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Towards Earth-Abundant Electrolyser Components for Green Hydrogen

Department of Chemistry

About the Project

This position will remain open until filled and so early applications are encouraged.

A Ph.D. Studentship is available in the research groups of Prof Matt Rosseinsky in the Materials Innovation Factory (MIF) and Prof Alex Cowan in the Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy (SIRE), Department of Chemistry at the University of Liverpool. The project will develop new electrocatalytic materials to advance sustainable and cost-effective technologies for the electrolytic generation of hydrogen. Oxides of very scarce noble metals are most promising for water splitting. In collaboration with Johnson Matthey PLC, this project aims to reduce the loading of noble metals on electrodes of alkaline electrolysers, to replace them further with earth-abundant elements. This PhD project is an exciting opportunity for the experimental synthesis (including automatic synthesis) and detailed characterisation and testing of new catalytic materials. The project will focus on the discovery of new bonding types and structures in electrocatalysts and understanding of the relationships between the structural feature, underlying physical-chemical mechanisms and electrochemical properties.

The successful candidate will work closely with a strong team of computational and experimental material chemists, and electrochemists to accelerate the discovery of new materials. There are extensive opportunities to use synchrotron X-ray and neutron scattering facilities, and benefits of national/international research collaboration environment.

Applications are welcomed from students with a 2:1 or higher master’s degree or equivalent in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science or Electrochemistry, particularly those with some of the skills directly relevant to the project outlined above. Experience in electrochemistry, electrocatalysis, scattering methods and/or electron microscopy is an advantage. Outstanding candidates will strong motivation to conduct interdisciplinary research are invited to submit their applications via the University of Liverpool online portal.

Further Information:

Prof Matt Rosseinsky:

Prof Alex Cowan:

Materials Innovation Factory (MIF):

Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy (SIRE):

The inorganic materials chemistry group, led by Professor Rosseinsky at the University of Liverpool, focusses its research on the discovery of new inorganic and hybrid organic-inorganic solid state compounds. The research involves developing new capability for materials discovery, discovering and exploring the chemistry of new classes of material, and developing materials for particular applications.

We are developing a new approach to materials discovery that integrates computational chemistry and increasingly computer science (for example, machine learning methods) into the experimental synthesis programme. This has led to the synthesis of a range of novel materials with a variety of functional properties. These successes arise from a close working relationship between computational and experimental researchers within the group, which is part of the Leverhulme Centre for Functional Materials Design (, where researchers with physical science and computer science backgrounds collaborate closely.

The Cowan group at the University of Liverpool develops and studies materials for the sustainable production of fuels. A particular area of research is electrocatalytic and photoelectrochemical materials for water splitting. As part of the project the student will have the opportunity to work with teams with expertise in both electrocatalyst characterisation and in studying the mechanisms of operation of catalysis using advanced spectroscopic techniques.

The research will be performed in both the newly opened Materials Innovation Factory (MIF) and the Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy (SIRE). The Materials Innovation Factory provides 2750 m2 of top-quality research space on the top floor of the building, and access to the extensive shared robotic synthesis and characterisation facilities on the ground floor.

For any enquiries please contact:

Prof Matt Rosseinsky ()

Prof Alexander Cowan ()

Dr. Ruiyong Chen ()

To apply for this opportunity please visit:

Funding Notes

The award will cover fees at the Home/EU rate and an annual stipend at the EPSRC-DTP rate and £1,000 per annum to be used at the supervisor's discretion for training/conferences/consumables for 3.5 years.


J.F. Shin, M.J. Rosseinsky et al., Self-assembled dynamic perovskite composite cathodes for intermediate temperature solid oxide fuel cells, Nature Energy, 2017, 2, 16214
F.D. Romero, M.J. Rosseinsky, et al., Redox-controlled potassium intercalation into two polyaromatic hydrocarbon solids, Nature Chemistry, 2017, 9, 644
W. Tong, A.J. Cowan, et al., Electrolysis of low-grade and saline surface water, Nature Energy, 2020, 5, 367
G. Neri, A.J. Cowan, et al., Detection of catalytic intermediates at an electrode surface during carbon dioxide reduction by an earth-abundant catalyst, Nature Catalysis, 2018, 1, 952

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