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Molecular Assembly in Porous Liquids

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 31, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Porous materials have a wide variety of applications, such as gas uptake, catalysis, separations, and energy storage. These materials are typically solids, but recently, we have shown it’s possible to form liquids with permanent intrinsic porosity. These porous liquids are unique, combining the mobility of a liquid with the properties of a porous solid, meaning they could have unique applications and the potential to transform the porous materials field. Porous liquids fundamentally differ to conventional liquids in that they contain permanent, empty, accessible cavities. By engineering ‘intrinsic’ porosity into a liquid; that is, by incorporating permanent shape-persistent cavities within the molecules that make up the liquid, over the inherent ‘extrinsic’ porosity seen in all liquids, it is possible to form a porous liquid. Three types were initially proposed in 2007, but it was only from 2015 onwards that the first porous liquids were reported which provided proof-of-concept that permanent porosity in liquids was achievable, and that they have the potential to demonstrate gas uptake and size-selectivity of liquid guests. As such, the potential that this field has to transform the landscape of porous materials remains almost totally unexplored.
The aim of the project is to investigate molecular assembly in porous liquids, which have the capability to exhibit two different types: the assembly between the species that constitute the liquid, and the interactions between the species containing the empty host cavity with potential guests. As such, it will involve activities such as the design, synthesis, and characterisation, of new porous liquids, followed by investigating their use in new applications by studying their guest-host behaviour and optical properties. This project provides an exciting opportunity to work on a brand new area of materials chemistry, and to receive training in the synthesis, characterisation and measurement of sorption properties of porous materials.

The project is funded for 3.5 years, and applications are encouraged from highly motivated candidates who have, or expect to have, at least a 2:1 degree or equivalent in Chemistry or related disciplines (e.g. Materials Science). A background in one of the following is desirable, but not essential: organic synthesis, supramolecular chemistry (including mechanically interlocked molecules or guest-host behaviour), functional organic materials, porous materials, and/or liquid crystals.

Applications should be made as soon as possible but no later than 31st January 2020. Informal enquiries are also encouraged and should be addressed to Dr Rebecca Greenaway ().
Some teaching duties may be required.

To apply please visit: and click the ’Apply online’ button

Funding Notes

The award will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years (currently £14,777 p.a.) and it is anticipated that the successful candidate will start in October 2020. Applications from candidates meeting the eligibility requirements of the EPSRC are welcome – please refer to the EPSRC website: View Website


1. Liquids with Permanent Porosity, N. Giri, M. D. Pópolo, G. Melaugh, R. L. Greenaway, K. Rätzke, T. Koschine, M. F. Costa Gomes, L. Pison, A. I. Cooper and S. L. James, Nature, 2015, 527, 216.
2. Understanding Gas Capacity, Guest Selectivity and Diffusion in Porous Liquids, R. L. Greenaway, D. Holden, E. G. B. Eden, A. Stephenson, C. Yong, M. J. Bennison, T. Hasell, M. E. Briggs, S. L. James and A. I. Cooper, Chem. Sci., 2017, 8, 2640.
3. Accelerated Robotic Discovery of Type II Porous Liquids, R. Kearsey, B. M. Alston, M. E. Briggs, R. L. Greenaway and A. I. Cooper, Chem. Sci., 2019, 10, 9454.

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