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Electrochemical Modification of Copper Electrodes for Carbon Dioxide Electro-Reduction

Department of Chemistry

York United Kingdom Chemical Engineering Inorganic Chemistry Chemistry Materials Science Synthetic Chemistry

About the Project

Background: Electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide at a copper surface, the carbon dioxide reduction reaction (CO2RR), is a potentially sustainable and scalable method of converting carbon dioxide into valuable molecules and delivering a low carbon future. The Parkin group have expertise in understanding how redox-enzyme structure controls biocatalysis (,, and decorating electrode surfaces with near-monolayers of organic functionalities ( The Douthwaite group are experts in solar-fuel production and are developing new carbon dioxide electro-reduction devices (,!divAbstract). The aim of this project is to unite this expertise to produce modified copper electrode surfaces, inspired by enzyme active site design, to yield improved product selectivity in CO2RR.

Objectives/Experimental Approaches: You will follow established Parkin group protocols to synthesise and characterise small molecules which you will electro-graft onto copper surfaces. You will be trained to characterise these new organic-functionalised copper materials using the cutting edge instruments in the University Nanocentre ( These new materials will then be tested for their CO2RR performance in electrochemical experiments conducted in the Douthwaite lab, with in-line gas chromatography product analysis and post-electrolysis NMR of the electrolyte. Promising materials will be stability tested before exploring if successful electrode-modifications can be combined with copper nano-structuring (collaboration with Dr Andrew Pratt, Physics).

Training: Appropriate training will be provided for all aspects of the work. All Chemistry research students have access to our innovative Doctoral Training in Chemistry (iDTC): cohort-based training to support the development of scientific, transferable and employability skills:

The Department of Chemistry holds an Athena SWAN Gold Award and is committed to supporting equality and diversity for all staff and students. The Department strives to provide a working environment which allows all staff and students to contribute fully, to flourish, and to excel:

You should hold or expect to achieve the equivalent of at least a UK upper second class degree in Chemistry or a related subject. Please check the entry requirements for your country:

For more information about the project, click on the supervisor’s name above to email the supervisor. For more information about the application process or funding, please click on email institution

Funding Notes

This project is available to students from any country who can fund their own studies.

The Department of Chemistry at the University of York is pleased to offer Wild Fund Scholarships. Applications are welcomed from those who meet the PhD entry criteria from any country outside the UK. Scholarships will be awarded on supervisor support, academic merit, country of origin, expressed financial need and departmental strategy. For further details and deadlines, please see our website: View Website

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