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Low-coordinate main-group chemistry: Phosphorus and Boron-doped aromatic compounds

School of Chemistry

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Dr M Cowley Applications accepted all year round Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Edinburgh United Kingdom Inorganic Chemistry Organic Chemistry Synthetic Chemistry

About the Project

Applications are invited for a 3.5-year PhD studentship entitled “Phosphorus- and boron-doped aromatic compounds: routes to new hybrid inorganic/organic materials” in the Cowley group at the EaStCHEM School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh.

 This project will focus on the design, synthesis, reactivity and electronic properties of main-group-element doped aromatic hydrocarbons. Our ambition is to generate fundamental understanding of reactivity, bonding and electronic structure in such compounds and to develop new classes of heterocycles that are relevant to materials chemistry (e.g. as emissive or conducting materials).

 The project will build on previous work in the Cowley group, which has explored the reactivity of P=B double bonds and established phosphaborenes as reagents for the simultaneous incorporation of phosphorus and boron into unsaturated organic compounds (see for example: Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2017, 56, 9953–9957). You are encouraged to contact Dr Michael Cowley to discuss the planned chemistry in greater detail before applying.

 The Cowley group focuses on low-oxidation or low-coordinate main-group chemistry, with a particular emphasis on compounds with unusual bonding or reactivity such as reductive elimination chemistry. We specialise in the chemistry of phosphorus and boron (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2017, 56, 9953–9957), silicon (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2019, 58, 1329–1333), and aluminium (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2020, https://doi.org/10.1002/anie.202011418). The Cowley group is committed to being an inclusive environment that welcomes and supports all individuals. We value tolerance, team-work, integrity, creativity, and the pursuit of excellence.

 Should you undertake this project, you will receive training in a wide variety of techniques. Synthesis of a wide range of main-group and organic compounds, frequently under inert atmosphere, will be required. Multinuclear NMR, UV/Vis spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, and X-ray crystallography will also be central techniques. The practical skills you will gain will be complemented by the scientific problem solving and presentation skills that you will develop in regular group meetings. You will have opportunities to present your work at suitable national and/or international conferences.

 You should possess a recent chemistry degree (first class or 2(i), or equivalent). You will need to demonstrate a strong interest in main-group and/or organometallic chemistry. You should have some experience of inorganic and/or organic synthesis (or a closely related area), and excellent written and oral communication skills. Previous experience in the preparation and manipulation of air- and moisture-sensitive compounds, is highly desirable, but emphatically not a prerequisite.


 Informal enquiries are strongly encouraged and should be addressed to Dr Michael Cowley (). To apply, please send a covering letter outlining your previous research experience and reasons for applying, together with an up-to-date CV with details of two referees to before 31st January 2020.

 Equality and Diversity

 The School of Chemistry holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to advance gender equality in higher education. The University is a member of the Race Equality Charter and is a Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champion, actively promoting LGBT equality. The University has a range of initiatives to support a family friendly working environment. See our University Initiatives website for further information. University Initiatives website: https://www.ed.ac.uk/equality-diversity/help-advice/family-friendly

Funding Notes

The fully-funded (tuition fees & stipend) 42-month PhD studentship is available to start 1st September 2021. The stipend rate for 2020/21 is £15,285 per annum.
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