The separation of chemicals, including carbon dioxide (CO₂) removal and the production of clean water, account for 10-15% of the world’s energy consumption. They typically involve energy-intensive processes including distillation, though a transition to greener membrane-based separations could reduce energy use by 90%. Current membrane technology is underdeveloped, hence new adsorptive materials are sought.
Metal–organic frameworks are a class of highly selective porous hybrid materials which have shown promise in environmental remediation applications. Their recently discovered glass forms have displayed improved mechanical properties, the preservation of some permanent accessible porosity, and the separation of industrially relevant hydrocarbons. This ambitious project will look to build upon these discoveries, by utilising the chemical selectivity and durability of MOF glasses to form pioneering new glass membrane materials.
The project will involve the development of MOF glasses with targeted pore sizes, formed by adapting synthetic techniques used in the inorganic glass industry. The chemical, structural and adsorptive properties of the glasses will then be investigated, followed by membrane fabrication and in-depth analysis of their applied adsorptive properties.
The formation of highly porous MOF glasses will lead to a revolutionary new family of functional adsorptive materials, which couple the stability of MOF glasses with the tuneable porosity required for many adsorptive applications. This research will result in the formation of chemically tuneable and scalable separation membranes – a feature highly desired in the separations industry.
The project will be led by Dr Lauren McHugh
(https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/chemistry/staff/lauren-mchugh/) at the Department
of Chemistry, with Professor Andrew Cooper as second supervisor
(https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/chemistry/staff/andrew-cooper/). The student will
have access to state-of-the-art facilities in the Materials Innovation Factory
(https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/materials-innovation-factory) and will draw on
skills from both teams.
This ambitious and multidisciplinary project sits at the interface between chemistry, materials science, and engineering, enabling the candidate to develop a diverse skillset in areas including the targeted design and synthesis of materials, detailed structural analysis, and extensive characterisation techniques.
Applicants should hold, or expect, at least a 2.1 degree in chemistry, materials science, engineering, or a related subject.
Dr Lauren McHugh ([Email Address Removed]) and Prof. Andrew Cooper ([Email Address Removed]).
Start Date: 1st October 2023
This PhD project is funded by The Faculty of Science & Engineering at The University of Liverpool and will start on 1st October 2023.
Successful candidates who meet the University of Liverpool eligibility criteria will be awarded a Faculty of Science & Engineering studentship for 3.5 years, covering UK tuition fees and an annual tax-free stipend (e.g. £17,688 p.a. for 2022-23).
Faculty of Science & Engineering students benefit from bespoke graduate training and £5,000 for training, travel and conferences.
The Faculty of Science & Engineering is committed to equality, diversity, widening participation and inclusion. Academic qualifications are considered alongside non-academic experience. Our recruitment process considers potential with the same weighting as past experience. Students must complete a personal statement profoma and ensure this is included in their online application.
How to Apply:
All applicants must complete the personal statement proforma. This is instead of a normal personal/supporting statement/cover letter. The proforma is designed to standardise this part of the application to minimise the difference between those who are given support and those who are not. The proforma can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/ym2ycne4. More information on the application process can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/mwn5952t. When applying online, students should ensure they include the department name in the ‘Programme Applied For’ section of the online form, as well as the Faculty of Science & Engineering as the ‘studentship type’ in the finance section.