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Development of Graphene Silicon-Lithium Ion Battery Anodes (RENU21/EE/MCE/ELMARAKBI)

Faculty of Engineering and Environment

Newcastle United Kingdom Energy Technologies Mechanical Engineering Nanotechnology Other Other Physical Chemistry

About the Project

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Renewable Energy Northeast Universities (ReNU)is a collaborative doctoral training programme run by the Universities of Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham. In addition to undertaking an individual scientific research project at one of the three partner Universities, doctoral candidates will engage with added value training opportunities, for example in business, innovation and internationalisation through a 4-year training programme that has been designed to maximise the benefits of a cohort approach to doctoral training. The start date is 1st October 2021.

The majority of commercial silicon anode products use a relatively low amount of silicon, in order to reduce the impact of the large volume expansion associated with its use. At higher silicon levels, volume expansion remains a problem, causing a drop off in battery performance and life. In order to take advantage of silicon’s high storage capacity for lithium, there is a requirement to improve stability, which may be done using new materials and/or through new production techniques.

As part of a collaboration with an international industrial partner (Applied Graphene Materials UK Ltd), the aim of this PhD project is to develop graphene-stabilized lithium-silicon battery systems for renewable energy technologies. It is anticipated that graphene stabilisation will be achieved via coating of silicon particles, where several approaches will be considered, including emulsion polymerisation and chemical vapour deposition techniques.

This project aims at improving the efficiency/stability of batteries using a cost-effective manufacturing approach to fabricate novel graphene/silicon composite anode materials with high-efficiency nanostructured heterogeneous design.

The successful candidate will be working with lithium ion batteries, ideally including experience of cell preparation, electrochemical characterization, microstructural analysis, surface science and cell degradation mechanisms. The candidate will be also be expected to work in a highly multidisciplinary collaborative team and has effective written and verbal communication skills. Frequent update reports to the industry partners will be required.

Applicants for this position should also have a solid footing in and passion for carbon-based nanomaterials such as graphene and carbon nanotubes, and an excellent knowledge of their applications within energy storage devices. Experience of preparing, developing and characterising dispersions of such materials would be highly desirable for this role.

Currently, a relatively large amount of intellectual property exists within the relatively narrow field of lithium-silicon batteries, and so a good knowledge of relevant IP within this field would also be beneficial.

This project is supervised by Prof. Ahmed Elmarakbi. For informal queries, please contact

The application closing date is 7 February 2021 and we will aim to have the interviews take place in early March. Please note that interviews, should they be arranged, will be online rather than in person due to COVID-19.

Eligibility and How to Apply

Please note eligibility requirement:

• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.

• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note that applications must include all of the following to be considered:

  1. A research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), and include the advert reference (e.g. ReNU21/…).
  2. You must upload with your application at least 2 reference letters

Deadline for applications: 7 February 2021

Start Date: 1 October 2021

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

* please note: to be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:

• Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or

• have settled status, or

• have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or

• have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as an International student.

Funding Notes

Home and International students (inc. EU) are welcome to apply. The studentship is available to Home and International (including EU) students, and includes a full stipend at UKRI rates (for 2020/21, this was £15,285 pa) and full tuition fees. Also significant additional funding to cover research costs and local, national and international travel (conferences and exchanges). 

We have a limited number of International awards available.   Note that up to 6 offers of a PhD place will be made for the ReNU CDT projects advertised by Northumbria University.

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