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Heterogeneous Catalyst Design, Synthesis and Application for Diverse Organic Transformations


Project Description

Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) have great potential within heterogeneous catalysis for fine chemicals synthesis, which derives from their high and controllable porosity and their great chemical versatility. This fully-funded PhD project, which is a collaboration with Glaxo Smith-Kline (GSK), builds on our recent discovery that certain MOFs can readily be decorated with ‘tagged’ molecular catalysts or catalytic ligands (Prasad et al. Chem. Eur. J. 2018, 24, 15309). We aim to explore new tandem transformations that make use of the multi-functional MOF catalysts we are preparing, and to determine the structure-performance relationship for these catalysts by quantitative approaches. This timely development of new materials will make a significant impact upon the efficiency and “green-ness” of synthesis of pharmaceutical intermediates.

The successful candidate will be responsible for the design, synthesis, structural characterisation and assessment of MOF catalysts in a wide range of transformations. A strong interest in carrying out research across different research areas will enable the successful candidate to acquire the broad range of skills and experience required. The successful candidate need not possess all of these skills initially but should be interested in chemical catalysis and reaction kinetics.

All aspects of the project will be supervised by an experienced academic and industrial team. As well as being an impactful and fascinating area of current research, this iCASE PhD will provide an ideal stepping-stone towards a career in either academia or the chemical industry. The School of Chemistry provides an excellent environment for research and study. https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/chemistry/ The research will take place in both a synthetic chemistry and catalysis laboratory (M. L. Clarke) and a materials research laboratory (P. A. Wright) and will include project meetings and extended research visits to GSK Stevenage. The School has extensive NMR (solution- and solid-state) and MS facilities, and a range of materials characterisation techniques, including diffraction, electron microscopy, porosimetry and access to molecular modelling. Details of study at St Andrews University can be found at https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/study/why/ and https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/chemistry/prospective/pg/why/

Informal enquiries can be made by emailing the academic supervisors, Paul Wright and Matt Clarke ( and )

Funding Notes

This iCASE award is available for UK students who should hold or expect to obtain a 2.1 Chemistry Masters degree or above. The start date can be any time from March 2020 until September 2020. Funding will cover tuition fees and a maintenance stipend. Funding is available for up to 4 years.

How good is research at University of St Andrews in Chemistry?
(joint submission with University of Edinburgh)

FTE Category A staff submitted: 37.30

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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