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Serial Crystallography for Materials Science: A New Route to Structural Characterisation of MOFs and other Microcrystalline Materials

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, March 06, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Detailed structural characterisation by X-ray diffraction underpins the materials chemistry. Accurate structure is a foundation for understanding properties and developing applications. The most accurate method of structure determination is single-crystal X-ray diffraction, which provides an atomic-level structure description. For many interesting materials, however, single-crystal diffraction is not possible presently because large enough crystals cannot be prepared. This limits access to accurate structural characterisation.

The PhD project is a collaboration between University of Sheffield and Diamond Light Source, an internationally leading facility for synchrotron X-ray diffraction. The project will harness a new technique known as serial crystallography, which is being developed in macromolecular crystallography (MX), for application in materials science, enabling accurate structural characterisation of important classes of materials using much smaller crystals than are commonly used. The project will involve collaboration across three beamlines at Diamond Light Source and will extend the serial crystallography approach by developing environmental sample cells to conduct studies under different gas or vapour atmospheres, enabling applications involving adsorption and reaction of the crystalline materials with gases, including catalysis, to be studied in situ and provide the structural detail available via single-crystal diffraction. We expect that these developments will represent a major step forward and provide a platform for the further development of chemical and materials crystallography.

The project will focus principally on metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), which are periodic and porous at the molecular scale, and one of the most extensively studied classes of materials worldwide. Their modular construction enables extensive chemical and spatial tuning of their structures and their pore spaces, providing a means to optimise performance in applications including gas storage, separations, catalysis, environmental remediation and drug delivery. Being crystalline materials, diffraction is their primary means of characterisation, and detailed structural analysis is essential for developing properties and applications. Unfortunately, many of the most desirable classes of MOFs have so far proven difficult and in some cases not possible to prepare crystals large enough for single crystal X-ray diffraction. Serial crystallography provides the means to overcome this problem.

The project will enable the student to become experienced in synthesis of MOFs and be at the forefront of their characterisation and that of other materials by serial crystallography. The project will also engage with other collaborators who are involved in materials synthesis.

The project is funded for 3.5 years and the student will spend up to half of their time based at Diamond Light Source, which will provide an excellent opportunity to be integrated into the working environment of a major international experimental facility. The project will be supervised by Prof. Lee Brammer at University of Sheffield and by Dr Robin Owen, Dr Mark Warren, Dr Dave Allan and Dr Anna Warren from Diamond Light Source Ltd.

You should be an enthusiastic student who has or expects to receive a 1st class or 2.1 MChem degree or equivalent. For details about your application please contact () or for further details about the project contact Prof Lee Brammer ().

Funding Notes

EPSRC funded project for further eligibility and funding criteria, please follow the below link:
View Website

All applications for this studentship should include a cover letter, CV, qualifications and two academic references, and must be submitted via the online portal below:
View Website

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