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Earth-abundant organometallic reagents for sustainable synthesis

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, March 12, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

3.5 Year PhD Studentship available for September 2019

Applications are invited for highly motivated students wishing to undertake research towards a PhD in synthetic chemistry with Dr Fabrizio Ortu at the University of Leicester.

Dr Ortu’s research interests focus on the development of new co-operative chemistry of main group and f-block metals, applied to the discovery of sustainable methods for the production of fine chemicals.

The formation of carbon-carbon (C-C) bonds promoted by precious metal catalysts is a keystone of chemical industry. However, due to the reliance of these reactions on exceedingly expensive platinum-group metal catalysts, a top priority for the chemical industry is to make these processes more sustainable by employing Earth-abundant, cheap and non-toxic metals. This would have a tremendous impact on the production of key molecules for the pharmaceutical (e.g. Sartan drugs for the treatment of high blood-pressure) and agrochemical (e.g. Boscalid, a broad-spectrum fungicide) industries, constituting markets worth billions of pounds per annum.

One solution to this problem is to use lanthanide (Ln) and s-block metals, which are amongst the most abundant groups of elements in the Earth’s crust and are virtually non-toxic. In this project we will develop new organometallic chemistry of s-block and Ln metals to efficiently promote synergic C-H activation chemistry and photo-redox catalysis.

As part of this multidisciplinary project, the successful candidate will handle highly air- and moisture-sensitive materials and will develop a broad knowledge of synthetic chemistry. Additionally, the synthetic work will be complemented by hands-on experience of a wide range of characterisation techniques e.g. X-ray crystallography, multinuclear NMR, UV/vis/NIR spectroscopy etc.

Entry requirements

Applicants are required to hold/or expect to obtain a UK Bachelor Degree 2:1 or better in a relevant subject. The University of Leicester English language requirements apply where applicable:

Knowledge of synthetic chemistry and experience of anaerobic techniques is desirable, but adequate training will be provided.

How to apply

You should submit your application using our online application system:

Apply for a PhD in Chemistry

In the funding section of the application please indicate you wish to be considered for the Ortu 2019 Studentship

In the proposal section please provide the name of the supervisor and project.

Project / Funding Enquiries:

Application enquiries to

Closing date for applications : 21st March 2019


F. Ortu et al. Inorg. Chem., 2017, 56, 2496
F. Ortu et al. Chem. Eur. J., 2015, 21, 6949
F. Ortu et al. Inorg. Chem., 2013, 52, 12429

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