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ReNU PhD Studentship Solar-Driven Plasmonic Catalysis

School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

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Dr J Erringtron No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Number of awards:

Start date and duration:
September 2021 for 4 years.

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Renewable Energy Northeast Universities (ReNU) ( is a collaborative doctoral training programme run by the Universities of Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham. Doctoral candidates will engage with added value training opportunities for example in business, innovation and internationalisation through a 4-year training programme that has been designed to maximise the benefits of a cohort approach to doctoral training.

We are seeking a motivated, enthusiastic and talented student for a challenging interdisciplinary project in a high priority research area. This project will use molecular nanoscience to tune with atomic precision the interfaces in new binary and ternary catalysts for small molecule conversions. Research will involve the preparation of metal nanoparticles stabilised by metal-substituted polyoxometalates (POM@MNP), which will then be supported on polymeric carbon nitride (PCN). The new binary and ternary materials will be characterised by a range of techniques including multinuclear NMR, high resolution electron microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and X-ray absorption spectroscopies (EXAFS and XANES) in order to probe the nature and chemistry of the interfaces. Thermal and photocatalytic activity, e.g. for selective CO2 reduction to methanol, will be assessed and studies of ultrafast charge extraction processes at the interfaces will provide the fundamental understanding necessary to exploit metal nanoparticle photophysics in plasmonic catalysis.

The ReNU CDT will provide broad-based training and supervision by Dr. J. Errington (POM chemistry) and Dr. E. Gibson (photocatalysis/photophysics) at Newcastle University with Dr. B. Mendis (electron microscopy) at Durham University. Engagement with international participants in the EPSRC-JSPS Core-to-Core “International Network on Polyoxometalate Science for Advanced Functional Energy Materials” (INPOMS) will be encouraged.

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) -

Name of supervisor(s):
Dr. R. J. Errington, Dr. E. A. Gibson and Dr. Budhika Mendis (Durham University).

Eligibility Criteria:
Academic excellence 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
Academic excellence in an appropriate subject area relevant to proposed project.
If English is not your first language, you must have IELTS 6.5 overall (with a minimum of 5.5 in all sub-skills)
Home and International students (Inc. EU) are welcome to apply. We have a limited number of International awards available, and applicants may be required to provide additional fees not covered by the UKRI Home fee contribution. Further information will be provided at application stage.

How to apply:
You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system (

Insert the programme code 8208F in the programme of study section
Select PhD Energy Materials as the programme of study
Insert the advert reference number renu215 in the studentship/partnership reference field
Attach a covering letter and CV, quote code renu215, and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
Attach a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words and include the advert reference number.
Attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.

Funding Notes

100% of home tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of £15,285. Successful international candidates may be required to make up the difference between the home and international fees.
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