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Synthetic engineering of nanoporous graphene and 2D-polymer sheets

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

One atom-thick sheets of graphene and other 2D materials have attracted tremendous interest as membranes for molecular separation and sieving. Several studies in the recent past have explored various sources for creating pores in 2D material, among those the popular techniques are oxygen plasma, thermal annealing, ion and electron beam irradiation, acid etching, and ultraviolet-induced oxidation etching. Despite the emergence of many nanoscale conduits such as nanopores, nanochannels, nanolaminates etc., ultimately narrow pores with atomic-scale dimensions in both the transmembrane and lateral directions have not been studied in detail with precision. In particular, all ‘top-down’ techniques fail to have control on the pore geometry and edge structure in 2D materials.

This project aims to develop bottom-up synthesis of nanoporous graphene sheets and 2D polymers. The controlled introduction of lattice defects/nanopores in the basal plane of the sp2 carbon skeleton through careful design of precursor molecules and optimizing polymerization/ring-fusing reactions represents an alternative strategy to make such nanoporous graphene. Molecular sieving and separation of gasses will be studies using nanoporous membrane devices.

Manchester is hub of 2D materials and we have access to the state-of-the-art research facilities housed in National Graphene Institute and Henry Royce Institute, our group focuses on nanographenes, graphene nanoribbons and confined reactors.

Training and research environment:
Research will be experimental and based in Department of Chemistry, Chemistry Building. The student will be exposed to organic chemistry, synthesis of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and conjugated organic frameworks, structural characterizations (such as NMR, single crystal XRD, atomic force microscopy, etc.). Other characterizations techniques such as Raman, FT-IR, UV-vis, mass spectroscopies. Device fabrication technology for making membrane using porous graphene and study the molecular separation. Some aspect of the project might also involve electrical measurements to study stimuli responsive filtration.

Academic background of candidates
Applicants are expected to hold, or about to obtain, a minimum upper second class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in Chemical Sciences / Material sciences. A minimum of a 2i class UK Masters honours degree (e.g. MChem, MSci, MEng) in Chemical Sciences, Materials, Natural sciences or Chemical Engineering or a first degree with an additional Master’s degree or international equivalent degree is required. For international students, atleast one English language test is a must. IELTS overall score of 6.5 with no less than 5.5 in each sub-test TOEFL iBT overall score of 90 with no less than 22 in each sub-test.

Contact for further Information
Dr Ashok Keerthi

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funded students. For UK/EU tuition fees are £9,000 and International are £26,000 for 2020/21 academic year.


1. Keerthi, A.; Geim, A. K.; Janardanan, A.; Rooney, A. P.; Esfandiar, A.; Hu, S.; Dar, S. A.; Grigorieva, I. V.; Haigh, S. J.; Wang, F. C.; Radha, B., Ballistic molecular transport through two-dimensional channels. Nature 2018, 558 (7710), 420-424.

2. Mouterde, T.; Keerthi, A.; Poggioli, A. R.; Dar, S. A.; Siria, A.; Geim, A. K.; Bocquet, L.; Radha, B., Molecular streaming and its voltage control in angstrom-scale channels. Nature 2019, 567 (7746), 87-90.

3. Slota, M.; Keerthi, A.; Myers, W. K.; Tretyakov, E.; Baumgarten, M.; Ardavan, A.; Sadeghi, H.; Lambert, C. J.; Narita, A.; Müllen, K.; Bogani, L., Magnetic edge states and coherent manipulation of graphene nanoribbons. Nature 2018, 557 (7707), 691-695.

4. Xu, K.; Urgel, J. I.; Eimre, K.; Di Giovannantonio, M.; Keerthi, A.; Komber, H.; Wang, S.; Narita, A.; Berger, R.; Ruffieux, P.; Pignedoli, C. A.; Liu, J.; Müllen, K.; Fasel, R.; Feng, X., On-Surface Synthesis of a Nonplanar Porous Nanographene. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141 (19), 7726-7730.

5. Keerthi, A.; Radha, B.; Rizzo, D.; Lu, H.; Diez Cabanes, V.; Hou, I. C.-Y.; Beljonne, D.; Cornil, J.; Casiraghi, C.; Baumgarten, M.; Müllen, K.; Narita, A., Edge Functionalization of Structurally Defined Graphene Nanoribbons for Modulating the Self-Assembled Structures. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139 (46), 16454-16457.

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