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EPSRC DTP PhD Studentship in Understanding Catalyst Preparation via In-Situ Imaging

   Cardiff School of Chemistry

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  Dr Thomas Slater  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The School of Chemistry at Cardiff University are delighted to offer this fully funded EPSRC studentship starting in October 2023.

Project Summary:

Heterogeneous catalysis plays a hugely important role in the production of the world’s chemical building blocks and is becoming increasingly important in the conversion of pollutants and greenhouse gases. The aim of this studentship is to better understand the processes used to prepare highly important heterogeneous catalysts for reactions such as the conversion of carbon dioxide to methanol. The student will use atomic-resolution electron microscopy to observe the formation of nanoparticle catalysts in-situ during calcination and reduction processes (i.e. while heating under gaseous conditions). The project will provide important insight into how catalytic nanoparticles form and enable the design of improved catalysts for a wide range of chemical reactions.

The student will work within the internationally leading Cardiff Catalysis Institute, which has recently moved into a multimillion pound new building, the Translational Research Hub. The project will primarily use a new aberration-corrected Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope to image the structure of catalytic materials at atomic resolution (i.e. observing individual atoms). As part of the new microscope, we have holders that enable gaseous and liquid conditions within the microscope, enabling us to watch the formation of metal nanoparticles and how they change under reaction conditions.

The student will join a small team of dedicated electron microscopists, but will be supported by a large cohort of PhD students across the wider institute. They will be trained in synthetic and analytical techniques for heterogeneous catalysis, in addition to training that will enable them to be a primary user of the new atomic-resolution scanning transmission electron microscope and associated in-situ systems. The student will be given the opportunity to present at international conferences and will visit industrial and academic partners both nationally and internationally.

Supervisor - Dr Thomas Slater - People - Cardiff University

Start date - 1st October 2023

Academic Criteria

Candidates should hold or expect to gain a first class degree or a good 2.1 and/or an appropriate Master’s level qualification (or their equivalent).  

Applications from students with a non-traditional background are welcomed.

English Language criteria

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language (IELTS 6.5 or equivalent) English language requirements for postgraduate students - Study - Cardiff University

How to apply

Interested applicants should provide details of their qualifications, including a CV and a brief covering letter outlining their motivation and experience for the position. A formal application must also be submitted.

Applications should be received no later than 3rd February 2023. All applications should be submitted via the online application portal, stating your supervisor’s name(s), at

Interviews will be held via Zoom or Teams w/c 20th February 2023. During the interviews, applicants should give a short (5 minute) presentation on their experience and suitability and answer a series of panel questions.

We are aiming to undertake our first round of selection with anonymized applications, to ensure that selection cannot reflect typical biases in selection processes. For this reason, please provide documents in a manner that is easy to anonymize (i.e. names and gender are used only where necessary).

Further information

For any enquiries about the project and research, please contact Dr Thomas Slater ([Email Address Removed])

For further information about the application and interview process, including informal questions, please contact the Chemistry PGR office ([Email Address Removed])

Funding Notes

Funded by the EPSRC DTP for 3.5 years and covers tuition fees, an annual tax-free living stipend of in line with UKRI minimum rates (currently £17,668) and includes access to a Research Training Support Grant (currently £4000). If you have a disability you may be entitled to a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) on top of your studentship.
We welcome applications for full and part time study.
EPSRC DTP studentships are available to home and international students. Up to 30% of our cohort can comprise international students, once the limit has been reached, we are unable to make offers to international students.


Cardiff University is committed to support students from a range of backgrounds and circumstances. Where needed, we will work with you to take into consideration reasonable project adaptations (for example to support caring responsibilities, disabilities, other significant personal circumstances) as well as flexible working and part‐time study requests, to enable greater access to a PhD. All our supervisors support us with this aim, so please feel comfortable in discussing further with the listed PhD project supervisor to see what is feasible.
Cardiff University is committed to supporting and promoting equality and diversity and to creating an inclusive environment for all. We welcome applications from all members of the global community irrespective of age, disability, sex, gender identity, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation.

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