Molecular Lego: building new materials piece-by-piece on surfaces

Study level


Master of Philosophy

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Associate Professor Jennifer MacLeod
Head of School
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Single-atom thick materials represent the ultimate spatial limit for thin films.  At single-atom thickness, new physical properties can emerge along with new opportunities for reducing the size and operating power of devices made from these ultrathin materials.

One of the main challenges in contemporary materials science lies in synthesising and characterising new single-atom thick materials.

Research activities

In this project, we will explore the possibility for designing and creating novel single-atom thick materials using on-surface synthesis, an approach based on growing new materials on a clean, well-defined surface.

Using molecular building blocks, this approach can allow us to fabricate both molecular polymeric materials and metal-organic hybrids. We will focus on the design and realization of materials that are tailored for specific applications.

Experimental work will be carried out in an ultra-high vacuum, using photoelectron spectroscopy and atomic-resolution scanning probe microscopy to study the chemical and physical structure of the materials.

These experimental results will be supported with density functional theory calculations of structural and electronic properties.


This work will contribute to our fundamental understanding of molecule-by-molecule approaches to building new materials with the aim of developing robust methods for fabricating functional ultrathin films


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.