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Anglia Ruskin University ARU Featured PhD Programmes
Anglia Ruskin University ARU Featured PhD Programmes

New sensors for studying chemistry of free radicals in the atmosphere

Department of Chemistry

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Dr V Chechik No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
York United Kingdom Analytical Chemistry Environmental Chemistry Organic Chemistry Physical Chemistry

About the Project

This PhD project is part of a research programme funded by the European Commission. The main aim of the programme is to develop chemically-modified electrical sensors for atmospherically-relevant free radicals. Our team involves several European academic and industrial partners with complementary expertise covering a range of areas from free radical chemistry, atmospheric chemistry and material science to computational chemistry/physics and electrical engineering. The main York contribution to the research programme is design and synthesis of organic radical sensor molecules, understanding their reactivity and selectivity in free radical reactions.

The PhD project is very interdisciplinary and is best described as mechanistic chemistry. It will involve studying free radical reactions in the gas phase relevant to atmospheric chemistry. Radical reactions are extremely important for “self-cleaning” of our atmosphere as they provide the main route for destruction of pollutants (e.g., volatile organic compounds). Radical reactions play a key role in controlling ozone concentration which has a strong impact on our climate. However monitoring radical reactions is a very challenging task as most radical intermediates are extremely reactive and have a very short lifetime.

In this project, we will use a variety of techniques to detect free radicals in the gas phase. We have long-standing expertise in monitoring trapped free radicals by EPR spectroscopy and this will be one of the methods in this project. We have recently developed a new method for studying trapped free radicals using mass spectrometry, which will be very useful for this project. The results of our studies will be used to benchmark electrical sensors produced by our European collaborators.

The methods for generation of free radicals in the gas phase will include photolysis, thermolysis and atmospheric plasma (in collaboration with colleagues from the Physics Department). These are all well-established in our labs. We will investigate reactions of hydroxyl radicals with model organic compounds such as alkanes, alkenes, ethers etc.

You will be working alongside a postdoc who will start on a related project in February 2021. Due to the interdisciplinarity of the project, there will be plenty of opportunities to be trained in analytical techniques such as MS (and LC-MS), EPR, operation of atmospheric plasma and UV sources, chemistry of free radicals, mechanistic chemistry and kinetic modelling, atmospheric chemistry.

The project will involve a close collaboration with European colleagues.

All Chemistry research students have access to our innovative Doctoral Training in Chemistry (iDTC): cohort-based training to support the development of scientific, transferable and employability skills: 

The Department of Chemistry holds an Athena SWAN Gold Award and is committed to supporting equality and diversity for all staff and students. The Department strives to provide a working environment which allows all staff and students to contribute fully, to flourish, and to excel:

You should hold or expect to achieve the equivalent of at least a UK upper second class degree in Chemistry or a related subject.  Please check the entry requirements for your country:

For more information about the project, click on the supervisor's name above to email the supervisor. For more information about the application process or funding, please click on email institution

This PhD will start on 1 July 2021.

Funding Notes

Funding is provided by the European Union. Appointed candidates will be fully-funded for 3 years. The funding includes:
 Tax-free annual “UKRI level” stipend (£15,285 full time for 2020/21)
 'Home' level tuition fees (£4,407 for 2020/21):
 Research support and training charges
Funding is available to a UK or EU student to start the project by 1 July 2021.
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