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PhD Studentship - Designing Heterogeneous Catalysts for Direct CO2 Utilisation in Sustainable Polymer Manufacture

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, July 01, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

PhD Supervisor: Professor Robert Raja
Co-supervisors: Dr Lindsay-Marie Armstrong
Industrial support: Dr Liling Zhang and Dr Jia Zhang (Institute for High Performance Computing, ASTAR, Singapore)

Note: Applications will be considered in the order that they are received and the position will be considered filled when a suitable candidate has been identified

Project Description: We are seeking an enthusiastic and motivated postgraduate applicant who will contribute to this multidisciplinary research proposal, aimed at designing heterogeneous catalysts for the direct conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) to polymers (polycarbonates). CO2 storage and its subsequent utilisation in bulk polymer applications such as polycarbonates, could add value to carbon sequestration and utilisation, thereby facilitating a 30-50% reduction in petrochemical raw materials. The applicant will join a vibrant and well-established research group of Professor Robert Raja at the University of Southampton ( who are interested in the discovery and design of novel catalytic materials that address fundamental challenges in the chemical, environmental and energy landscape. During this project, we will investigate the design of hybrid catalysts that are capable of activating CO2, with a view to gaining a deeper understanding of the mechanistic features based on operando spectroscopic studies. In partnership with the School of Engineering at Southampton, we will build suitable kinetic and thermodynamic models for integrating the catalytic mechanisms, based on the experimental and theoretical observations. The catalytic findings developed during this project will be complemented with Grand Canonical Monte Carlo (GCMC) and Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations to enable structure-property correlations to be established. The predictive design rationale developed in Professor Raja’s Group will be harmonised with computational modelling studies at the Institute for High Performance Computing, A*STAR, Singapore ( The student will be supervised by world-leading academics at Southampton, who have an established track record in the field, and will greatly benefit from working at the Institute for High Performance Computing (IHPC), which spearheads scientific advances and technological innovations through computational modelling and simulation. The University of Southampton and A*STAR Singapore have since April 2010 established a partnership program to create a platform for fostering research and development opportunities, with a view to promoting high-quality research under the A*STAR research attachment program.

Funding Notes

The project is funded for 4 years and welcomes applicants from the UK and EU who have or expect to obtain at least an upper second-class (2:1) degree in Chemistry or allied subjects/relevant disciplines. Funding will cover fees and a stipend at current research council rates (201819) of £ 14,777 per annum. The student will be expected to spend 2 years at the Institute for High Performance Computing, A*STAR Singapore, as this is a joint collaborative project.

Due to funding restrictions, this position is only open to UK/EU applicants.


Applications for a PhD in Chemistry should be submitted online at

Please ensure you select the academic session 2019-2020 in the academic year field and click on the Research radio button. Enter Chemistry in the search text field.

Please place Professor Robert Raja in the field for proposed supervisor/project

General enquiries should be made to [email protected] Any queries on the application process should be made to [email protected]

Interviews are likely to be held between 15/07/2019 and 30/07/2019.

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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