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PhD Studentship in Chemistry – Exploration of Ionic Conduction in Palmierites

   School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

   Saturday, October 15, 2022  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project


Ensuring reliable, clean energy sources is one of the greatest challenges facing society today. Hydrogen fuel cells offer a real solution: the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen produces water and electricity, providing a clean alternative to fossil fuels. Ceramic fuel cells are highly efficient and do not require ultra-pure hydrogen or expensive electrodes. An important ambition is to lower the running temperature of ceramic fuel cells to £ 600 °C as this will reduce costs and increase reliability and lifetime. To reach this important goal, further fundamental research is urgently needed to discover new oxide ion/proton conductors with high conductivity at temperatures £ 600 °C to be used as the electrolyte in the cell. In this regard, we have been investigating a family of chemical compounds known as palmierites and have shown for the first time that the palmierite compound Sr3V2O8 presents significant oxide ion and proton conductivity. This is an exciting new direction in solid-state chemistry research.

We have a PhD studentship available to further investigate ionically conducting palmierites which is fully funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

The studentship will be based at Chemistry in the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences at Newcastle University with Dr James A Dawson. The successful candidate will use state-of-the-art atomistic modelling techniques (molecular dynamics and density functional theory) on a range of different palmierite materials and their interfaces to rationalise empirical structure-property relationships and enable future materials design.

The student will also work closely with Professor Abbie McLaughlin and her team at the University of Aberdeen, who will be focusing on the synthesis of palmierite metal oxides which exhibit high oxide ion conductivity at intermediate temperatures (< 600 °C).

There will also be the opportunity to attend national and international conferences and training courses.

Number Of Awards


Start Date

September 2022 or January 2023.

Award Duration

3 years.


Leverhulme Trust


Dr James A Dawson (Chemistry, Newcastle) and Professor Abbie McLaughlin (Chemistry, Aberdeen).

Eligibility Criteria

You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honours degree or international equivalent, in chemistry, materials science, physics or a related subject.

The award is available to applicants with a Home fee status applicants only.

How To Apply

For the Newcastle position, you must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system.

You will need to:

·        Insert the programme code 8100F in the programme of study section

·        Select PhD Chemistry (full time) as the programme of study

·        Insert the studentship code SNES230 in the studentship/partnership reference field

·        Attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code SNES230 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project

·        Attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.

Funding Notes

100% of home tuition fees paid plus an annual stipend of £16,062.

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