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Highly Electrophilic Nitrenium Radicals: Synthesis, Characterization and Catalytic Applications

   Department of Chemistry

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  Dr M Mehta, Dr Alice Bowen  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

A fully funded EPSRC studentship is available for a highly motivated outstanding chemist to undertake in the field of main group synthesis, frustrated Lewis pair catalysis, and EPR spectroscopy. Our research team is interested in developing catalysts based on environment-friendly sustainable elements, such as boron, aluminium, phosphorus and nitrogen; designed to replace catalysis based on heavy metals that can be polluting and are a finite resource.

Molecular compounds featuring nitrogen atoms are typically regarded as Lewis bases and have been extensively studied as donor ligands in coordination chemistry or as nucleophiles in organic chemistry. Nitrenium cations turn this reactivity on their head and are nitrogen‐based Lewis acids. Previously, our group has found that nitrenium cations can be applied as Lewis acid catalysts to affect a number of key industrially relevant transformations. More efficient nitrenium catalysts can be built by increasing the Lewis acidity at the reactive nitrogen centre. During this project, the student will synthesize and fully characterize highly electrophilic nitrenium cations. We aim to understand the structure and reactivity of these molecules using a range of analytical techniques. Next the nitrenium compounds will be investigated as components in radical frustrated Lewis pair catalysis, and the knowledge gained used to optimise the catalytic properties.

The student will receive training in: Schlenk line chemistry, catalysis chemistry, analytical techniques including multi-nuclear NMR and EPR spectroscopy, cyclic voltammetry, XRD diffraction, and computational chemistry.

The University of Manchester also provides training opportunities for PhD students in scientific writing, business engagement and other scientific skills. 

Academic background of candidates 

Applicants are expected to hold, or about to obtain, a minimum upper second class undergraduate degree (or overseas equivalent) in Chemistry. A Masters degree in a relevant subject and/or experience in Schlenk handling of air sensitive materials, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, or EPR spectroscopy is desirable, although training will also be provided. 

To apply please follow the link below:

Contacts for further Information

Dr Meera Mehta:

[Email Address Removed]

 Dr Alice Bowen:

[Email Address Removed]

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact. We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status.

We also support applications from those returning from a career break or other roles. We consider offering flexible study arrangements (including part-time: 50%, 60% or 80%, depending on the project/funder).

All appointments are made on merit.

Funding Notes

This is a 3.5 year EPSRC DTG studentship. Funding will cover UK tuition fee and stipend only. The University of Manchester aims to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK. We are able to offer a limited number of scholarships that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.
Start date: September 2022


M. Mehta, J. M. Goicoechea, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2020, 59, 2715–2719.

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