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Synthesis and Characterisation of Amorphous CO2 Reduction Electrocatalysts

School of Engineering and Materials Science

London United Kingdom Computational Chemistry Materials Science Mathematics Physical Chemistry Statistics

About the Project

This post is within the School of Engineering and Materials Science, a large school at QMUL with 70-80 academics and a similar number of postdoctoral research staff. There are around 1,000 undergraduate and taught postgraduate students and 220 PhD students, supported by an administrative and technical staff team of 45 people. The successful candidate will join a team of six PhD students and 2 postdocs working on materials for energy storage and conversion applications, including photoelectrochemistry, oxygen electrocatalysis, redox flow batteries and supercapacitors.

The lab is led by Dr Ana Jorge Sobrido ( and Dr Joe Briscoe ( - both focus on the design and development of the next generation of nanostructured energy materials, using innovative approaches to advance the field of (photo)electrocatalysis. Our groups are members of the interdisciplinary Materials Research Institute that brings together a wide range of expertise from Queen Mary based academics with interest in materials research.

Our PhD students become part of Queen Mary’s Doctoral College, which provides training and development opportunities, advice on funding, and financial research support. Our students also have access to a Researcher Development Programme designed to help recognise and develop the skills and attributes needed to manage research and to prepare and plan for the next stages of their career.

The successful candidate will develop most of their experimental work at the School of Engineering and Materials Science. There, the student will have access to a full range of synthesis facilities and materials characterisation techniques. Electrochemical workstations to develop the performance experiments will be available. The student will also collaborate closely with UCL to conduct x-ray tomography studies and is expected to apply for beamtime to access the synchrotron facilities at Diamond.

The newly formed “Centre for CO2 Conversion” at QMUL is seeking PhD applicants for their fully funded mini Centre for Doctoral Training to start in September 2021. The rising level of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere is the single most important environmental challenge that our society must face. One of the most attractive solutions to reduce climate change emissions is the chemical conversion of CO2 into added-value chemicals (carbon monoxide, formic acid, ethanol, and others). The main challenge lies in the inertness of CO2, making catalysts requisite to decrease the energy required to convert CO2 to hydrocarbons.

AmorCO2RR is an academic-industrial collaboration between eight leading Queen Mary academics with external partners from industry (Johnson Matthey, RISE), governmental organizations (National Physics Laboratory) and other leading academic institutions (UCL, National University of Singapore). The objective of AmorCO2RR is to develop a novel class of amorphous catalysts for the photo-electrochemical CO2 conversion.

The successful PhD candidate will synthesise and characterise new amorphous (photo)electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction, in close collaboration with the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, which will develop machine-learning protocols to design and predict the activity of those catalysts. 

Applications are invited from outstanding candidates with or expecting to receive a first or upper-second class honours degree and a masters degree in Chemistry or Materials Science. A masters degree is desirable. The successful applicant will demonstrate strong understanding of chemical methods, motivated and driven.

The School of Engineering & Materials Science holds a Bronze Athena SWAN Charter for Women in Science and is a registered member of WISE. We are committed to the equality of opportunities and to advancing women’s careers. We have policies to support staff returning from long-term absence, for flexible arrangements for staff with parental responsibilities and for childcare support for the attendance of conferences. As part of the School’s commitment to the Athena SWAN and the WISE principles we strongly encourage applications from women.

This studentship is open to UK residents eligible for 'home' fee status and is funded by Queen Mary University of London. It will cover tuition fees, and provide an annual tax-free maintenance allowance for 3 years at the Research Council rate (£17,285 in 2020/21).

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