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Experimental materials design and discovery

Project Description

This project will suit applicants with interests in the synthesis of new materials (inorganic, organic, polymeric, hybrid) exploiting the exceptional facilities of the Materials Innovation Factory. Example targets are the discovery of entirely new materials classes (e.g., materials containing three distinct anions), photocatalysts, porous materials for gas separation and storage, magnetic materials, multiferroic materials, materials for battery applications.

Examples of the types of material to be studied include synthetic porous materials with protein-like properties (Chemical control of structure and guest uptake by a conformationally mobile porous material Nature 565 213 2019), solid electrolytes for safer batteries (Chemistry of Materials 30, 7183 2018), new high capacity cathodes using anion and cation redox (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019 10.1021/jacs.8b13633), new photocatalysts (Nature Chemistry 10, 1180–1189 (2018)) and materials with exceptionally large unit cells (IUCRJ 5 681 2019). This is simply an illustrative list, highly motivated well-qualified candidates interested in any aspect of synthetic materials chemistry are encouraged to apply.

New materials are needed to advance technologies such as batteries for electric vehicles and grid storage, catalysts and porous materials for the sustainable manufacture of chemicals and generation of fuels such as hydrogen, magnetic, multiferroic and ferroelectric materials for next-generation information storage, and to develop basic science, such as new topological materials and entirely new families of crystal structures. These PhD projects are an exciting opportunity for the experimental synthesis and detailed characterisation of new solid state materials. The project will combine synthetic chemistry, advanced structural analysis (crystallography) and measurement of physical properties (e.g., energy gas storage, carbon capture, performance as a battery electrode or electrolyte), with the opportunity to focus on one or more of these aspects during the project. You will work closely with a strong team of computational and experimental material chemists working together in the discovery of new materials.

These projects form part of the Doctoral Training Centre for Next-Generation Materials Chemistry ( The University of Liverpool is offering 8 Ph.D positions starting October 2019 in this new Centre that will deliver a new cross-disciplinary approach to materials chemistry research. The Centre will train PhD graduates at the interface of physical science, AI, data science, and robotics to create the leaders in data-enabled science that UK industry and academia requires to deliver R&D 4.0. We seek applicants with a strong undergraduate background in chemistry, computer science, engineering, physics, mathematics or materials science for these posts.

The 42 month Ph.D projects will tackle multidisciplinary problems which are co-defined by industrial partners, working with University of Liverpool academics in the physical sciences, computer science, and engineering, with supervisory teams spanning the range of disciplines required to tackle the research problems. Core training in robotics, automation and data science will form part of a unifying curriculum, together with leadership and entrepreneurship training, to underpin the individual research projects.

Opportunities are available for candidates with strong academic backgrounds with interests across these areas: students will be aligned with potential supervisors in the Chemistry, Physics and Engineering Departments both through assessment of fit given student background and the expressed project interests of the student, so there is no need to express a detailed preference at the point of application.

Students in the Doctoral Training Centre for Next-Generation Materials Chemistry ( will be located in the newly opened Materials Innovation Factory (MIF -, which collocates academic and industrial researchers over 4 floors, with state-of-the-art automated research capabilities, including the £3M Formulation Engine. They will benefit from the cross-disciplinary training environment of the MIF, which contains staff from Physics and Computer Science as well as Chemistry, and the well-established community around the Leverhulme Research Centre in Functional Materials Design (, which is typified by a vibrant functioning engagement between physical science and computer science. Industrial partners include Unilever, Johnson Matthey and NSG Pilkington.

Name and email address to direct enquiries to:

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Troy Manning ().

Tel. No. for Enquiries: 0151 794 3563

Please apply by completing the online postgraduate research application form here:

Please ensure you quote the following reference on your application: University of Liverpool Doctoral Training Centre in Next-Generation Materials Chemistry CDT01

Applications should be made as soon as possible.

Supervisors may be subject to change.

Funding Notes

The award will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years. The maintenance grant will be £15,009 pa for 2019/20. The award will pay full home/EU tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years. Non-EU applicants may have to contribute to the higher non-EU overseas fee. One of the positions will have a requirement to work up to 88 hours/year in teaching-related activity in the Department of Chemistry and may be asked to teach up to 144 hours per year if required, with teaching above 88 hours being paid at the standard University demonstrator rate.


Zoe N. Taylor, Arnaud J. Perez, José A. Coca-Clemente, Filipe Braga, Nicholas E. Drewett, Michael J. Pitcher, William J. Thomas, Matthew S. Dyer, Christopher Collins, Marco Zanella, Timothy Johnson, Sarah Day, Chiu Tang, Vinod R. Dhanak, John B. Claridge, Laurence J. Hardwick and Matthew J. Rosseinsky Stabilization of O-O bonds by d0 cations in Li4+xNi1-xWO6 (0 ≤ x ≤ 0.25) rocksalt oxides as the origin of large voltage hysteresis J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019 10.1021/jacs.8b13633)

C Collins, M S Dyer, M J Pitcher, G F S Whitehead, M Zanella, P Mandal, J B Claridge, G R Darling, & M J Rosseinsky, Accelerated discovery of two crystal structure types in a complex inorganic phase field, Nature 546 (2017) 280-284

Q D Gibson, M S Dyer, G F S Whitehead, J Alaria, M J Pitcher, H J Edwards, J B Claridge, M Zanella, K Dawson, T D Manning, et al. Bi4O4Cu1.7Se2.7Cl0.3: Intergrowth of BiOCuSe and Bi2O2Se Stabilized by the Addition of a Third Anion, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 139 (2017) 15568-15571

H C Sansom, G F S Whitehead, M S Dyer, M Zanella, T D Manning, M J Pitcher, T J Whittles, V R Dhanak, J Alaria, J B Claridge, et al., AgBiI4 as a Lead-Free Solar Absorber with Potential Application in Photovoltaics, Chem. Mater. 29 (2017) 1538-1549

P Mandal, M J Pitcher, J Alaria, H Niu, P Borisov, P Stamenov, J. B. Claridge, & M J Rosseinsky, Designing switchable polarization and magnetization at room temperature in an oxide, Nature 525 (2015) 363-366

M J Pitcher, P Mandal, M S Dyer, J Alaria, P Borisov, H Niu, J B Claridge, & M J Rosseinsky, Tilt engineering of spontaneous polarization and magnetization above 300 K in a bulk layered perovskite, Science 347 (2015) 420–424

J Alaria, P Borisov, M S Dyer, T D Manning, S Lepadatu, M G Cain, E D Mishina, N E Sherstyuk, N A Ilyin, J Hadermann, D Lederman, J B Claridge, & M J Rosseinsky, Engineered spatial inversion symmetry breaking in an oxide heterostructure built from isosymmetric room-temperature magnetically ordered components, Chem. Sci. 5 (2014) 1599–1610

M S Dyer, C Collins, D Hodgeman, P A Chater, A Demont, S Romani, R Sayers, M F Thomas, J B Claridge, G R Darling, & M J Rosseinsky, Computationally Assisted Identification of Functional Inorganic Materials, Science 340 (2013) 847–852.

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