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Dynamic Nuclear Polarisation-enhanced NMR Spectroscopy for Advanced Materials Understanding


   Department of Chemistry

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  Prof Frédéric Blanc  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This opportunity will remain open until the position has been filled and so early applications are encouraged.

Magic Angle Spinning (MAS) NMR spectroscopy is the most versatile and widely-used technique in the chemical, physical and material sciences for the characterisation of the atomic scale structure of solid molecules and materials, and their dynamics. However, MAS NMR suffers from a relatively low receptivity, often requiring prohibitively long experimental times, especially for targeted systems in very low concentrations or the detection of inherently insensitive nuclear spins. An exciting approach to tackling these issues consist of transferring the high polarisation of the electron spins to the low polarisation of the nuclear spins followed by their detection. This process is called Dynamic Nuclear Polarisation (DNP) and potentially affords signal enhancement of multiple orders of magnitude, opening tremendous opportunities for advanced materials characterisation.

This PhD studentship aims at developing DNP MAS NMR spectroscopy by exploring new experimental methodologies using a wide range of easily accessible polarising agents and identifying experimental conditions for local site directed electron spin labelling. This includes experimental DNP MAS NMR measurements and understanding electron – nucleus spin dynamics. The project will deliver new research frontiers and game changing capabilities in structure determination of molecules and materials.

This PhD studentship will allow a highly motivated candidate to participate in the development of the stimulating area of DNP MAS NMR spectroscopy and will have a unique research profile across NMR spectroscopy and materials. The project is based in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Liverpool, which is an international centre of excellence for the chemistry of advanced materials and the successful applicant will join a collaborative, international and multidisciplinary research team that will provide complete student training, skills and development, ensuring strong employability. The student will have ample opportunities to perform experiments at state-of-the-art NMR facilities (locally, at the Nottingham DNP MAS NMR Facility and at the location of the national partners and beyond) and will be able to expand their research vision and interest by attending (inter)national conferences.

The successful candidate should have, or expect to have, at least a 2:1 degree or equivalent in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science or closely related subject. The candidate should be highly motivated, curious, have competent English communication skills, computer skills and be able to work both as part of a team and independently. Project experience in NMR or EPR or numerical simulations would be an advantage, but is not a prerequisite.

For any enquireis please contact: Prof. Frédéric Blanc on: [Email Address Removed]

Applications must include a cover letter including the applicant motivation in this PhD studentship and teaching interests, a full CV, and the contact details of two academic referees and should be sent by email to Prof. Frédéric Blanc ([Email Address Removed]) indicating “DNP MAS NMR PhD studentship 2022” in the subject line.

The funding for this position is from a DTP EPSRC PhD studentship and will start on 1st October 2022.


Funding Notes

Details of eligibility are given on the EPSRC website and only applications from candidates meeting these criteria will be considered: https://www.ukri.org/apply-for-funding/before-you-apply/check-if-you-are-eligible-for-research-and-innovation-funding/who-can-apply-for-funding/
UK/EU nationals are only eligible for this position and applications from non-UK/non-EU candidates will not be considered unless you have your own funding to cover the difference in fees (around £22,000 per annum).
The award will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3 1/2 years. The maintenance grant is £15,609 per annum for 2022/23, with the possibility of an increase for 2023/24.

References

For recent examples in this area from the group, see:
DNP NMR Reveals the Hidden Surface C-C Bond Growth Mechanism over ZnAlOx during Syngas Conversion. P. Gao, D. Xiao, Z. Zhao, S. Paul, F. Blanc, X. Han, G. Hou, X. Bao, J. Ener. Chem., 2022, 640. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2095495621005970?via%3Dihub
Detection of the Surface of Crystalline Y2O3 Using Direct 89Y Dynamic Nuclear Polarization, N. J. Brownbill, D. Lee, G. De Paëpe, F. Blanc, J. Phys. Chem. Lett., 2019, 3501. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jpclett.9b01185
Fast Detection and Structural Identification of Carbocations on Zeolites by Dynamic Nuclear Polarization Enhanced Solid-State NMR, D. Xiao, S. Xu, N. J. Brownbill, S. Paul, L. Chen, S. Pawsey, F. Aussenac, B. Su, X. Han, X. Bao, Z. Liu, F. Blanc, Chem. Sci. 2018, 8184. https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2018/sc/c8sc03848a
Oxygen-17 Dynamic Nuclear Polarisation Enhanced Solid-State NMR Spectroscopy at 18.8 T. N. J. Brownbill, D. Gajan, A. Lesage, L. Emsley, F. Blanc, Chem. Comm. 2017, 2563. https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2017/cc/c6cc09743j
Dynamic Nuclear Polarization NMR of Low Gamma Nuclei: Structural Insights into Hydrated Yttrium-doped BaZrO3. F. Blanc, L. Sperrin, D. Lee, R. Dervişoğlu, Y. Yamazaki, S. M. Haile, G. De Paëpe, C. P. Grey, J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2014, 2431. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jz5007669
Dynamic Nuclear Polarization NMR Spectroscopy Allows High Throughput Characterization of Microporous Organic Polymers. F. Blanc, S. Y. Chong, T. O. McDonald, D. J. Adams, S. Pawsey, M. A. Caporini, A. I. Cooper, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 15290. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/ja408074v
Dynamic Nuclear Polarization Enhanced Natural Abundance 17O Spectroscopy. F. Blanc, L. Sperrin, D. A. Jefferson, S. Pawsey, M. Rosay, C. P. Grey, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 2975. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/ja4004377
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