A PhD studentship is available in the research group of Prof. A. I. Cooper FRS, starting in October 2020. This position will be based in the Materials Innovation Factory (MIF), a £82 M research facility that opened in 2017. The student will work in a diverse, multidisciplinary team, alongside synthetic and computational chemists, and will interact with other PhD students and postdoctoral researchers in the group.
The separation of chemical mixtures is one of the most important processes in the chemical industry. For example, feedstocks of pure ethene and propene are required for the synthesis of polyethylene and polypropylene, respectively, with more than 200 million tonnes produced annually. At present, the most common separation method is cryogenic distillation, which requires large amounts of energy for the cooling and compression of the gases. As a result, olefin purification accounts for 0.3% of the world’s total energy use.
The project will involve organic synthesis of functional motifs and materials to create new approaches to low-energy molecular separations. This may involve multiple types of material, including porous organic solids, such as molecular crystals, covalent organic frameworks, or porous polymers. The student will work develop a seamless workflow for high-throughput synthesis, crystallization (where needed) and characterization for libraries of porous solids, and will carry out detailed testing (e.g., kinetics, breakthrough measurements). Promising materials will be scaled up for more detailed testing.
Qualifications: Applications are welcomed from students with a 2:1 or higher Masters degree or equivalent in Chemistry, with strong synthetic skills and (ideally) some prior experience in the area of porous solids.