This project will develop novel complexes of sustainable main group metals (Mg, Ca and Al) that through cooperation between the metal and its supporting ligand can mediate industrially and synthetically important catalytic transformations.
The efficiency afforded by catalytic reactions means catalysis will play a central role as society seeks to make a transition to a sustainable chemical infrastructure. Homogeneous catalysis is typically based on precious metals (Pd, Pt, Rh, Ir) that possess an accessible n/n+2 redox couple which permits the bond cleavage (oxidative addition) and bond forming (reductive elimination) components of a catalytic cycle. Sustainable, benign, and cheap elements (Mg, Ca or Al) are limited in their catalytic application as they do not possess an accessible n/n+2 redox couple and a different approach to catalysis is required. This project is focused on the development of new catalysts based on main group metals (Mg, Ca and Al) that are capable of directly activating H-X bonds (X = H, NR2 or SiR3) without a change in metal oxidation state and utilising this capability in homogeneous catalysis. Cooperation between a main group metal centre and its supporting ligand for bond activation and catalysis is particularly rare and represents an exciting opportunity to establish new catalytic reactivity for these cheap and sustainable metals.
The successful candidate will receive training in a range of techniques applicable to synthetic chemistry including the manipulation of air and moisture sensitive compounds, multinuclear NMR, mass spectrometry and X-ray diffraction. In addition to developing practical skills the student will also develop excellent reasoning and presentation skills.
Entry requirements: Applicants must hold a First Class or Upper Second Class (2:1) Degree in Chemistry. The ideal candidate will have a passion for synthetic and catalytic chemistry and possess excellent written and oral communication skills. Experience in the manipulation of air/moisture sensitive chemicals is not essential but highly desirable. If English is not your first language, you will be required to have an IELTS Academic of 6.5 or above (or equivalent), with no sub-test score below 6.
How to apply: Applications can be made through the Chemistry PhD programme page (https://www.surrey.ac.uk/postgraduate/chemistry-phd) at the University of Surrey. Please state the project title and supervisor clearly on all applications and attach a copy of your CV.
The studentship will cover University fees and a student stipend consistent with the research council rates for 2019-2020. Funding is provided for the full duration (3 years) of the PhD.