PhD in Chemistry - Taking Crystal Sponges into the Nanoscale Using 3D Electron Diffraction

   College of Science and Engineering

   Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Bright, highly motivated candidates are invited to apply for a fully funded 3.5 year PhD position in the School of Chemistry, available to commence on 1st October 2024 in the Forgan research group at the University of Glasgow, which will focus on the use of electron diffraction to characterize metal-organic frameworks and probe new applications such as the nanoscale crystal sponge technique.

The crystal sponge method allows determination of the crystal structures of non-crystalline molecules, by adsorbing them in a porous host crystal and concurrently determining the structures of both the host – the crystal sponge – and the desired analyte. Initially developed for single crystal X-ray diffraction, the method has stalled due to various challenges involving sponge crystallisation, sponge stability, analyte loading, highly challenging data processing, and poor reproducibility. To circumvent these issues, this project will use electron diffraction, which allows single nanocrystal (~100 nm) structure determination to overhaul the crystal sponge method. Electron diffraction – to which the student will have priority access thanks to a recent EPSRC award – will facilitate the targeted discovery of new sponges, expand the scope of compatible analytes, optimise and simplify sample handling and analyte loading, improve data quality and reproducibility, examine the selectivity of sponge-analyte binding, and enable high throughput analytical techniques. The candidate will work with academic and industrial partners, including the National Crystallography Service (NCS), to rejuvenate the crystal sponge technique and help build the UKs nascent electron diffraction capacity.

The ideal candidate will hold (or expect to hold) a 1st or upper 2nd class MSc / MChem / BSc or equivalent, and have experience of inorganic synthesis, organic synthesis and crystallographic analysis. The student can expect to become an expert in the design, synthesis and analysis of porous materials, through hands on experience of solid-state synthesis, crystallographic techniques, NMR spectroscopy and gas uptake measurement. The research lies at the crossroads of supramolecular chemistry, inorganic chemistry and synthetic chemistry, and the multidisciplinary nature of the work will require a student capable of administering international collaborations.

Prospective candidates may contact Prof Forgan for information by email – – with a CV and cover letter, for informal enquiries.

How to Apply: Please refer to the following website for details on how to apply:

Chemistry (6)

Funding Notes

Funding is available to cover tuition fees at the home rate for 3.5 years, as well as paying a stipend at the Research Council rate (estimated £19,162 for Session 2024-25 and rising each year in line with UKRI levels).
Exceptional international students will be considered for an international tuition fee waiver

Register your interest for this project

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