imperial College London

Essential candidate background/skills: Candidates must have a First Class or Upper Second-Class honours degree in an appropriate field such as Physics, Chemistry or Materials Science or a related subject.
Desirable candidate background/skills: Data analysis, research laboratory experience, mathematics, coding, computer modelling and simulation.

Nationality restrictions: No.
Suitable for part-time/flexible study: Yes.

Longer PhD project description

Imperial Centre for Cryo Microscopy of Materials