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Reactions in Deep Eutectic Solvents: Time-resolved studies of structure control via solvent bonding

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, April 23, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Deep eutectic solvents (DES) have recently emerged as exciting alternatives to replace toxic organic solvents with cheap, environmentally benign, bio-inspired liquids in a range of chemical processes. DES provide substantial improvements in chemical reactions, allowing, for example, formation of inorganic oxide nanomaterials at much lower temperatures, and milder synthesis conditions than standard reactions in water. In addition, DES allow air- and water-sensitive chemical reactions to proceed at room temperature under normal atmospheric conditions – a huge improvement in safety and cost. Yet, surprisingly little is understood about how DES structures and interactions with solutes facilitate such reactions and whether solvent properties such as chirality or nanophase separation can be used to affect the properties of products. This project aims to understand how solvent structures and interactions with solutes influence reactivity in DES using in situ experiments covering a range of length scales, using a variety of experimental techniques, linked with atomistic modelling.

This is a multidisciplinary project combining experimental physical chemical techniques for solvent and nanostructure characterisation with modelling and development of software tools to enable more efficient data handling for time-resolved wide-angle scattering experiments, combining this with other in situ data such as small angle scattering and NMR data to obtain information on both solvent and reactant/product evolution on molecular and mesoscales with time. The solvent structures and interactions with solutes will be probed using NMR, and wide-angle neutron scattering, and with EXAFS for inorganic species, while growth of nanoparticles and nanoscale solvent structuring by surfactants will be studied using small angle X-ray and neutron scattering. Nanoparticles and porous materials will be studied using electron microscopy, gas sorption and XRD, as well as evaluation of catalytic properties where relevant. DES will also be characterised via surface tension, viscosity, light scattering and thermal properties (DSC).

Since this is a collaborative project between the University of Bath and the ISIS Neutron Scattering Facility the student will spend part of their PhD working at the Rutherford Appleton Lab at the ISIS Spallation Source. The student will also be expected to travel to neutron and synchrotron X-ray facilities in the UK, France and possibly the USA or Australia as part of their PhD work.


Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or high Upper Second Class UK Honours degree (or the equivalent qualification gained outside the UK) in a relevant subject. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.


Informal enquiries should be directed to Prof Karen Edler,

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Chemistry:

Please ensure that you quote the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Anticipated start date: 30 September 2019.

Note: Applications may close earlier than the advertised deadline if a suitable candidate is found; therefore, early application is strongly recommended.

Funding Notes

Candidates applying for this project will be considered for a studentship funded jointly by the University of Bath and ISIS Neutron and Muon Science (STFC) View Website

The studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free maintenance allowance at the UKRI Doctoral Stipend rate (£15.009 in 2019-20) for a period of up to 4 years. There will also be a budget for research expenses and travel.

To be eligible for the studentship, applicants must be UK or EU citizens and have been resident in the UK since September 2016.


Hammond et al Green Chem. 2016, 18, 2736; Hammond et al Nat Commun 2017, 8, 14150; Hammond et al J. Mater. Chem. A 2017, 5, 16189; Hammond et al Angew. Chem. Intl. Ed. 2017, 56, 9782; Sanchez-Fernandez et al PCCP 2018, 20, 13952

How good is research at University of Bath in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 33.10

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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