Deadline: 2016-02-29
Value of Scholarship: £14,057
Level Of Study: PhD

PhD Studentship: 4 Phd Positions in the Chemistry of Advanced Inorganic Functional Materials

Postgraduate research opportunities for ambitious candidates with at least a 2i degree in Chemistry, Physics or Materials Science. Excellent students from a broad range of backgrounds with a strong interest in new materials are encouraged to apply.

These projects in the research group of Professor Matt Rosseinsky FRS all involve the synthesis and detailed characterisation of new inorganic and hybrid materials: there is the opportunity to combine this with computational work (e.g., Science 2013, 340, 847), and all projects involve working closely with the computational sub-team in the research group. You will work in the new £68M Materials Innovation Factory in state-of-the-art laboratory facilities ( We make extensive use of central X-ray and neutron scattering facilities and have many international and national collaborations covering multiple disciplines with both academic and industrial teams. The available projects include:

Porous materials for catalysis:

The synthesis of new open-framework materials designed to mimic biological catalysts, combining synthesis and structural characterisation of new materials with sorption, selectivity and catalysis measurements. There is the opportunity to apply high-throughput robotic synthesis methods and to develop new chemistries that lead to open framework materials, as well as to investigate their potential for a range of applications.

Multiple anion materials for solar energy and waste heat capture applications:

Despite the importance of single anion solids such as oxides in science and technology (e.g., there are over 1000 multilayer capacitors based on the ferroelectric oxide BaTiO3 in a car), there is much less work reported on materials where two or more different anions form the structure. The objective of this project is to develop design rules that will allow the controllable synthesis of multiple anion materials. The initial focus on oxygen, sulfur and phosphorus will give the targeted materials properties relevant to photovoltaic solar energy conversion and thermoelectric conversion of waste heat to electricity, and we will evaluate the new materials for both these exciting applications. The project has the potential to generate new classes of materials whose properties may well be important in areas well beyond these two highlighted ones (for example, in superconductivity), and we will use our extensive measurement facilities to investigate this.

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Cathodes for alkali ion batteries:

Lithium ion batteries are playing a key role in the development of electric vehicles, and higher voltage cathodes would increase their range. We target new high voltage cathodes based on iron, and the development of cathodes for sodium and magnesium ion batteries that would be based on more earth-abundant metals and might be cheaper, or superior in demanding application environments. The development of design rules and the evaluation of the materials by applications testing link these two themes in the project, which will give training in both materials discovery, characterisation and battery evaluation.

New directions for sustainable functional oxides:

New materials are needed to reduce the energy requirements of computing, and this becomes more urgent by each day as server farms proliferate and the Internet of Things emerges. We will find new materials that enable different, lower energy computing approaches by combining electrical polarisation and permanent magnetisation in a single phase at room temperature. This is extremely challenging because these two types of long-range order have competing electronic structure and chemical composition requirements. We will use approaches recently demonstrated by the group (Science 2015, 347, 420; Nature 2015, 525, 363) to achieve this in new materials where the coupling between electrical and magnetic order is maximised.

These design approaches also offer routes to lead-free piezoelectric materials with high operating temperatures that are of importance in sensor and actuator applications for example in the automotive and oil exploration sectors. We will explore both aspects of the underlying chemistry and materials design in the project.

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This project can be tuned to offer extensive training in structure determination by diffraction and scattering, and in physical property measurement in addition to materials synthesis and discovery, depending on the aptitude, background and interests of the candidate.

EPSRC eligibility

Applications from candidates meeting the eligibility requirements of the EPSRC are welcome  please refer to the EPSRC website

The award will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years. The maintenance grant will be £14,057 for 2015/16.

The funding for one of these positions (flexibly allocated i.e. not specified by project at this stage) is a University of Liverpool GTA.

GTA eligibility

The award is primarily available to students resident in the UK/EU and will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant of £14,057 for 3.5 years. The studentship includes a commitment to work up to 144 hours per academic year to help with teaching-related activities in modules currently taught in the Department of Chemistry, as assigned by the Head of Department or his representative.

Non-EU nationals are not eligible for these positions and applications from non-EU candidates will not be considered.Â

The successful candidate should have, or expect to have, at least a 2:1 degree or equivalent in Chemistry. Please apply by completing the online postgraduate research application form at  Applications should be made as soon as possible and no later than 29 February 2016.  Informal enquiries should be addressed to
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