The design, synthesis and study of molecular materials for electronics and thermoelectrics

Molecular wires, transistors and Moore


It is hard to imagine any aspect of human endeavor that has not benefited from the introduction of the integrated circuit over 60 years ago and seemingly relentless evolution of ever-smaller components and more highly integrated circuits and powerful devices over that time. However, at present rates of progress, it is inevitable that the physical limits of “top down” scaling based on photolithography and feature sizes in the solid state will be reached within a decade or so.

In response to this foreseeable limit, new strategies for electronic component design and computing technologies have been sought, and significant attention has been turned to Molecular Electronics, in which carefully designed molecules serve as ‘ultimately scaled’ electronic components, able to perform the roles of conventional wires, switches, rectifiers and transistors.

More recently, the field of molecular electronics has evolved beyond this ‘more Moore’ paradigm, with the identificatio of new, uniquely molecular phenomena within solid-state platforms such as quantum interference (QI) effects. The control of QI through molecular design opens exciting opportunities to design molecular materials with useful properties, such as high Seebeck coefficients and pave the way to novel thermoelectric systems to convert waste heat into electrical energy.


Project goals:

  • Design, synthesize and study molecular compounds to improve understanding of through-molecule conductance
  • Exploit redox and magnetic properties of metal complexes to develop molecular switches, transistors and spin-valves
  • Create molecular systems with high Seebeck coefficients and power factors to develop efficient thermoelectric materials

Successful candidates will undertake one or more of the following activities as part of a dynamic, international research consortium:

  • Design and synthesis of molecular organic, organometallic and inorganic compounds
  • Studies of redox-switching of molecular compounds using a range of electrochemical and spectroelectrochemical methods
  • Measure the electrical characteristics of single molecules
  • Contribute to collaborative studies undertaken in partnership with colleagues around the world to develop single-molecule and thin-film molecular electronic devices

Suggested readings


Research team leader: Professor Paul J. Low

I am a synthetic chemist, with interests in conjugated compounds and complexes, electrochemistry, charge transfer processes, and determination of the electronic structure of molecular materials. Research in my group ranges from synthetic organometallic chemistry and reactions of complexes with ‘carbon-rich’ ligands, to properties of mixed-valence complexes and the design of compounds for use in the broad field of molecular electronics.


Funding and Collaborations


  • 2019 - 2022 ARC Discovery (DP190100074) Molecular transistors: From rings and strings to other things ($420,000)
  • 2019 - 2022 ARC Discovery (DP190100073) A radical approach to the design of components for molecular electronics ($438,000)

External Collaborators:

    • Professor Richard Nichols
    • Professor Simon Higgins
    • Dr Andrea Vezzoli
    • Professor Colin Lambert
    • Professor Pilar Cea
    • Professor Nicolas Agraït
    • Professor Wenjing Hong
    • Professor Martin Kaupp
    • Professor Jean-Francois Halet
    • Professor Claude Lapinte



How to Apply 

Check criteria
  • To be accepted into the Doctor of Philosophy, an applicant must demonstrate they have sufficient background experience in independent supervised research to successfully complete, and provide evidence of English language proficiency
  • Requirements specific to this project - Successful candidates will have a good background in one or more areas of synthetic chemistry, electrochemistry, surface science and / or scanning probe microscopy
Submit enquiry to research team leader 
  • Contact the research team leader by submitting an Expression of Interest form via the button below
  • After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, contact to proceed with your application


Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

Indigenous students
Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.
Forrest Foundation scholarships
All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.