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High pressure hydrothermal synthesis of magnetic and electronic materials

Project Description

New inorganic materials are needed to advance technologies such as batteries for electric vehicles and grid storage, and to develop basic science. This PhD project is an exciting opportunity for the experimental synthesis and detailed characterisation of new inorganic solids. The project will combine synthetic solid-state chemistry, advanced structural analysis (crystallography) and measurement of physical properties, with the opportunity to focus on one or more of these aspects during the project. The project will concentrate on the synthesis of materials with new magnetic and electronic states using high pressure hydrothermal synthesis.
New magnetic and electronic states offer opportunities in basic science, such as topological materials and the generation of solid-state analogues of fundamental particles such as skyrmions. These states are also needed as the basis of low-energy information storage technologies,4 as current computing architectures require too much energy for the envisaged growth in computing through the internet of things and autonomous vehicles amongst many. This project targets the development of new chemistry that will isolate new materials that display these states.
Hydrothermal methods, where solutions of precursors are exposed to high temperatures and pressures in steel autoclaves, offer routes to materials with unusual structures and morphologies, whilst also stabilising transition metals in uncommon oxidation states which can lead to highly unique electronic, magnetic or catalytic properties. This synthetic approach is therefore ideally suited to this project, which aims to explore new solid-state materials, focussed towards new structure types that exhibit interesting magnetic or electronic transport properties. High temperature hydrothermal synthesis is underexplored in inorganic materials chemistry, and there are many previously unidentified structures and bonding types to be discovered
You will work closely with a strong team of computational and experimental material chemists working together in the discovery of new materials. The student will be part of the £8.6 million EPSRC Programme Grant in Integration of Computation and Experiment for Accelerated Materials Discovery, and based in the newly-opened Materials Innovation Factory (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/materials-innovation-factory/) at the University of Liverpool. As well as obtaining knowledge and experience in materials synthesis and crystallographic techniques, the student 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.
Applications are welcomed from students with a 2:1 or higher master’s degree or equivalent in Chemistry, Physics, or Materials Science, particularly those with some of the skills directly relevant to the project outlined above.

To apply please visit, http://www.liverpool.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/how-to-apply/ and click the ‘Ready to apply? Apply online’ button

Funding Notes

EPSRC eligibility
Please refer to the EPSRC website View Website

The award will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years. The maintenance grant is £15,009 pa for 2019-20, with the possibility of an increase for 2020/21.

GTA eligibility (EU or non-EU students only)
Depending on the successful applicant this studentship would include a commitment to work up to 77 hours per academic year to help with teaching-related activities. 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.


1. Gibson, Q. D.; Dyer, M. S.; Robertson, C.; Delacotte, C.; Manning, T. D.; Pitcher, M. J.; Daniels, L. M.; Zanella, M.; Alaria, J.; Claridge, J. B.; Rosseinsky, M. J., Bi2+2nO2+2nCu2−δSe2+n–δXδ (X = Cl, Br): A Three-Anion Homologous Series. Inorg. Chem. 2018, 57 (20), 12489-12500.
2. Gibson, Q. D.; Dyer, M. S.; Whitehead, G. F. S.; Alaria, J.; Pitcher, M. J.; Edwards, H. J.; Claridge, J. B.; Zanella, M.; Dawson, K.; Manning, T. D.; Dhanak, V. R.; Rosseinsky, M. J., Bi4O4Cu1.7Se2.7Cl0.3: Intergrowth of BiOCuSe and Bi2O2Se Stabilized by the Addition of a Third Anion. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139 (44), 15568-15571.
3. Delacotte, C.; Whitehead, G. F. S.; Pitcher, M. J.; Robertson, C. M.; Sharp, P. M.; Dyer, M. S.; Alaria, J.; Claridge, J. B.; Darling, G. R.; Allan, D. R.; Winter, G.; Rosseinsky, M. J., Structure determination and crystal chemistry of large repeat mixed-layer hexaferrites. IUCrJ 2018, 5 (6), 681-698.
4. Kang, W.; Huang, Y.; Zhang, X.; Zhou, Y.; Zhao, W., Skyrmion-Electronics: An Overview and Outlook. Proceedings of the IEEE 2016, 104 (10), 2040-2061.

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