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Understanding Heteroatom doped graphene electrocatalysts

Project Description

The development of new electrocatalysts is essential for the development of many new energy technologies (such as fuel cells, electrochemical water splitting technologies and air batteries). Heteroatom-doped graphene are emerging as a new class of electrocatalysts which show great promise as earth-abundant replacements for the current state-of-the-art catalysts, which are based on precious metals.
Heteroatom-doped graphene is graphene where some of the carbon atoms have been substituted for atoms of a different element, such as nitrogen, boron or sulphur.
The current bottleneck for development of these catalysts is a poor understanding of their structure, surface chemistry and catalytic mechanisms. Part of this is due to their structural complexity, the conventional doping process (adding in a precursor gas which contains the heteroatoms during growth of the graphene) results in randomly distributed heteroatoms which can sit in several inequivalent chemical environments. This disorder makes it very difficult to understand the relative activities of chemically different dopant atoms and the roles of dopant density and dopant-dopant interactions.
In this project you will explore different methodologies to produce highly-ordered, high quality heteroatom-doped graphene and then characterise the resultant graphene on the atomic scale using a combination of Scanning Tunnelling Microscopy and X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (see references for a similar study on 2D oxide materials). This information will then be correlated to electrochemical testing to gain a new level of mechanistic understanding of these promising catalytic materials.

This position would suit a candidate from either a Chemistry or Physics background with an interest in surface science and/or 2D materials.

Contact for further Information:

Funding Notes

This is a funded PhD studentship. Eligibility is restricted to UK/EU applicants with 3 years residency in the UK.

The expected start date will be September 2019.

Applicants should have or expect a good 2:i honours degree (or an equivalent degree) in Chemistry, Physics or a related discipline

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A.S Walton, J. Fester, M. Bajdich, M. A. Arman, J. Osiecki, J. Knudsen, A. Vojvodic and J. V. Lauritsen (2015). ACS Nano 9(3): 2445-2453.
Fester, J., M. García-Melchor, A. S. Walton, M. Bajdich, Z. Li, L. Lammich, A. Vojvodic and J. V. Lauritsen (2017). Nature Communications 8: 14169.

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