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Metastable inorganic materials for energy applications

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, February 28, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The project will use low-temperature solvothermal routes to discover new metastable inorganic materials using a phase diagram approach and explore potential applications in energy devices, for example in thermoelectric waste heat recovery. It will involve collaborations with microscopists, physicists and experiments at the UK central neutron and synchrotron X-ray facilities.

The project is based around the recent realization discovery that phase diagrams between simple but different structures, such as MnO (rocksalt) and ZnO (wurtzite) contain large domains where new metastable phases may be found (Holder et al., Science Advances 2017, 3, e1700270). These phases can have unique structures (e.g. Science Advances 2018, 4, eaaq1442; Journal of Materials Chemistry A 2017, 5, 16873) and can underpin a host of applications, including thermoelectrics, but also others like ionic conduction. The studentship would focus on accessing these new metastable nanostructured metal oxides and chalcogenides using low-temperature solvothermal synthesis and explore their application in thin-film thermoelectrics but also as electrochemical energy storage and conversion materials through a collaboration with the University of Twente. A major goal is to extend our synthetic and characterization work into the more applied realm of small prototypes, e.g. thin-film thermoelectric devices or micro batteries.

Name of supervisor: Dr Jan-Willem Bos, email:


All applicants must have or expect to have a 1st class MChem, MPhys, MSci, MEng or equivalent degree by Autumn 2020. Selection will be based on academic excellence and research potential, and all short-listed applicants will be interviewed (in person or by Skype). Some of our scholarships are only open to UK/EU applicants who meet residency requirements set out by EPSRC. Some scholarships are available for exceptional overseas candidates

Closing Date

All applications must be received by 28th February 2020. All successful candidates should usually expect to start in September/October 2020.

How to Apply

Apply Online:
When applying through the Heriot-Watt on-line system please ensure you provide the following information:
(a) in ‘Study Option’
You will need to select ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Postgraduate Research’. ‘Programme’ presents you with a drop-down menu. Choose Chemistry PhD and select September 2020 for study option (this can be updated at a later date if required)
(b) in ‘Research Project Information’
You will be provided with a free text box for details of your research project. Enter Title and Reference number of the project for which you are applying and also enter the supervisor’s name.

This information will greatly assist us in tracking your application.

Please note that once you have submitted your application, it will not be considered until you have uploaded your CV and transcripts.

Funding Notes

Level of Award: We have a number of scholarships available. The annual stipend will be approx. £15,000 and full fees will be paid for a period of between 3 to 3.5 years.

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