Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes
Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes

Development of Plasma Polymer Coatings for Extending the Life of Battery Electrodes

Department of Chemistry

Lancaster United Kingdom Analytical Chemistry Inorganic Chemistry Synthetic Chemistry

About the Project

A fully-funded PhD studentship in the area of battery materials science is available under the joint supervision of Dr John Griffin and Nuria Tapia-Ruiz in the Department of Chemistry, Lancaster University. The PhD is funded by the Faraday Institution within the FutureCat project for development of lithium-ion battery materials.

One of the primary causes of battery degradation is unwanted side reactions at the electrode-electrolyte interface. This problem affects all battery electrode materials, but in particular affect new high-voltage materials that are currently being developed. The ability to control and stabilise the cathode-electrolyte interface (CEI) layer could reduce these problems and extend battery lives for existing and new materials.

The aim of this PhD project is to develop plasma polymer (PP) coatings as an artificial CEI that can be used to protect battery electrode surfaces. Plasma polymerisation is a well-established approach for growing thin (1-100 nanometre), highly cross-linked polymer films on surfaces. The cross-linked structure means PP coatings are highly insoluble and therefore resistant to dissolution or degradation in the electrolyte, while remaining thin enough to allow ion transport.

The project will initially focus on development of a prototype PP coating for the model battery material LiNi0.5Mn1.5O4. Coatings will be applied using dedicated plasma reactors in the Lancaster Chemistry Department. Electrode longevity will be evaluated using electrochemical testing and advanced structural characterisation including solid-state NMR. The PhD student will be co-supervised by Drs John Griffin and Nuria Tapia-Ruiz, with close interaction with the group of Prof. Rob Short (Director of Lancaster Materials Science Institute). As a Faraday Institution-funded PhD student, the PhD student will also have access to additional structured training and support through the FutureCat project and the wider Faraday Institution.

Applicants will hold, or expect to receive, a 1st class or 2:1 Masters-level or BSc degree (or equivalent) in chemistry. The successful candidate will demonstrate a strong interest in chemistry and/or materials science, enthusiasm to work in a multidisciplinary research group and willingness to learn. For further information please contact Dr John Griffin, or Dr Nuria Tapia Ruiz within the Department of Chemistry, Lancaster University.

The Department of Chemistry at Lancaster University provides a research environment that strongly supports the individual needs of each student, and promotes a healthy work-life balance. We are committed to the Athena Swan Charter, which recognises and celebrates good employment practice undertaken to address gender equality in higher education and research. Our commitment to these principles is reflected in our recent receipt of an Athena Swan Bronze Award. The Department of Chemistry also operates a structured training programme in transferrable skills and an informal PhD peer-peer mentor scheme which is available to all students.

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