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Probing Actinide-Actinide Bonding

   Department of Chemistry

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  Prof S Liddle, Dr M Baker  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

A fully funded EPSRC DTG studentship is available for a highly motivated, outstanding graduate chemist to undertake in the field of f-element synthesis, structural, spectroscopic, and computational characterisation.

 A central aim of actinide science is to better quantify the chemical bonding of actinide complexes by delivering key bonding motifs that have been long known for the transition metals in order to draw out comparisons. One way to do this is the study of metal-metal bonds; these have been known for decades with transition metals, but had always proven elusive for actinides. 

 Previously (1), we reported actinide-actinide bonding in a trithorium cluster, which exhibits unexpected sigma-aromatic bonding at its heart. This contrasts to traditional d-block metal-metal bonding, and thus opens up a new field of research.

 In this project, you will prepare a range of precursor complexes, then investigate their reduction to form actinide-actinide bonds. A key facet of this work will be interleaving the synthetic work with a range of experimental and computational characterisation methods, to meet our overall goal of building our understanding of actinide bonding.

You will receive training in: Schlenk line chemistry; routine use of glove boxes; inorganic and organic synthesis; single crystal X-ray diffraction; NMR, UV/Vis/NIR, IR, Raman, and EPR spectroscopies; SQUID magnetometry; cyclic voltammetry; XAS/RIXS techniques; computational techniques. Scientific writing, business engagement, and other scientific skills and training along with appropriate safety training will also be given. For recent examples of our holistic approach to synthesising and characterising novel compounds see references 1-5.

Applicants are expected to hold, or be about to obtain, a minimum upper second class undergraduate degree (or overseas equivalent) in Chemistry. A Masters degree in a relevant subject and/or experience in Schlenk and glove box handling of air sensitive materials, synthetic inorganic chemistry, synthetic organic chemistry, or NMR spectroscopy is desirable, although training will also be provided.

 You will benefit from interdisciplinary collaborative links to local, national, and international collaborations, including national research facilities.

 Fees can only be covered directly for home (UK) students. However we encourage applications from competitive EU and International candidates since fees associated with EU and International students may be covered by separate funding routes. 

How to apply:

Name of academic, email address, web-site etc

Prof. Steve Liddle

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact. We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status.

 We also support applications from those returning from a career break or other roles. We consider offering flexible study arrangements (including part-time: 50%, 60% or 80%, depending on the project/funder). 

Funding Notes

This is a 3.5 year EPSRC DTG studentship. Funding will cover UK tuition fee and stipend only. The University of Manchester aims to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK. We are able to offer a limited number of scholarships that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.
Start date: September 2023


(1) J. T. Boronski, J. A. Seed, D. Hunger, A. W. Woodward, J. van Slageren, A. J. Wooles, L. S. Natrajan, N. Kaltsoyannis, S. T. Liddle, Nature 2021, 598, 72-75.
(2) M. S. Dutkiewicz, C. A. P. Goodwin, M. Perfetti, A. J. Gaunt, J. -C. Griveau, E. Colineau, A. Kovács, A. J. Wooles, R. Caciuffo, O. Walter, S. T. Liddle, Nat. Chem. 2022, 14, 342-349.
(3) J. Du, J. A. Seed, V. E. J. Berryman, N. Kaltsoyannis, R. W. Adams, D. Lee, S. T. Liddle, Nat. Commun. 2021, 12, article number 5649.
(4) J. Du, I. Douair, E. Lu, J. A. Seed, F. Tuna, A. J. Wooles, L. Maron, S. T. Liddle, Nat. Commun. 2021, 12, article number 4832.
(5) J. A. Seed, L. Birnoschi, E. Lu, F. Tuna, A. J. Wooles, N. F. Chilton, S. T. Liddle, Chem 2021, 7, 1666-1680.

How good is research at The University of Manchester in Chemistry?

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