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Molecular Engineering of Interfaces for Catalytic Small Molecule Conversion. (Ref: Renu20-13)

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

Project Description

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Renewable Energy Northeast Universities (ReNU) is a collaborative doctoral training programme run by the Universities of Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham. In addition to undertaking an individual scientific research project at one of the three partner Universities, doctoral candidates will engage with added value training opportunities, for example in business, innovation and internationalisation through a 4-year training programme that has been designed to maximise the benefits of a cohort approach to doctoral training. The start date is 1st October 2020.

We are seeking a motivated, enthusiastic and talented student for a challenging interdisciplinary project in a high priority research area. This project will use molecular nanoscience to tune with atomic precision the interfaces in new binary and ternary catalysts for small molecule conversions. Research will involve the preparation of metal nanoparticles stabilised by metal-substituted polyoxometalates ([email protected]), which will then be supported on polymeric carbon nitride (PCN). The new binary and ternary materials will be characterised by a range of techniques including multinuclear NMR, high resolution electron microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and X-ray absorption spectroscopies (EXAFS and XANES) in order to probe the nature and chemistry of the interfaces. Thermal and photocatalytic activity, e.g. for selective CO2 reduction to methanol, will be assessed and studies of ultrafast charge extraction processes at the interfaces will provide the fundamental understanding necessary to exploit metal nanoparticle photophysics in plasmonic catalysis.

The ReNU CDT will provide broad-based training and supervision by Dr. J. Errington (POM chemistry) and Dr. E. Gibson (photocatalysis/photophysics) at Newcastle University with Dr. B. Mendis (electron microscopy) at Durham University. Engagement with international participants in the EPSRC-JSPS Core-to-Core “International Network on Polyoxometalate Science for Advanced Functional Energy Materials” (INPOMS) will be encouraged.

For enquiries about the project, please contact Dr Errington at .

How to apply:
Applicant should include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words and include the advert reference number.

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system at You will need to:
• Insert the programme code 8208F in the programme of study section
• Select PhD Energy Materials as the programme of study
• Insert the advert reference number (e.g. renu20-02) in the studentship/partnership reference field
• Attach a covering letter and CV, quote code (e.g. renu20-02), and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
• Attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 1st Class (Hons) or 2:1; or a Masters (preference for Merit or above) in an appropriate subject area.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Newcastle University of elsewhere.

Funding Notes

The studentship covers full Home fees and an annual stipend at UKRI rates (for 2019/20, this was £15,009 pa). Also significant additional funding to cover research costs and local, national and international travel (conferences and exchanges).

Please note that the scholarship award is set at the Home/EU level of fees. Depending on how you meet the EPSRC’s eligibility criteria, you may be entitled to a full or a partial award. Note that up to 4 offers of a PhD place will be made for the ReNU CDT projects advertised by Newcastle University.

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