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Exploration of Ionic Conduction in Palmierites

   Department of Chemistry

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  Prof A McLaughlin, Prof J M S Skakle, Dr J Dawson  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Ensuring reliable, clean energy sources is one of the greatest challenges facing society today. Ceramic hydrogen fuel cells offer a real solution: the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen produces water and electricity, providing a clean alternative to fossil fuels. An important ambition is to lower the running temperature of ceramic fuel cells to less than 600 °C as this will reduce costs and increase reliability and lifetime.1, 2 To reach this important goal further fundamental research is urgently needed to discover new oxide ion/proton conductors with high conductivity at temperatures lower than 600 °C to be used as the electrolyte in the cell. In this regard, we have been investigating a family of chemical compounds known as palmierites and have shown for the first time that the palmierite compound Sr3V2O8 presents significant oxide ion and proton conductivity. 3 This is a new exciting direction in solid-state chemistry research.

We have a PhD studentship available to further investigate ionically conducting palmierites which is fully funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The studentship is located at the University of Aberdeen  and will focus on the synthesis of palmierite metal oxides which exhibit high ionic conductivity at intermediate temperatures (less than 600 °C). The materials will be synthesised via conventional solid state chemistry techniques and analysed by a range of electrochemical (impedance spectroscopy, concentration cell, etc.) and physicochemical (thermogravimetric analysis, electron microscopy, etc.) methods. An important part of the project will be the characterisation of the crystal structures of the materials via the use of X-ray and neutron diffraction. There will be the opportunity to perform neutron scattering experiments at world-leading facilities such as the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source in Oxfordshire and the Institut Laue Langevin in Grenoble (France). 

This project is part of a collaboration with researchers at Newcastle University who will perform computational modelling (molecular dynamics and density functional theory) on a range of different palmierites to rationalise empirical structure-property relationships and enable future materials design.

There will also be the opportunity to attend conferences and training courses, as well as outreach events.

The successful candidate will be expected to have a UK Honours Degree (or equivalent) at 2.1 or above in Chemistry.


  • Before submitting an application, please contact [Email Address Removed] for more information and informal enquiries. General application enquiries can be made to [Email Address Removed].
  • Formal applications can be completed online:
  • You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry to ensure your application is passed to the correct team.
  • Please clearly note the name of the supervisor and project title on the application form. If you do not mention the project title and the supervisor on your application, it will not be considered for the studentship.
  • Please include: a cover letter specific to the project you are applying for, an up-to-date copy of your academic CV, and relevant educational certificates and transcripts.
  • Please note: you DO NOT need to provide a research proposal with this application.

The expected start date for the project is October 2022 (or soon after).

Funding Notes

*A Stipend based on RCUK rates
*UK Level Tuition Fees
*Research and Training Costs
*Funding for this project will cover home/UK fees (this includes EU nationals that hold UK settled or pre-settled status).
The expected start date is October 2022.


1. E. D. Wachsman & K. T. Lee, Science 334, 935 (2011).
2. E. Fabbri, D. Pergolesi & E. Traversa, Chem. Soc. Rev. 39, 4355 (2010).
3. S. Fop, J. A. Dawson, D. Tawse, M. G. Skellern, J. M. S. Skakle & A. C. Mclaughlin, Proton and Oxide Ion Conductivity in Palmierite Oxides. ChemRxiv 2022. doi:10.26434/chemrxiv-2022-58mlf
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