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PhD in Chemistry - Beyond the age of oxides; new materials for safe and sustainable solid-state batteries.


College of Science and Engineering

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Prof D H Gregory No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Recent safety issues in applications from cell phones to airliners highlight the potential hazards associated with liquid electrolytes in high voltage Li-ion batteries. Such dangers could be avoided if a solid electrolyte alternative could be found that combined stability (both chemical and thermal) with high Li-ion conductivity and a wide potential operating window. Halides and hydrides are extremely attractive contenders for this role, with the unique feature that the non-oxide anions can promote the transport of Li-cations synergically. Moreover, their outstanding (electro)chemical stability paves the way for cells in excess of 5V and the use of novel, higher activity anodes, such as electrides.

This project involves the design of new materials containing non-oxide polyanions (e.g. borohydride, boranes, complex halides) in which rotating/“tumbling” anions interact symbiotically with the highly mobile cations within prescribed Li-ion diffusion pathways. Our ambition is to exploit these interactions (modelled by both experiment and theory) to control the mobility of the Li-ions as a function of the polarisability and density of the anion sublattice (determining all aspects of the free movement of the Li-ions). These concepts will then be translated to novel solid state battery chemistries in which Li+ is replaced by Na+ or Mg2+ as the mobile cation. The aim of this approach is to migrate to more sustainable battery architectures based on cheaper, more Earth-abundant metals, without sacrificing performance.

One of the aims of the project will be to discover new materials that will be synthesised by sustainable, energy-efficient methods. A tranche of techniques will be employed to characterise these materials including diffraction and spectroscopy methods (both in the lab and at national facilities) and imaging techniques such as electron microscopy and tomography. The conductivity, electrochemical, thermal and mechanical properties of potential electrolytes will be determined before they are extensively tested in rechargeable cells. The project will also exploit a number of successful collaborations with world-leading research groups in the UK and internationally.

It is the University of Glasgow’s mission to foster an inclusive climate, which ensures equality in our working, learning, research and teaching environment.

We strongly endorse the principles of Athena SWAN, including a supportive and  flexible working environment, with commitment from all levels of the organisation in promoting gender equality.

As an Athena SWAN Bronze Award holder, the School of Chemistry has equality, diversity and inclusion at its heart, and actively supports applications from all sections of society.

More details of the School’s Athena SWAN activities can be found here: https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/chemistry/abouttheschool/athenaswan/

How to Apply: Please refer to the following website for details on how to apply: http://www.gla.ac.uk/research/opportunities/howtoapplyforaresearchdegree/.


Funding Notes

Applicants must have, or be expected to graduate in 2021 with, a degree in Chemistry, Materials Science, Physics or a related discipline at 2:1 or better.
Funding is available to cover tuition fees for UK/EU applicants for 3.5 years, as well as paying a stipend at the Research Council rate (estimated £15,285 for Session 2019-20).
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