CO2 levels are at an all-time high and are increasing annually at a devastating rate. Fossil based resources are depleting, and with crude oil providing the building blocks for most chemicals and commodities, switching to green energy alone will not safeguard our transport, chemical and manufacturing industries. An alternative to crude oil for carbon-based feedstocks is therefore urgently required. A means to effectively capture, store and utilise CO2 (CDU) is a critical research area internationally, and is one of the greatest scientific challenges of the 21st century.
The Toghill Group headed by Dr Kathryn Toghill at Lancaster University is established in electrochemical energy conversion and storage research. Topics of interest in the group span fundamental electrochemistry, to inorganic and organic synthesis, catalysis to analytical measurements. But at the heart of the research is sustainability and application. Find out more from the group website https://sites.google.com/view/toghillgroup.
A 1-year funded MSc position is available at Lancaster University funded through a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant to explore electrocatalytic conversion of CO2 to valuable hydrocarbon products. The PhD project will focus on synthesising and evaluating a range of potential catalysts for CO2 reduction, including bimetallic nanomaterials and novel 2D materials. It will incoporate the use of Online Electrochemical Mass Spectrometry (OLEMS) and novel flow reactors to evaluate the performance of the materials. The project will focus on optimising methods of product analysis and the structure-performance relationships of catalytic materials. Consequently, there will be scope to becoming proficient in a range of analytical and characterisation techniques including microscopy, chromatography, NMR spectroscopy and other spectroscopic methods. In addition, the project will introduce and develop chemical engineering skills involving design, modelling, manufacturing, and 3D printing of electrochemical flow reactors.
Applicants will hold, or expect to receive, a 1st class or 2:1 UK Masters-level or BSc degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, Engineering or Natural Science and possess theoretical and practical skills commensurate with the undergraduate degree programme. The successful candidate will demonstrate a strong interest in experimental physical chemistry and confidence working with spectrometers and analytical equipment, enthusiasm to work in a laboratory environment, willingness to learn, a collaborative attitude, and will possess excellent written and oral communication skills in English. An interest in design and aptitude for working with equipment is desirable.
How to apply
Kathryn welcomes informal email enquiries before submitting an application (firstname.lastname@example.org). Applications should be made via Lancaster University’s online application system (http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/how-to-apply-for-postgraduate-study/). Applications will be considered in the order that they are received, and the position may be filled when a suitable candidate has been identified ahead of the deadline. Please indicate on your application that you are applying for this funded MSc project.
About Lancaster University
The Department of Chemistry at Lancaster University provides a research environment that strongly supports the individual needs of each student and promotes a healthy work–life balance. We are committed to the Athena Swan Charter, which recognises and celebrates good employment practice undertaken to address gender equality in higher education and research. Our commitment to these principles is reflected in our recent receipt of an Athena Swan Bronze Award. The Department of Chemistry also operates an informal graduate peer-peer mentor scheme available to all students, in addition to academic/development training provided by the department and faculty of science and technology.
The studentships will cover fees at the UK Home rate plus the standard maintenance stipend. It may also partially contribute to the fees and stipend of a self-funded international candidate, though it is advised that you enquire regarding this before applying. EU citizens may also apply, though due to Brexit this situation is more complicated, therefore applicants are advised to contact Dr Kathryn Toghill before applying for more information.