Chemistry: Fully Funded EPSRC & Swansea University PhD: Studying Molecule-Surface Interaction Potentials Using Magnetic Molecular Interference Experiments (RS587)

  • DeadlineDeadline: 22 April 2024
  • WalesWales


Closing date: 22 April 2024

Funding providers: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Swansea University's Faculty of Science and Engineering

Subject areas: Quantum-state resolved collisions, Molecular Beams, Surface Science 

Project start date: 

  • 1 October 2024 (Enrolment open from mid-September)
  • 1 January 2025 (Enrolment open from mid-December)


Aligned programme of study: PhD in Chemistry

Mode of study: Full-time 

Project description: 

The interaction between a molecule and a surface lies at the heart of a huge range of topics, including industrial catalysis, green energy production, re-entry of space vehicles into the atmosphere and even the physics and chemistry of star creation in the interstellar medium.  

While the equations which govern the interaction between a molecule and a surface are well know, there are a lot of atoms/electrons involved, and even the most power computers cannot accurately model surface systems. The usual solution to this, is to model surface systems using approximate calculation methods instead, methods which are constantly being improved. 

Our research group, which includes researchers with backgrounds in physics and/or chemistry, has developed a unique apparatus called the Magnetic Molecular Interferometer (MMI), which can both coherently control and resolve the rotational quantum states of ground state molecules in a way which is impossible using the more common laser-based techniques. The complex interference pattern measured by the MMI is one of the most sensitive observables of the interaction between a molecule and a solid surface, containing detailed information on the change of the quantum wave function during the collision event. The student will be working on a new EPSRC project (EP/X037886/1) which aims to extract the molecule-surface interaction potential directly from the experimental data. Empirical determination of molecule-surface potentials will be a major step towards developing reliable theoretical models and is expected to have an impact on a wide range of field and applications which rely on such calculations, including those mentioned above.  

To perform MMI experiments the student will learn how to use atomic and molecular beams, ultra-high-vacuum and cryogenic technology and a wide range of measurement instrumentation and surface science techniques. The project will also include analysis of MMI measurements and further developing numerical simulation tools which relate MMI measurements to the underlying interaction potential. The project will be performed in collaboration with the theoretical chemistry group at Leiden University and will include an opportunity to travel to Leiden for a training period of a few weeks.  

For more details please see here:

Entry Requirements

Candidates must hold an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level in chemistry, physics or a related subject. If you are eligible to apply for the scholarship (i.e. a student who is eligible to pay the UK rate of tuition fees) but do not hold a UK degree, you can check our comparison entry requirements (see country specific qualifications). Please note that you may need to provide evidence of your English Language proficiency. 

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to applicants eligible to pay tuition fees at the UK rate only, as defined by UKCISA regulations.  

If you have any questions regarding your academic or fee eligibility based on the above, please email with the web-link to the scholarship(s) you are interested in. 


This scholarship covers the full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend at £19,237.

Additional research expenses will also be available.

How To Apply

To apply, please complete your application online with the following information:

1. Course choice – please select Chemistry / PhD / Full-time / 3 Year / October (or January)

In the event you have already applied for the above programme previously, the application system may issue a warning notice and prevent application, in this event, please email where staff will be happy to assist you in submitting your application.

2. Start year – please select 2024 (or 2025)
3. Funding (page 8)

  • ‘Are you funding your studies yourself?’ – please select No
  • ‘Name of Individual or organisation providing funds for study’ – please enter ‘RS587 - Molecular Interference Experiments’

*It is the responsibility of the applicant to list the above information accurately when applying, please note that applications received without the above information listed will not be considered for the scholarship award.

One application is required per individual Swansea University led research scholarship award; applications cannot be considered listing multiple Swansea University led research scholarship awards.

We encourage you to complete the following to support our commitment to providing an environment free of discrimination and celebrating diversity at Swansea University: 

As part of your online application, you MUST upload the following documents (please do not send these via email):

  • CV
  • Degree certificates and transcripts (if you are currently studying for a degree, screenshots of your grades to date are sufficient)
  • A cover letter including a ‘Supplementary Personal Statement’ to explain why the position particularly matches your skills and experience and how you choose to develop the project.
  • Two references (academic or previous employer) on headed paper or using the Swansea University reference form. Please note that we are not able to accept references received citing private email accounts, e.g. Hotmail. Referees should cite their employment email address for verification of reference.
  • Evidence of meeting English Language requirement (if applicable).
  • Copy of UK resident visa (if applicable)
  • Confirmation of EDI form submission (optional) 

Informal enquiries are welcome, please contact Professor Gil Alexandrowicz (

*External Partner Application Data Sharing – Please note that as part of the scholarship application selection process, application data sharing may occur with external partners outside of the University, when joint/co- funding of a scholarship project is applicable.

Who is eligible to apply?

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to applicants eligible to pay tuition fees at the UK rate only, as defined by UKCISA regulations.  

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