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Operando X-ray studies of gas evolving and consuming electrocatalysts

  • Full or part time
    Prof A Russell
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, April 20, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Supervisor: Prof. Andrea Russell

Project description

The electrification of energy supply and chemical synthesis requires greater understanding of the structure and activity relationships of the electrocatalysts employed and their characterisation under operando conditions. In this project you will be working in collaboration with scientists at the University of Southampton, Diamond Light Source, and the Johnson Matthey Technology Centre to develop electrochemical cells that enable X-ray absorption spectroscopic and X-ray diffraction data to be collected under operating conditions for electrocatalysts that either evolve (electrolysers) or consume (electrosynthesis) gases.

You will spend time working at each location, 18 months at the University of Southampton, 6 months at the Johnson Matthey Technology Centre, and 12 months at the Diamond Light Source, with the final 6 months at Diamond or Southampton. You will benefit from access to world-class facilities available in each laboratory. At the University of Southampton, you will be supervised by Prof. Andrea Russell, an expert in operando characterisation of electrocatalysts. At Diamond your supervisor will be Dr. Veronica Celorrio, a station scientist on the B18 core EXAFS beamline, who is an experienced electrochemist and X-ray spectroscopist. At Johnson Matthey your supervisor will be Dr. Chris Zalitis, an experienced electrochemist, with particular expertise in electrocatalysis.

The project will involve design of electrochemical cells to enable study of the structure of the electrocatalysts under working conditions, the collection of X-ray data at the Diamond Light Source, and electrochemical testing at the University of Southampton and the Johnson Matthey Technology Centre.

The ideal candidate will have a first or upper second-class degree in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering with a real interest in spectroscopy and electrochemistry and possesses excellent communication and organisation skills as well as being self-motivated.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Prof. Andrea Russell, Electrochemistry Research Group, Email:

Entry Requirements
A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent) in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science, or Physics.

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 20 April 2020 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: full tuition for EU/UK Students plus, for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £17,009 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years.

How To Apply

Applications should be made online here selecting “PhD Chemistry (Full time)” as the programme. Please enter Electrochemistry under the Topic or Field of Research and list Prof. Andrea Russell as your proposed supervisor.

Applications should include:
Curriculum Vitae
Two reference letters
Degree Transcripts to date
Apply online:

For further information please contact:

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is central to the ethos in Chemistry. In recognition of our continued commitment to improving equality for women in science we were awarded an Athena SWAN Silver award in 2014 a and a second Silver award in 2017. Chemistry gives full consideration to applicants that wish to work flexibly including part-time and due consideration will be given to applicants who have taken a career break. The University has a generous maternity policy*, onsite childcare facilities. For further information please visit

How good is research at University of Southampton in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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