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Exploiting Nanoparticles for Thermal and Light Driven Valorisation of Carbon Dioxide (Ref: Renu20-12 )

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 31, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Renewable Energy Northeast Universities (ReNU) is a collaborative doctoral training programme run by the Universities of Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham. In addition to undertaking an individual scientific research project at one of the three partner Universities, doctoral candidates will engage with added value training opportunities, for example in business, innovation and internationalisation through a 4-year training programme that has been designed to maximise the benefits of a cohort approach to doctoral training. The start date is 1st October 2020.

This project will develop transformative catalyst technology based on gold nanoparticles stabilized in a polymer immobilized ionic liquid scaffold for the thermal and photocatalytic conversion of carbon dioxide into formic acid and hydrocarbons, respectively.

In the case of thermal transformations, highly efficient and selective catalysts that can convert carbon dioxide into formic acid under mild conditions and with a stable activity profile will be prepared. State of the art, in situ spectroscopic and kinetic studies will develop an understanding of how catalyst properties such as size, shape, surface electronic structure, carbon dioxide absorption capacity and surface-support interactions influence catalyst performance. This will guide identification of an optimum catalyst to be integrated into an automated continuous flow reactor platform for rapid screening of catalyst and optimization of performance.

The second phase of the programme will investigate light-driven reduction of CO2 (artificial-photosynthesis) to produce “solar fuels”. This will be achieved by exploring the photophysical properties of gold nanoparticles as a function of ionic liquid structure in order to tune their efficacy as plasmonic photocatalysts for multielectron reduction of CO2 and develop a stable and scalable system for photocatalytic CO2 reduction.

This project is supervised by Dr Simon Doherty. For enquiries about the project, please contact .

How to apply:
Applicant should include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words and include the advert reference number.

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system at You will need to:
• Insert the programme code 8208F in the programme of study section
• Select PhD Energy Materials as the programme of study
• Insert the advert reference number (e.g. renu20-02) in the studentship/partnership reference field
• Attach a covering letter and CV, quote code (e.g. renu20-02), and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
• Attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 1st Class (Hons) or 2:1; or a Masters (preference for Merit or above) in an appropriate subject area.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Newcastle University of elsewhere.

Funding Notes

The studentship covers full Home fees and an annual stipend at UKRI rates (for 2019/20, this was £15,009 pa). Also significant additional funding to cover research costs and local, national and international travel (conferences and exchanges).

Please note that the scholarship award is set at the Home/EU level of fees. Depending on how you meet the EPSRC’s eligibility criteria, you may be entitled to a full or a partial award. Note that up to 4 offers of a PhD place will be made for the ReNU CDT projects advertised by Newcastle University.

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