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Synthesis of new electrolytes for next generation ceramic fuel cells

   Department of Chemistry

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  Prof A McLaughlin, Dr Eve Wildman  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Ensuring reliable, clean energy sources is one of the greatest challenges facing society today. Ceramic fuel cells have been developed to convert chemical energy into electrical energy, offering the potential to provide a clean alternative to fossil fuels and combat climate change. Applications include auxiliary power units in cars and combined heat and power in homes/businesses. However, they operate only at very high temperatures, resulting in unreliability and a short lifetime. New ionic conductors that act as the electrolyte of the fuel cell and operate below 600°C are needed.

We have been studying a promising new family of oxide ion and proton conductors based on the hexagonal perovskite crystal structure (references 1-3). In this project you will synthesise and investigate the potential of further novel hexagonal perovskites as electrolytes in ceramic fuel cells.

The materials will be synthesised via conventional solid-state chemistry techniques and analysed by powder X-ray and neutron diffraction, AC impedance, scanning electron microscopy and thermogravimetric analysis. There is a large solid state chemistry group at the University of Aberdeen who will give excellent training and support for this project.

There will also be the opportunity to attend conferences and training courses.

Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit. The successful candidate should have, or expect to obtain, a UK Honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in chemistry or materials science. Knowledge of solid-state synthesis and X-ray diffraction would be highly desirable, but not essential.

Formal applications can be completed online:

• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry

• State name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor

• State ‘Self-funded’ as Intended Source of Funding

• State the exact project title on the application form

When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:

• All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)

• Detailed CV, Personal Statement/Motivation Letter and Intended source of funding

Informal inquiries can be made to Professor A McLaughlin ([Email Address Removed]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ([Email Address Removed])

Funding Notes

This PhD project has no funding attached and is therefore available to students (UK/International) who are able to seek their own funding or sponsorship. There are Additional Research Costs totalling £1,000 attached to this project. These are in addition to tuition fees and living expenses. Supervisors will not be able to respond to requests to source funding. Details of the cost of study can be found by visiting


1. S. Fop, J. M. S. Skakle, A. C. Mclaughlin, P. Connor, J. T. S Irvine and E. J. Wildman, J. Amer. Chem. Soc. 138, 16764 (2016).
2. S. Fop, K. S. McCombie, E. J. Wildman, J. M. S. Skakle, J. T. S. Irvine, P. A. Connor, C. Savaniu, C. Ritter and A. C. Mclaughlin, High, Nature Materials 19, 752 (2020).
3. S. Fop, K. S. McCombie, R. I. Smith and A. C. Mclaughlin, Chem. Mater. 32 4724 (2020).
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