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DTA - Polar Oxide Surfaces in the Real-World: Exploring Stability and Reactivity


   Department of Materials

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  Dr R Lindsay, Dr Andrew Thomas  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Driven by the pertinence of inorganic oxide surfaces across a diverse range of fields, such as solar energy and corrosion control, fundamental investigation of model (e.g. single crystal) metal oxides has emerged as a key activity. Consequently, significant nanoscale understanding of the physics and chemistry of such surfaces has been achieved, including drivers of atomic scale structure and defect reactivity. To date, however, such studies have typically been performed in esoteric ultra-high vacuum (UHV) environments, leading to criticism of their broader real-world merit. While the validity of this argument can be debated, the richness of the body of UHV work on model oxide surfaces suggests that the use of technologically relevant environments will provide original and unexpected insights, potentially transforming our understanding of their macroscopic properties in real-world scenarios. On this basis, the aim of this proposal is to explore this new horizon, focusing on the polar Fe3O4(100) surface, which continues to fascinate and exasperate; polar surfaces should be forbidden due to uncompensated electric charge, but nevertheless are routinely observed.

The primary goal of this project will be to explore the surface structure and chemistry of real-world prepared single crystal Fe3O4(100), including interfaces formed in liquids. In addition, you will take the opportunity to explore the feasibility of forming MxFe3-xO4 terminated Fe3O4(100), where some of Fe cations are replaced by other transition metals (M). There is an expectation that this latter effort will reveal novel structures and chemistries, which will be worthy of future pursuit, e.g., single atom catalysts. 

This project will not only transform our understanding of the enigmatic polar Fe3O4(100) surface, but also provide a potential ‘crossing the rubicon’ moment in terms of agenda setting for future oxide surface studies, i.e., moving away from working in UHV.

Academic background of candidates

Applicants should have or expect to achieve at least a 2.1 honours degree in Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science, or related subject.

At the University of Manchester, we pride ourselves on our commitment to fairness, inclusion and respect in everything we do. We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds and identities and encourage you to bring your whole self to work and study. We will ensure that your application is given full consideration without regard to your race, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, age, marital or pregnancy status, or socioeconomic background. All PhD places will be awarded on the basis of merit.

To apply please follow the link below:

https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/admissions/how-to-apply/


Funding Notes

This is a 3.5 year EPSRC DTA studentship. Funding will cover UK tuition fee and stipend only. The University of Manchester aims to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK. We are able to offer a limited number of scholarships that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme. This studentship is also available for self-funded students. Please contact Dr. R Lindsay to discuss.
Start date: September 2022
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