Graduate Studies in Chemistry

 

Currently advertised vacancies

DPhil opportunity with Professor Dermot O’Hare

Development of new applications of layered double hydroxide

Applications are invited for a DPhil position in Inorganic Chemistry, available from October 2019 to work with Professor Dermot O’Hare in the Chemistry Research Laboratory, University of Oxford, UK. The subject of the thesis will be “Development of new applications of layered double hydroxide”. This studentship is funded by SCG Chemicals Co., Ltd (Thailand).

Layered double hydroxides (LDHs), also known as hydrotalcites, exhibit rich solid state chemistry since both the composition of the metal layers and the intercalated anions can be varied. They have captured much attention in recent years due to their impact across a range of applications such as catalysis, optics, medical science and in inorganic-organic nanocomposites. Recently, we have reported the synthesis of a new family of dispersible, hydrophobic LDHs exhibiting very high surface areas and pore volume, nearly two orders of magnitude higher than conventional LDHs.

This studentship will involve synthesis, characterisation and testing of new layered double hydroxides for a range of applications.

The candidate is expected to have a strong interest in chemical synthesis, solid-state chemistry and characterisation, and keen to work in collaboration with industry. Experience in catalysis would be an advantage. The candidate should also have a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications) in chemistry or a related science discipline.

This studentship will cover course fees at Home/EU rate plus provide a stipend of no less than the standard UK Research Council rate, currently set at £14,777 per year for three and a half years.

Application deadline: 12.00noon UK time on Friday, 25th January 2018

Candidates should submit a formal application for DPhil in Inorganic Chemistry via Oxford online application system:

http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/applying-to-oxford , quoting DMOH/SCG/LDH/2019

Queries relating to the application and admission process should be directed to: graduate.admissions@chem.ox.ac.uk ; tel.: +44 (0) 1865 272569.

For informal enquiries please contact Dr. Jean-Charles Buffet, Deputy Director SCG-Oxford Centre of Excellence in Chemistry: jean-charles.buffet@chem.ox.ac.uk

For a summary of the group’s current research interests please see: http://ohare.chem.ox.ac.uk/

The Department of Chemistry is the holder of Athena SWAN Silver Award.


DPhil opportunity with Professor Dermot O’Hare

Synthesis of supported permethylindenyl zirconocene catalysts for polymerisation

Applications are invited for a DPhil position in Inorganic Chemistry, available from October 2019 to work with Professor Dermot O’Hare in the Chemistry Research Laboratory, University of Oxford, UK. The subject of the thesis will be “Synthesis of supported permethylindenyl zirconocene catalysts for polymerisation”. This studentship is funded by SCG Chemicals Co., Ltd (Thailand).

Innovation in both the synthesis and the properties of new innovative polymers is still at the forefront in both industry and academia. Using supported metallocene catalysts is an important and growing component in industrial production.

This studentship will involve synthesis, characterisation of new permethylindenyl organometallic complexes followed by formation of solid catalysts and their use in various polymer synthesis. The project will involve the synthesis of oxygen and moisture sensitive organometallic compounds and the study of their properties and function as effective solid catalysts.

The candidate is expected to have a strong interest in chemical synthesis, structural characterisation, to be skilled in oxygen- and moisture- sensitive organometallic compound synthesis and keen to work in collaboration with industry. Experience in solid state chemistry would be an advantage. The candidate should also have a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications) in chemistry or a related science discipline.

This studentship will cover course fees at Home/EU rate plus provide a stipend of no less than the standard UK Research Council rate, currently set at £14,777 per year for three and a half years.

Application deadline: 12.00noon UK time on Friday, 25th January 2018

Candidates should submit a formal application for DPhil in Inorganic Chemistry via Oxford online application system:

http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/applying-to-oxford , quoting DMOH/SCG/ISTAR/2019

Queries relating to the application and admission process should be directed to: graduate.admissions@chem.ox.ac.uk ; tel.: +44 (0) 1865 272569.

For informal enquiries please contact Dr. Jean-Charles Buffet, Deputy Director SCG-Oxford Centre of Excellence in Chemistry: jean-charles.buffet@chem.ox.ac.uk

For a summary of the group’s current research interests please see: http://ohare.chem.ox.ac.uk/

The Department of Chemistry is the holder of Athena SWAN Silver Award.


DPhil positions (up to 2) in the Goodwin Group on Correlated Disorder in Metal–Organic Frameworks  and/or Lattice Dynamics of Structural Spin-Ices

Start date: 1st October 2019

Supervisors: Professor Andrew Goodwin

Up to two fully funded 3.5-year DPhils position are available in the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory, under the supervision of Prof Andrew Goodwin. The Goodwin Group is a materials chemistry group with a common interest in understanding atomic-scale structure, and in particular how the geometric arrangement of atoms within a material can bring about unusual and interesting properties. The group works hard to maintain a relaxed and supportive environment, preferring an emphasis on creative thinking instead of hours at the bench. A collection of dynamic and creative individuals, the group works best when it has a good gender balance, and is 100% LGBTQ+ friendly.

 These DPhil projects forms part of the recently-funded €3.5M European Research Council Advanced Grant “COMPLEXORDER” (https://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/216205_en.html), which is an ambitious project focussed on the exploitation of unconventional order in a variety of functional materials.

Project 1 will be concerned with the synthesis, characterisation, and application of metal–organic frameworks containing highly-correlated forms of structural disorder. The work will be largely experimental in nature: predominantly involving a combination of chemical synthesis and advanced structural characterisation—including cutting-edge single-crystal diffuse scattering measurements. Even experimentalists in our group learn coding and apply statistical mechanical methods to the analysis of experimental data, and so the project also will involve some computational element (in which the student would of course be trained). Representative previous studies in the group would include:

https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms5176

http://www.nature.com/articles/nchem.2462

Project 2 will be concerned with the vibrational behaviour of chemically-simple solids with ice-like disorder. The work will involve a mixture of experiment and computation and as such will provide an excellently broad training for students interested in both theory and practice. Experimentally, the project will involve chemical synthesis, crystallographic measurements, and inelastic neutron scattering. And, computationally, the project will involve lattice dynamical calculations, Monte Carlo calculations, and Molecular Dynamics simulations. These various techniques will be employed in close contact with our established network of collaborators. Representative previous studies in the group would include:

https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms10445

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/350/6257/179

For both projects, candidates are expected to have a strong interest in structural chemistry. Experience in the application of crystallographic methods, perhaps even at central facilities, would be considered an advantage. The candidates should also have a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications) in chemistry or a related science discipline.

This studentship(s) will cover course fees at Home/EU rate plus provide a stipend of no less than the standard UK Research Council rate, currently set at £14,777 per year for up to three and a half years.

You will be required to submit a formal application for DPhil in Inorganic Chemistry

Application deadline: 12.00noon UK time on Friday, 30th November 2018

Please quote: ALG/ERC/2019 in your application form.

Shortlisted applicants may be required to make themselves available for an interview on either Thursday 6th December of Friday 7th December.

For further information about the projects, please email andrew.goodwin@chem.ox.ac.uk .

Queries relating to the application and admission process should be directed to: graduate.admissions@chem.ox.ac.uk

The Department of Chemistry is the holder of Athena SWAN Silver Award.


Three projects on the materials chemistry and electrochemistry of batteries: lithium-air, all solid state lithium and sodium-ion batteries
Prof Peter G Bruce (Wolfson Chair in Materials, Departments of Materials and Chemistry)

1. The materials chemistry and electrochemistry of the lithium-air battery

Energy storage represents one of the major scientific challenges of our time. Pioneering work in Oxford in the 1980s led to the introduction of the lithium-ion battery and the subsequent portable electronics revolution (iPad, mobile phone).

Theoretically the Li-air battery can store more energy than any other device, as such it could revolutionise energy storage. The challenge is to understand the electrochemistry and materials chemistry of the Li-air battery and by advancing the science unlock the door to a practical device. The Li-air battery consists of a lithium metal negative electrode and a porous positive electrode, separated by an organic electrolyte. On discharge, at the positive electrode, O2 is reduced to O22- forming solid Li2O2, which is oxidised on subsequent charging. It is the organic analogue of the oxygen reduction/oxygen evolution reaction in aqueous electrochemistry. The project will involve understanding the electrochemistry of O2 reduction in Li+ containing organic electrolytes to form Li2O2 and its reversal on charging. The use for redox mediators to facilitate the O2 reduction and evolution. The exploration of new electrolyte solutions and their influence of the reversibility of the reaction. The project will use a range of electrochemical, spectroscopic (Raman, FTIR, XPS, in situ mass spec.) and microscopic (AFM, TEM) methods to determine the mechanism of O2 reduction (presence and nature of intermediates e.g. superoxide) and its kinetics. Our aim is not to build devices but to understand the underlying science. We seek highly qualified, ambitious, imaginative, hard-working and self-motivated candidates. Further details may be obtained by contacting simultaneously Dr Erez Cohen at erez.cohen@materials.ox.ac.uk and Zsofia Lazar at zsofia.lazar@materials.ox.ac.uk.

2. Challenges facing all-solid-state batteries

There is increasing worldwide motivation to research and develop all-solid-state batteries in order to achieve better safety, higher energy density, as well as wider operating temperature energy storages, as compared to conventional Li-ion batteries using liquid electrolytes. All solid state batteries consist of a solid electrolyte as the main component, an intercalation cathode, e.g. LiCoO2, and an anode with the ultimate goal of implementing a lithium metal anode. The project will involve advancing the fundamental understanding from material to cell level. Synthesis of new Li+ conducting solid electrolytes and characterisation of their structural, electrochemical, electrical, and mechanical properties will be required. The work will include investigation of phenomena at solid electrode/solid electrolyte interfaces, something that is central to progressing solid state batteries but is not well understood, e.g. charge transfer, parasitic reactions, occurring at the interfaces of the electrolytes with both cathodes and anodes. Further parameters affecting the cycleability of the all-solid-state batteries will need to be identified. A range of characterisation techniques will be used, including X-ray and neutron diffraction, electron microscopy, NMR, Raman and IR spectroscopy, X-ray tomography, as well as several electrochemical techniques such as EIS and cycling. We seek highly qualified, ambitious, imaginative, hard-working and self-motivated candidates. Further details may be obtained by contacting simultaneously Dr Erez Cohen at  erez.cohen@materials.ox.ac.uk and Zsofia Lazar at zsofia.lazar@materials.ox.ac.uk.

3. The materials chemistry and electrochemistry of lithium and sodium-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionised portable electronics and are now used in electric vehicles. However new generations are required for future applications in transport and storing electricity from renewable sources (wind, wave, solar). Such advances are vital to mitigating climate change. Sodium is more abundant than lithium and so attractive especially for applications on the electricity grid. Lithium and sodium ion batteries both consist of intercalation compounds as the negative and positive electrodes. The charge and discharge involves shuttling Li+ or Na+ ions between the two intercalation hosts (electrodes) across the electrolyte. In the case of Li-ion batteries currently the most common technology is still graphite (anode) and LiCoO2 (cathode). However, the development of increased energy storage in Li ion systems drives research to discover new materials. In the case of Na-ion batteries whilst the principles are analogous to that of the Li-ion battery, as yet there are no preferred candidates as electrodes, which provides excellent motivation for further work.

The project will involve synthesising and characterising a number of Na/Li containing transition metal oxides. This will utilise synthesis methods such as sol-gel, hydrothermal and solid state, characterisation will involve X-ray and Neutron diffraction, solid state NMR, XPS, FTIR, TEM and SEM. Additionally it is important to understand the processes at the interfaces between the intercalation oxides and the organic electrolyte. For such the interfacial studies FTIR, Raman, in situ mass spec and XPS will be the main techniques. We seek highly qualified, ambitious, imaginative, hard-working and self-motivated candidates. Further details may be obtained by contacting simultaneously Dr Erez Cohen at erez.cohen@materials.ox.ac.uk and Zsofia Lazar at zsofia.lazar@materials.ox.ac.uk.

Also see homepages: Peter Bruce

Atomic-scale characterisation of Li battery materials
Prof P D Nellist, Prof P G Bruce

Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is now capable of imaging individual atoms in materials, and electron spectroscopy data can provide atomic-scale information about the elements present and the nature of the bonding. Oxford Materials is one of the leading departments in high-precision quantitative measurements of materials using these methods. These methods have great potential for measuring structure and local chemistry to explain the performance of Li battery materials and to guide their development. The big challenge, however, is that the materials used are very sensitive to damage due to the illuminating electron beam. The aim of this project is to make use of methods recently developed in Oxford to maximise the amount of information gained from the microscope for the minimum electron irradiation. In particular, the recently developed method of electron ptychography (somewhat related to holography) can provide very sensitive measurements of Li and O atoms with three-dimensional information available. This will allow, for example, the positions of Li and O atoms in an electrode to be determined at various stages of the charge and discharge cycle of a battery. The project is suitable for someone interested in applying state-of-the-art atomic resolution electron microscopy to an important and rapidly developing class of materials.

Also see homepages: Peter Bruce Peter Nellist

Understanding battery chemistry with in-situ electron microscopy
Dr Alex W Robertson and Prof Peter G Bruce

Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionised the way we think of energy storage, allowing for powerful devices that fit the palm of our hands, and massive battery arrays to supplement intermittent renewables. However there are fundamental limitations; the recent high profile fires that occurred in the Samsung Galaxy Note phones, and the 2013 grounding of the Boeing Dreamliner fleet, both illustrate this. The materials failures that occurred in these batteries risk becoming increasingly prevalent as we push Li-ion batteries to their maximum potential. New battery systems will be needed, such as Na-ion or Li-air, and a more fundamental understanding of the materials degradation mechanisms will be required to prevent failure.

Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) permits the characterisation of a material’s structure down to the atomic level, along with its chemical constitution by spectroscopy. TEM has been around for many years, but recent advances have seen the profile of this venerable technique rise dramatically, with a 2017 Nobel Prize awarded for its application to biological systems. Using TEM to aid the understanding of battery chemistry has been historically difficult, as most battery chemistry occurs in solution. However, recent developments now allow for liquid phases to be studied within the TEM, permitting an unprecedented insight into the processes that occur in a battery during operation. The student, working with the world-leading battery and electron microscopy communities within the Materials Department, will harness TEM to understand the fundamental chemical and materials processes that occur in batteries.

Any questions concerning the project can be addressed to Dr Alex Robertson (alex.robertson@materials.ox.ac.uk). General enquiries on how to apply can be made by e mail to graduate.studies@materials.ox.ac.uk. You must complete the standard Oxford University Application for Graduate Studies. Further information and an electronic copy of the application form can be found at http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/postgraduate_courses/apply/index.html.

http://postgraduate.chem.ox.ac.uk/vacancies.aspx