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Avaliable PhD studentship for UK/EU applicants

There is a funded PhD student position for a UK/EU applicant. International students may apply but must meet the difference in cost. There 4 possibilities I am particularly interested – these use automation of mundane laboratory experimentation to open new ways to catalytic reactions understand and develop novel more efficient catalysts.

Please email me for enquiries and applications.

Eligibility: Candidates must have a 1st or 2.1 honours degree. You should have a strong record in chemistry or chemical engineering.

Funding: A single project could be funded by the School of Engineering only for a UK/ EU applicant.

How to Apply: Email a full CV, academic transcripts, and cover letter, explaining your interest in pursuing a PhD in this area to: with ‘PhD Application’ in the subject line.

Start date: October 2020, early start is possible.

Topic 1. Digitizing catalysis

The project aims to develop novel methods to synthesise and test heterogeneous catalysts without human intervention.

This multidisciplinary project focuses on heterogeneous catalysis and the possibility to automate the discovery process; to develop and implement algorithms for selecting a catalyst recipe from an infinite number of possibilities; to rely on data, but use the accumulated knowledge and experience in the catalyst design.

Topic 2. Liquid-phase adsorption studies of the catalysis foundations

Catalysis underpins most of the chemical industry and creates shortcuts in the reaction pathways by forming energetically-favourable reaction intermediates. The initial step of any process - adsorption, however, is scarcely studied in liquid-phase because of its difficulty. Yet, the most valuable compounds are obtained in the liquid phase and the results of gas-phase studies cannot be generally applied. At Warwick, we developed a novel automated routine to study liquid-phase adsorption phenomena that often determine and describe the selectivity of a reaction.

The project aims to study the effect of adsorption onto the catalyst activity and selectivity in several model reactions such as semi-hydrogenation over platinum-group catalysts.

This multidisciplinary project focuses on heterogeneous catalysis and understanding of the reaction mechanisms. You will collaborate with computational chemistry groups at the University of Lincoln, University College London, and Catalysis Hub as well as industrial end-users to gain valuable mechanistic insights relevant to the industry. It is an opportunity, if desired, to acquire industrial experience and establish strong links with industrial leaders.

Topic 3. Decoupling adsorption and reaction kinetics

We found that a reactant mixture may react faster than the individual compounds. This rather contradicts a common sense and Langmuir-Hinshelwood model of reaction. Importantly, it opens a way to decouple the adsorption and reaction phenomena over the catalyst surface by using separate catalyst additives. In conventional catalysis, the catalyst and reactant must match well in terms of adsorption energy. Too strong adsorption hinders the reaction by over-occupying the surface; too weak adsorption leaves the catalyst surface empty – in both cases, the reaction rates are slow. In the project, you will study and demonstrate a novel concept of decoupling adsorption and reaction using adsorption modifiers.

Topic 4. Electrodeless organic electrochemistry

The area of electrochemistry and electrification of chemistry is growing. Electricity could provide electrons in the most straightforward way instead of using bulky, toxic and expensive reagents. However, the main obstacle is the requirement of an electric conductor. Most of the organic media and solvents are non-ionic and are non-conductive. As a result, the applicability of electrochemistry is extremely limited. In the project, you will study the application of plasma to non-conductive organic media aiming to open a way for more efficient chemistry and more sustainable processes.