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Polyoxothiometalates: The Primordial Answer to CO2 Mitigation? (FIELDENJ1U19SF)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, May 31, 2019
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Sulfurous oceanic hydrothermal vents containing transition metals are thought to have played a key role in converting CO2 into the chemical building blocks of life.(i) Therefore, these primordial metallo-sulfur soups likely contained superb pre-biotic molecular catalysts for CO2 and other small molecule activations, of potentially great value as we battle anthropogenic climate change. In this project, we will employ solvothermal conditions inspired by the deep ocean vents to explore new polyoxothiometalates (POTMs). Such all-inorganic clusters promise a new realm of molecular inorganic materials with high photo/redox stability due to their oxo-framework,(ii),(iii) the ability to accept and transfer multiple electrons,(ii),(iii) and sulfur sites that provide substrate-binding(iv) and photo-activity.(v) Thus, new catalytic science can be expected to emerge with great potential for converting CO2 into methane, short-chain hydrocarbons and other organic feedstocks.

This PhD project involves synthesis of POTMs, their characterisation by X-ray crystallography and a range of spectroscopic techniques, and study of their electrochemical/electrocatalytic and photophysical/photocatalytic properties. Thus it will provide a very broad-based training in inorganic synthesis, molecular characterisation and physical measurement, in the excellent facilities of the interdisciplinary Energy Materials Laboratory. The successful applicant will have, or expect to obtain a first class, 2(i) or equivalent honours degree in chemistry, and a strong interest in synthetic inorganic chemistry, materials properties and catalysis. Informal enquiries can be made to Dr John Fielden (, 01603 593137).

For more information about the supervisor of this project, please visit
Start date: October 2019
Entry requirements: The standard minimum entry requirement for a first degree is 2:1

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at View Website.

A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. The amount charged annually will vary considerably depending on the nature of the project and applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.


i) W. F. Martin, F. Sousa, N. Lane, Science 2014, 344, 1092.
ii) D. L. Long, E. Burkholder, L. Cronin, Chem. Soc. Rev. 2007, 36, 105.
iii) J. Fielden, L. Cronin, Coordination Clusters, in Encyclopedia of Supramolecular Chemistry, Taylor & Francis, London, 2007, pp. 1-10.
iv) T. Spatzal, K. A. Perez, O. Einsle, J. B. Howard, D. C. Rees, Science 2014, 345, 1620.
v) 19. S. H. Lawrie, Eur. J. Inorg. Chem. 2000, 2443.

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