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PhD studentship in photoelectrocatalysis for renewable energy

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  • Full or part time
    Dr J Tang
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship in the area of photoelectrocatalysis and ammonia synthesis. The successful candidate will work in the dynamic group of Solar Energy and Advanced Materials in the Department of Chemical Engineering at UCL.


Ammonia (NH3) is the most important commodity chemicals and can also be an idea energy source. Reduction of nitrogen is the only pathway for NH3 synthesis. Nevertheless, due to the highly stable N≡N triple bond of N2 molecule, industrial NH3 synthesis has to be carried out via the Haber-Bosch process by a reaction between N2 and H2 at high temperature and pressure (typically 400 °C and 200 atm), which accounts for more than 1% of the global total energy consumption, also emitting substantial CO2. The project will develop a future technology for ammonia synthesis driven by renewable solar energy, a neutral-carbon and energy-efficient process operated under ambient condition.

The successful candidate will work in the domain of photo-catalysis in a multidisciplinary project, in collaboration with researchers in Materials and Chemistry at Imperial College and UCL. The major tasks include discovery of efficient photoelectrodes/photocatalysts working under ambient condition for H2 fuel production from water and then storage H2 in ammonia, thus achieving NH3 synthesis from water and N2 gas. The candidate will also learn materials characterisation and fundamental understanding of the photoelectron-catalysis by state of the art spectroscopies (eg. time resolved and intensity modulated spectroscopies).


1. Fabrication and characterisation of photoelectrodes

2. Assessment of these photoelectrodes for water splitting for H2 production and H2 storage in chemical (ammonia synthesis)

3. Understanding of the fundamentals of photoelectrocatalysis

4. Draft scientific papers and present in international conferences.


The person appointed will have the essential skills, abilities, personal attributes and experience listed below. In your application, you should demonstrate how you meet the person specification, using examples.

Knowledge – including Qualifications

Essential: The candidate should have, or expect to obtain, an upper second-class or first-class honours degree (or equivalent) in chemistry/materials science

Desirable: A master degree in catalysis


Essential: Inorganic materials synthesis and characterisation

Desirable: paper writing, spectroscopies


Essential: materials synthesis

Desirable: Presentation in local meetings or international conferences

Personal Qualities

Essential: open-minded, diligent and enthusiastic

Desirable: critical thinking and leadership

Other requirements

Essential: comply with university and local safety requirement

The eligible candidates should have a degree in either Chemistry or Materials Science. A Master degree in catalysis is preferable.

The successful candidate is expected to start in Oct 2020.

For an informal discussion of this position please contact Professor Junwang Tang: [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

£17,432 + UK/EU fees (overseas students may also apply).

Please apply here:

The applicants have to fill the online application form by clicking the “view website “ and then select department of chemical engineering, you will see the programme code of PRDCENSING01, which is the programme to be applied to.

The phd studentship is for UK/EU students. Anyone from outside of the EU has to find other funding to cover the difference between an international candidate and a EU candidate (about £23k/a).

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