Experimental Discovery and Electrochemical Characterisation of New Solid-State Materials

   Department of Chemistry

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  Prof M J Rosseinsky, Prof L Hardwick, Dr Ruiyong Chen  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This position will remain open until filled and so early applications are encouraged.

New materials are needed to advance technologies such as batteries for electric vehicles and stationary energy storage, electrocatalysts for energy conversion and fuel generation (such as electrochemical CO2 reduction, hydrogen storage), and to develop basic science. This PhD project is an exciting opportunity for the experimental synthesis and detailed characterisation of new solid materials. The project will combine synthetic solid-state chemistry, advanced structural analysis (crystallography), and measurements of physical and electrochemical properties, with the opportunity to cover one or more of these aspects during the project. The project will focus on the discovery of new bonding types and structures in energy storage and conversion materials such as inorganic solids, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), organic intercalation hosts, and hybrid organic/inorganic materials, and understanding of the relationships between the structural feature, underlying physical-chemical mechanisms and electrochemical properties. This project will explore new “multivalent ion” cathode design strategies and novel intercalation and solid-state diffusion chemistry beyond the established lithium battery technology.

You will work closely with a strong team of computational and experimental material chemists working together in the discovery of new materials. The project is based in the newly-opened Materials Innovation Factory (MIF) (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/materials-innovation-factory/) at the University of Liverpool. As well as obtaining knowledge and experience in materials synthesis, crystallographic and measurement techniques, the candidate will develop skills in teamwork and scientific communication, as computational and experimental researchers within the team work closely together. There are extensive opportunities to use synchrotron X-ray and neutron scattering facilities, and benefits of national/international research collaboration environment.

Applications are welcomed from students with a 2:1 or higher master’s degree or equivalent in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science or Electrochemistry, particularly those with some of the skills directly relevant to the project outlined above. Experience in electrochemistry, scattering methods and/or electron microscopy is an advantage. Outstanding candidates with strong motivation to conduct interdisciplinary research are invited to submit their applications via the University of Liverpool online portal: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/how-to-apply/

For enquiries please contact Prof Matt Rosseinsky ([Email Address Removed]) or Dr. Ruiyong Chen ([Email Address Removed])

Further Information:

The inorganic materials chemistry group, led by Professor Rosseinsky at the University of Liverpool (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/chemistry/research/rosseinsky-group/about/), focusses its research on the discovery of new inorganic and hybrid organic-inorganic solid state compounds. The research involves developing new capability for materials discovery, discovering and exploring the chemistry of new classes of material, and developing materials for particular applications.

We are developing a new approach to materials discovery that integrates computational chemistry and increasingly computer science (for example, machine learning methods) into the experimental synthesis programme. This has led to the synthesis of a range of novel materials with a variety of functional properties. These successes arise from a close working relationship between computational and experimental researchers within the group, which is part of the Leverhulme Centre for Functional Materials Design (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/leverhulme-research-centre/), where researchers with physical science and computer science backgrounds collaborate closely. The successful candidate will work in this cross-disciplinary environment, using their experimental skills in close collaboration with the computational expertise within the research group, to accelerate the discovery of new materials.

Coupled with our focus on new methods to discover inorganic materials and the exploration of new chemistry in the solid state, we work on a wide range of application areas, including but not limited to battery materials, transparent conductors for low-energy buildings, heterogeneous catalysis for sustainable manufacturing, thermoelectrics for waste heat recovery from industrial processes, and lead-free piezoelectric and multiferroic materials for sensing and low-energy information storage. We have extensive facilities for the characterisation of many properties related to these applications, providing an opportunity to learn many measurement and data analysis skills. We have extensive materials synthesis and characterisation capability including state-of-the-art laboratory space, powder (6 instruments (Mo, Cu, Co radiation) including two rotating anode instruments with variable temperature and atmosphere and in situ battery measurement capability) and single crystal (Rigaku rotating anode) X-ray diffraction; X-ray instrumentation for parallel sample and thin film analysis (Cu rotating anode), solvothermal reaction vessels, robotic liquid and solid handlers and synthesis robots both in our laboratories and in the Materials Innovation Factory, over 50 furnaces (muffle and tube), five ball mills including inert atmosphere capability, high pressure synthesis (Rockland multianvil), gas sorption/breakthrough measurements (Micromeritics, Quantachrome and Hiden instruments), GC-MS, liquid phase catalytic batch reactors (to 100 bar), gas phase catalytic reactors, TPR/TPO, FE-SEM, FTIR, particle sizing, NMR, (combinatorial) RHEED-monitored Pulsed Laser Deposition chambers for thin film growth (Neocera and PVD Products), multi-mode AFM (Agilent), spark plasma sintering (Thermal Technologies).

We have state-of-the-art equipment for solid state property measurements, for example: SQUID magnetometry (7T, ac option, magnetoelectric coefficient measurement, 4-1000K), PPMS (14T; for thermal and electrical transport, heat capacity, dielectric properties), Dilatometry, Laser Flash Analysis of thermal conductivity, Seebeck, Ferroelectric, piezoelectric and strain measurements, variable pO2 dc conductivity and impedance spectroscopy; symmetrical and full-cell SOFC characterisation. We have the ability to make measurements on solid electrolytes over a range of temperatures with sputtering-deposited electrodes all within a glove box. We have the capability to prepare battery cells (coin/Swagelok cells, crimping, disassembling) for electrochemical measurements (Biologic 6-channel potentiostat), all within a solvent glove box dedicated to working with Li and Mg electrode materials in particular.

The research will be performed in the newly opened Materials Innovation Factory with 2750 m2 of top-quality research space on the top floor of the building, and access to the extensive shared robotic synthesis and characterisation facilities on the ground floor.

Funding Notes

The funding for this position is from an EPSRC DTP studentship. The eligibility details of both are below.
EPSRC eligibility
Applications from candidates meeting the eligibility requirements of the EPSRC are welcome – please refer to the EPSRC website https://epsrc.ukri.org/skills/students/guidance-on-epsrc-studentships/eligibility/.
The award will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years. The maintenance grant is £15,285 pa for 2020/21, with the possibility of an increase for 2021/22


J. Gamon, AJ. Perez, LAH. Jones, M. Zanella, LM. Daniels, RE. Morris, CC. Tang, TD. Veal, LJ. Hardwick, MS. Dyer, JB. Claridge and MJ. Rosseinsky, (2020) Na2Fe2OS2, a new earth abundant oxysulphide cathode material for Na-ion batteries. J. Mater. Chem. A., 8, 20553-20569.
M. Li, H. Niu, J. Druce, H. Tellez, T. Ishihara, JA. Kilner, H. Gasparyan, MJ. Pitcher, W. Xu, JF. Shin, LM. Daniels, LAH. Jones, VR. Dhanak, D. Hu, M. Zanella, JB. Claridge and MJ. Rosseinsky, (2020) A CO2-Tolerant Perovskite Oxide with High Oxide Ion and Electronic Conductivity. Adv. Mater., 32 (4), 1905200
J. Gamon, BB. Duff, MS. Dyer, C. Collins, LM. Daniels, TW. Surta, PM. Sharp, MW. Gaultois, F. Blanc, JB. Claridge, MJ. Rosseinsky, (2019) Computationally Guided Discovery of the Sulfide Li3AlS3 in the Li-Al-S Phase Field: Structure and Lithium Conductivity. Chem. Mater., 31 (23), 9699-9714.
ZN. Taylor, AJ. Perez, JA. Coca-Clemente, F. Braga, NE. Drewett, MJ. Pitcher, WJ. Thomas, MS. Dyer, C. Collins, M. Zanella, T. Johnson, S. Day, C. Tang, VR. Dhanak, JB. Claridge, LJ. Hardwick, MJ. Rosseinsky, (2019) Stabilization of O-O Bonds by d0 Cations in Li4+xNi1-xWO6 (0 < x < 0.25) Rock Salt Oxides as the Origin of Large Voltage Hysteresis. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 141 (18), 7333-7346
BT. Leube, KK. Inglis, EJ. Carrington, PM. Sharp, JF. Shin, AR. Neale, TD. Manning, MJ. Pitcher, LJ. Hardwick, MS. Dyer, F. Blanc, JB. Claridge and MJ. Rosseinsky, Lithium Transport in Li4.4M0.4M′0.6S4 (M = Al3+, Ga3+, and M′ = Ge4+, Sn4+): Combined Crystallographic, Conductivity, Solid State NMR, and Computational Studies. Chem. Mater. 2018, 30 (20), 7183-7200.
F. D. Romero, M. J. Pitcher, C. I. Hiley, G. F. S. Whitehead, S. Kar, A. Y. Ganin, D. Antypov, C. Collins, M. S. Dyer, G. Klupp, R. H. Colman, K. Prassides, M. J. Rosseinsky, Redox-controlled potassium intercalation into two polyaromatic hydrocarbon solids, Nat. Chem. 2017, 9 (7) 644-652.
JF. Shin, W. Xu, M. Zanella, K. Dawson, SN. Savvin, JB. Claridge and MJ. Rosseinsky (2017) Self-assembled dynamic perovskite composite cathodes for intermediate temperature solid oxide fuel cells. Nature Energy, 2(3) 16214

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