Detection of contraband narcotics

Project opportunity

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

The ability to reliably detect contraband narcotics (illicit drugs) at low (trace) concentrations is an increasingly significant challenge faced by national agencies tasked with defence, border security, law enforcement, social welfare, and healthcare. In addition to the well-known narcotics, the proliferation of high potency synthetic opiates and designer drugs means that agencies are looking for alternatives to conventional wet chemical detection kits. A low-cost portable sensor that can reliably detect different classes of illicit drugs at trace concentrations with the potential for stand-off vapour detection is of significant interest. Fluorescence detection of narcotics is in its nascent stages and this project involves the development of fluorescent materials and methods capable of the rapid and reliable detection of illicit drugs.

Scholarship value

As a scholarship recipient, you'll receive: 

  • living stipend of $32,192 per annum tax free (2023 rate), indexed annually
  • tuition fees covered
  • single Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)


Dr Paul Shaw

School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences


Preferred educational background

Your application will be assessed on a competitive basis.

We take into account your

  • previous academic record
  • publication record
  • honours and awards
  • employment history.

The program is multi-faceted program and hence there a range of activities that the PhD student could undertake. A working knowledge of chemical synthesis, physical chemistry of interfaces and film morphology, or spectroscopic studies would be an advantage.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of chemistry and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of organic synthesis, spectroscopy, physical chemistry is highly desirable.

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2023. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date.

If you are an international applicant, you may need to apply much earlier for visa requirements.

How to apply

You apply for this project as part of your PhD program application.

View application process