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PhD in Chemistry: Development of Ptychographic Electron Tomography to Determine the Structure of CO2 Hydrogenation Catalysts

   Cardiff School of Chemistry

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  Dr Thomas Slater, Prof G J Hutchings, Prof M Bowker  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This is an exciting collaborative project between the Cardiff Catalysis Institute and the UK’s national synchrotron (Diamond Light Source).

 In this project, the student will develop new workflows on world-leading electron microscopes, combining electron ptychography with tomography to get the full 3D atomic structure of catalytic materials. The techniques developed will be used to determine the full surface structure of a group of Pd-based catalysts for CO2 hydrogenation. Hydrogenation of CO2 is an increasingly important reaction for achieving net-zero carbon emissions, in cases where emission of CO2 cannot be avoided. The aims of this project are to use the developed electron microscope methodologies to understand the effects of catalyst preparation, and the addition of alloying elements, on the extent of the metal-support interaction and availability of particular catalyst surface sites.

The student will spend the first year of their PhD in Cardiff, where they will be trained in electron microscopy and techniques for preparing and characterising heterogeneous catalysts. The Cardiff Catalysis Institute has recently moved into a new, custom built research facility, which includes a world-leading £3 million electron microscope. The student will join a large and diverse cohort working on catalysis, joining the focused electron microscopy team.

The remaining two and a half years will be spent at the ePSIC facility at Diamond Light Source, a national facility for aberration-corrected electron microscopy. The student will join a small team who support national and international researchers in pursuing a wide range of research topics. We will ensure that the transition between the two project phases is as easy as possible and that the student is an integral part of both teams throughout their studies (i.e. will be able to join group meetings remotely).


Dr Thomas Slater - Dr Thomas Slater - People - Cardiff University

Professor Graham Hutchings - Professor Graham Hutchings - People - Cardiff University

Professor Mike Bowker - Professor Mike Bowker - People - Cardiff University

Dr Chris Allen (Diamond) - Chris Allen - - Diamond Light Source

Dr Darren Batey (Diamond) Darren Batey - - Diamond Light Source

Start date - 1st October 2023

Academic Criteria

Candidates should hold or expect to gain a first class degree or a good 2.1 and/or an appropriate Master’s level qualification (or their equivalent). 

English Language criteria

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language (IELTS 6.5 or equivalent) English language requirements for postgraduate students - Study - Cardiff University

How to apply

For more information on the research and project please contact Dr Tom Slater ([Email Address Removed]) or Dr Chris Allen ([Email Address Removed]

To apply please complete an online application, stating the project title and your supervisor’s name(s) https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/research/programmes/programme/chemistry

Funding Notes

This is a 3.5 year funded post and covers UK tuition fees, an annual tax-free living stipend of in line with UKRI minimum rates (currently £17,668).
This studentship is open to Home, EU or Overseas Candidates. However, Overseas and EU candidates should note that they will be required to cover the difference between Home and Overseas/EU fees each year.


Cardiff University is committed to supporting and promoting equality and diversity and to creating an inclusive environment for all. We welcome applications from all members of the global community irrespective of age, disability, sex, gender identity, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation.

How good is research at Cardiff University in Chemistry?

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

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