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NMR-Driven Design of Ion Transporting Materials

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, March 20, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Applications are invited for a graduate to join the Department of Chemistry, University of Liverpool, UK for a 36-month Graduate Teaching Assistant PhD studentship.
This PhD position will explore new inorganic ceramics that are designed to display fast ionic transport properties directed towards energy applications. The targeted materials will be guided by computational materials design and have anticipated three dimensional diffusion pathways, initially based on existing interstitial ions or vacancy doping in promising oxides-based conductors, aiming at focusing on structure-property function relationships. To deliver this vision, the main focus of the work will be to harness the capabilities of solid-state NMR spectroscopy to understand atomic scale diffusion processes by probing dynamics over a wide range of timescales (ie from nanoseconds to seconds) and with various approaches (eg variable temperature, exchange, correlation times) in a semi-automatic way, informing the macroscopic diffusion properties and realizing materials design of fast ionic conductors. Using this studentship, we will build upon our initial findings in Li, Na and O ion conductors and developing collaborative work with synthetic solid-state chemistry to expand beyond pure ionic conductors by also targeting mixed ionic and electronic conducting materials.

The project is mostly focused on exploiting solid-state NMR spectroscopy approaches and will likely involve some computational modelling, diffraction and fast ion conductors synthesis. This studentship will allow a highly motivated candidate to participate in the development of fast ion transporting materials and have a unique research profile across materials chemistry and NMR spectroscopy. The successful candidate will (1) have access to laboratory space needed for any synthesis activity and measurements, (2) be able to perform experiments in state-of-the-art facilities (eg Liverpool unique solid-state NMR infrastructure in high resolution high temperature data collection) and develop automated approaches, (3) have a wide range of opportunities to travel and access world-leading large scale research facilities (eg ultra-high field and ultra-high temperature NMR instrumentation elsewhere in the UK and overseas) and (4) be able to expand his/her research vision and interest by attending international conferences.

The student will be part of the Leverhulme Research Centre for Functional Materials Design ( and will be based in both the Department of Chemistry and newly-opened Materials Innovation Factory (MIF) at the University of Liverpool. The Department of Chemistry ( is an international centre of excellence for the chemistry of advanced materials. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework assessment of all academic research activity in the UK, the Department of Chemistry was ranked second in Chemistry in the UK and first for published outputs. In addition to the quality of the research and its international recognition, this assessment also affirms the leading research environment in Liverpool (including the facilities referred to above) and the strong research income performance. The MIF (, funded via the UK Research Partnerships and Investment Fund (UK RPIF), is a flagship strategic initiative focussing initially on £68m collaboration between the University of Liverpool and Unilever Plc. The joint aim is to develop the leading materials chemistry research hub in the UK for use by universities and industry. This facility is unique in Europe and will greatly reduce new product and knowledge discovery times to help support the UK’s international competitiveness.

The successful candidate should have, or expect to have, at least a 2:1 degree or equivalent in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science or closely related subject. The candidate should be highly motivated, curious, have competent English communication skills, computer skills and be able to work both as part of a team and independently. Project experience in NMR spectroscopy would be an advantage, but is not a prerequisite.

The PhD position is available immediately and this position will close when a suitable candidate is found.

Applications should include a cover letter including the applicant motivation in this PhD studentship and a statement on teaching interests and commitment, a full CV, and the contact details of two academic referees and should be sent by email to Dr. Frédéric Blanc () indicating “NMR PhD studentship - LRC” in the subject line.

Funding Notes

The award is primarily available to students in the UK/EU and will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3 years (£15,009 pa in 2019/2020). Non-EU nationals are not eligible for this position and applications from non-EU candidates will not be considered unless you have your own funding to cover the difference between EU and non-EU fees (£22,000 for 2019/2020). The studentship includes commitments and contractual obligations to work (up to 88 hours per academic year) to help with teaching-related activities in modules currently taught at the Department of Chemistry, as assigned by the Head of Department.

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