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Developing A Solvothermal Reaction Cell for in situ Neutron Scattering of Crystallisation

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, April 18, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

The aim of this project is to develop neutron diffraction methods for understanding the crystallisation of functional inorganic solids, such as catalysts and materials with electronic properties. This will enable more efficient materials synthesis to be developed in the future. The project is a collaboration with ISIS, the UK’s neutron spallation source (, and will involve the design, construction and use of a new reaction cell for in situ studies. The materials produced will be analysed in Warwick’s Materials and Analytical Science Building using a variety of techniques, including diffraction, spectroscopy and electron microscopy. The project is part-funded by an ISIS facility development award and the student will be expected to up to one year in total working at the facility during data collection and data analysis. This will make use of recent significant improvements in neutron instrumentation to allow more rapid data acquisition than previously possible so that evolution of atomic scale structure can be observed in real time. This will allow the formation mechanisms of solid-state materials to be better understood, which is a vital part of the push towards rational design of functional materials. In the project, we have selected three interesting families of materials to prove the cell, but its application is not limited to these: it could be used to study materials with applications in important contemporary areas ranging from energy storage and transport (e.g. battery materials and solid-electrolytes), the environment, (e.g. gas capture and depollution catalysts), and emerging technologies (e.g. materials with unusual electronic and magnetic properties). The cell will be versatile enough to be used on multiple ISIS neutron scattering beamlines to measure, for example, total scattering, inelastic scattering and, potentially, neutron imaging. The eventual plan is to produce a working in situ reactor that can be made available to the wider ISIS User Community for other research groups to make use of in the study of materials formation.

Supervisors: Professor Richard Walton, Department of Chemistry, University of Warwick & Dr Helen Playford, STFC ISIS Facility, Harwell Campus
Funding availability: The stipend will be at standard RCUK rates: approx. £15,000 tax-free per year and the position is funded for four years from 23/9/2019.

Funding Notes

Applicants should have an honours degree (at least II.1 or equivalent) in chemistry, or other relevant discipline, and should be a UK citizen or have been a resident in the UK for three or more years.


How to apply: Please direct informal enquiries and requests for further information to Professor Richard Walton: [email protected]

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