Current PhD Scholarships

Current PhD Scholarships

The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology is New Zealand’s premier research organisation in materials science and nanotechnology. PhD studentships are now open across our research areas and partnership institutions. Successful candidates will become members of the MacDiarmid Institute, a national Centre of Research Excellence which provides collaborative opportunities and a thriving environment to work in.


As a MacDiarmid Institute PhD student you will be encouraged and financially supported to take advantage of the many opportunities we provide to broaden your experience and skills. Activities on offer include

  • 3-6 month industry internships
  • annual multi-day workshops on specialist topics such as communication, commercialisation and leadership
  • intensive annual multi-day bootcamps (held in remote and beautiful locations) where experts share their knowledge in an important current research area, and
  • outreach events, working with school teachers or children.


The MacDiarmid Emerging Scientists Association (MESA), run by students and postdocs, organizes additional activities.


Each scholarship is worth NZD$27,000  per annum (not taxed) and includes all student fees. Come to New Zealand to enjoy the best of life and science! 


For more details on specific projects, deadlines, etc – contact the appropriate MacDiarmid Institute Investigator  from the list below.



Functional Nanomaterials

Professor Cather Simpson School of Chemical Sciences University of Auckland Laser Micromachining for Tailored Surface Properties

Professor David Williams School of Chemical Sciences The University of Auckland

Functional nanostructures assembled by peptide and protein templating
Dr Geoff Willmott The Departments of Physics and Chemistry The University of Auckland

Polymer and metallic surfaces for interfacing with soft matter and photovoltaics

Dr Geoff Willmott The Departments of Physics and Chemistry The University of Auckland

Nanomechanics of individual soft nanoparticles

Professor Jadranka Travas-Sejdic School of Chemical Sciences University of Auckland  Capturing and detecting rare biological markers of diseases
Professor Penny Brothers School of Chemical Sciences University of Auckland Synthesis of conjugated molecules and magnetic particles for nanomaterials applications
Professor Sally Brooker Department of Chemistry University of Otago Design, synthesis and attachment of functional molecules to surfaces
Dr Jenny Malmström Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering University of Auckland

Design and characterisation of stimuli-responsive hydrogel biointerfaces​
Medical devices, biosensors and tissue engineering scaffolds all require materials to interface with cells, tissues or biomolecules. Substrate stiffness is an important modulator of cell attachment and differentiation and materials able to modulate the stiffness reversibly are very interesting for biointerface applications. This PhD project  aims to engineer an electrically addressable hydrogel system, where the stiffness can be modulated by applying an electric potential, which in turn would affect the behaviour of adherent cells.

Dr Volker Nock Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering University of Canterbury

Flexible microdevices for characterization of bionanomechanics in cancer
To design and build a proof-of-concept platform capable of applying measurable forces on groups of cells in 3D clusters using microfluidic channels with flexible actuators and force sensing arrays. This will be used to quantify the influence of the applied physical forces on ovarian cancer cell growth and spread. We expect to establish that forces exerted and experienced within small areas of tissues may stimulate or inhibit tumour growth, and conversely modification of those forces could induce tumour regression.

Dr Simon Granville Robinson Research Institute University of Wellington Perpendicularly magnetised Heusler alloys for spintronic devices
Spintronics is the field of research into materials and devices that use the spin of the electron for a new form of electronics that is low-power and intrinsically nanoscale. This PhD project is funded for 3 years and will investigate the fundamental physical characteristics of magnetic Heusler alloy thin films as well as their use in spintronic devices such as spin-torque oscillators and magnetic tunnel junctions.
We are looking for a student with a background in condensed matter physics, materials science or similar, preferably with some experience in lab-based materials physics experiments.
For further information, send an email with the title “Re: Heusler  spintronics PhD position” to Dr Simon Granville (
 Dr James Storey Robinson Research Institute University of Wellington

Realising high-pressure superconductors at ambient pressure

The quest for room-temperature superconductivity was recently  galvanised by the discovery of superconductivity at -70 degrees C in highly compressed sulphur hydride. 50 years ago it was predicted that compressed hydrogen (and hydrogen-rich compounds) would metallise and superconduct near room temperature. But the required pressures, exceeding 1 million bar, render such materials impractical. The challenge is how to stabilise superconductivity in these materials under ambient
pressures. This project meets that challenge by ion-implantation in a substrate, annealing to form nanoparticles and using the induced stress of the host matrix to apply pressure to the resultant superconducting nanoparticles.

We welcome applications for a student to join our dynamic team at the Robinson Research Institute of Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand’s premier research centre in superconductivity. We seek candidates with

– A basic knowledge of superconductivity and/or electronic properties of solid-state or condensed matter materials;
– Ideally some experience in cryogenic techniques and demonstrated capability in computational modelling.

Further information can be obtained from Dr. James Storey
( Applicants should submit a cover letter, CV, academic record and the names and contact details of two referees via email with the subject line “MacDiarmid PhD in superconductivity”.



Associate Professor Geoff Waterhouse School of Chemical Sciences University of Auckland 2D semiconductor photocatalysts for solar H2 production and CO2 reduction
Professor Shane Telfer IFS-Chemistry Massey University, Palmerston North

Synthesis of New Multicomponent Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) 

MOFs are an exciting class of porous materials with a raft of applications. The project will focus on the design, synthesis, and characterisation of MOFs for gas storage and separations.  Novel spectroscopic techniques will be employed to gain insight into the MOF structure and functional properties.The position is ideal for a student wishing to acquire expertise in a range of areas such as synthetic chemistry, crystallography, and materials characterisation.

Professor Thomas Nann School of Chemical and Physical Sciences Victoria University of Wellington Nanomaterials for new battery concepts
Professor Eric Le Ru School of Chemical and Physical Sciences Victoria University of Wellington Probing the dynamics of the optical absorption of molecules on metallic nanoparticles
Associate Professor Justin Hodgkiss School of Chemical and Physical Sciences Victoria University of Wellington Ultrafast spectroscopy of perovskite PV materials
Professor Paul E. Kruger Department of Chemistry University of Canterbury  Metal-organic frameworks for energy related projects
Professor Keith Gordon Department of Chemistry University of Otago Spectroscopy of energy materials
Dr Nigel Lucas Department of Chemistry University of Otago 

Synthesis of Nanographene Molecular Materials
New nanographene-based molecular materials will be rationally synthesised to better understand structure-property relationships. In particular, the correlation between molecular and bulk structure will be investigated toward stable porous supramolecular organic frameworks for uptake/storage of gases and other guests.


Tomorrow’s Electronic Devices

Dr Natalie Plank School of Chemical & Physical Sciences Victoria University of Wellington Nanomaterial and neuromorphic device platforms for sensing
Professor Simon Brown Department of Physics and Astronomy University of Canterbury

Fundamental properties of nanoscale topological insulators 


Professor Simon Brown Department of Physics and Astronomy University of Canterbury

A computerchip that thinks like a brain

Professor Roger Reeves Department of Physics & Astronomy University of Canterbury The optical response of surface modified metal-oxide semiconductors
Associate Professor Martin Allen Electrical & Computer Engineering University of Canterbury

Fundamental properties and transparent electronic device applications of SnO

Dr Andreas Markwitz National Isotope Centre GNS Science

A new family of diamond-like carbon materials for tomorrow’s electronic devices