Ground State Photochemistry

Do you enjoy exciting, cross-disciplinary and cutting-edge research? We invite applications for a PhD studentship, starting on 1 October 2021, as part of a £7.25 M collaborative project funded by EPSRC and led by Prof G. J. Leggett.


You will be part of a team of scientists across the Universities of Sheffield, Bristol and Exeter with lead investigators in Chemistry (Prof S. P. Armes FRS, Prof J. Weinstein and Prof N. H. Williams (Sheffield)), Biology (Prof C. N. Hunter FRS (Sheffield) and Prof D. N. Woolfson (Bristol)), Physics (Dr J. Clark, (Sheffield) and Prof W. L. Barnes (Exeter)) and the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health (Prof D. W. Lambert).

The aim of our programme is to develop a new, modular approach for the creation of photonic materials, inspired by biological photosynthetic membranes. We call this approach 'molecular photonic breadboards': minimal units - synthetic antenna complexes - are designed from scratch to organise molecular components precisely in space. These building blocks are assembled to form nanostructured films. We will exploit the exciting new physics of strong light-matter coupling, in which excitons (molecular excited states) are hybridised with confined optical modes (localised surface plasmon resonances) to create new states (plexcitons) that combine the properties of light and matter.


Our goal is to control energy transfer pathways from the nm to the cm scale, and is to lay the foundations for a revolution in the design of molecular photonic materials.

PhD 3: Ground State Photochemistry
Lead Supervisor: Prof Graham Leggett, Department of Chemistry


Strong light-matter coupling leads to the formation of plexcitonic states, which can be treated as oscillators. Thus, the plexciton ground state has a non-zero energy. In principle, the properties of these “vacuum states” can be manipulated via synergistic control of the properties of the molecular excitons and the localised surface plasmon resonance, and used  to drive photochemical reactions. In this project, you will design nanostructured plasmonic assemblies containing photoreactive molecules that can be used to drive entirely new kinds of chemical reaction, characterised using spectroscopy and scanning probe microscopy.

All studentships will be supervised collaboratively by two members of the team. 

For more information and for details on how to apply, please visit:

The University of Sheffield Jobs


1. Tsargorodska, A.; Cartron, M. L.; Vasilev, C.; Kodali, G.; Mass, O. A.; Baumberg, J. J.; Dutton, P. L.; Hunter, C. N.; Törmä, P.; Leggett, G. J. Nano Lett. 2016, 16, 6850−6856.

2. Lishchuk, A.; Kodali, G.; Mancini, J. A.; Broadbent, M.; Darroch, B.; Mass, O. A.; Nabok, A.; Dutton, P. L.; Hunter, C. N.; Törmä, P.; Leggett, G. J. Nanoscale 2018, 10, 13064-13073.