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Polar Iron Oxide Surfaces in the Real World: Leaping the Environment Gap

Department of Materials

Sunday, January 31, 2021 Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Motivated by the omnipresence of iron oxide surfaces in a wide range of important phenomena, extending from soil formation to heterogeneous catalysis, this project seeks to understand, as well as control, their macroscopic properties at the nanoscale. Attention will focus on a key subclass of these surfaces, namely so-called polar terminations of magnetite (Fe3O4), that present a fascinating fundamental conundrum, as they are stable in apparent contradiction of basic physical principles.

The primary aim of this project will be to explore the surface structure and chemistry of wet-chemically prepared single crystal Fe3O4 substrates, including Fe3O4-electrolyte interfaces. In addition, you will take the opportunity to explore the feasibility of forming MxFe3-xO4 terminated Fe3O4 substrates where some of Fe cations are replaced by other transition metals (M). There is an expectation that this latter effort will reveal novel structures and chemistries, which will be worthy of future pursuit, e.g. potential single atom catalysts.

Funding Notes

Applicants should have or expect to achieve at least a 2.1 honours degree in Materials Science, Chemistry or related subject.

This project is being considered for DTA funding. This would provide a full fee waiver and a EPSRC standard stipend. International applicants are welcome to apply but will require access to self-funding.

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