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Next generation solid-state sodium electrolytes for battery and sensor applications

Department of Physics

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Prof Philip Salmon , Dr Anita Zeidler Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

This PhD project is on the development of sodium-based solid-state electrolytes for re-chargeable battery and sensor applications. The chosen materials form crystalline sodium (Na)-super ionic conductors (so-called NASICONs) with high conductivities. Sodium is chosen because it offers a lower-cost alternative to lithium: It is a thousand times more abundant, making is less susceptible to resource and supply risks. Hence, NASICONs have a key role to play in a sustainable energy economy.

The materials are prepared by the controlled crystallisation of glass, which leads to a uniform distribution of crystallites of controllable size and shape throughout the bulk material, thus optimizing the ionic conductivity. The aim of the project is to understand the fundamentals of this glass-ceramic synthesis route by following the evolution in the atomic structure. It will then be possible to design improved materials through knowledge of the structure, and how it relates to the material properties.

The structure and material properties will be investigated by combining cutting-edge neutron and x-ray scattering methods [1] with other advanced techniques that include solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). The issues to be investigated range from the essentials of crystal nucleation to the enhancement of ion mobility, and therefore span both fundamental and applied research. The atomic structure of the materials and their properties will be modelled using reverse Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics methods.

The work forms part of an emerging collaboration between Bath and the Universities of São Paulo/São Carlos (Brazil) via the Center for Research, Technology and Education in Vitreous Materials (CeRTEV). The successful candidate is expected to spend a substantial amount of the project at the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France (, a world leading centre for research using neutrons.


Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or high Upper Second Class UK Honours degree (or the equivalent qualification gained outside the UK) in a relevant subject. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous. Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement


Informal enquiries should be directed to Prof Philip Salmon, [Email Address Removed].

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form:

Please ensure that you quote the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Funding Notes

We welcome year-round applications from self-funded UK/EU/Overseas applicants who are able to secure funding to cover all costs involved with PhD training including living costs, tuition fees and bench fees.


[1] Salmon PS and Zeidler A, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 15 (2013) 15286 (DOI: 10.1039/C3CP51741A)
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