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Understanding ion mobility mechanisms in solid electrolytes

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  • Full or part time
    Dr K Johnston
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The rechargeable lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery is now considered the technology of choice for energy storage in a wide array of portable electronic devices. However, its application is currently limited by its use of flammable and corrosive organic liquid electrolytes, which are known to pose a serious safety risk. As a result, in recent years, there has been a considerable push in the development of all-solid-state batteries and, in particular, the development of new solid electrolyte materials.
This project aims to design and synthesise new solid electrolyte materials for use in all-solid-state batteries. Understanding the often complex relationship between structure and functionality is key if the performance of these electrolytes is to be improved. During this project a number of different electrolyte materials, based on the garnet, anti-perovskite and spinel structures, will be prepared and characterised. To gain a comprehensive structural understanding, a number of complementary characterisation techniques will be used, including X-ray and neutron powder diffraction and multinuclear solid-state NMR spectroscopy. The effects of different synthetic methods and compositional doping will also be explored to determine their influence on both the local structure and resulting conductivity. In addition, ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD) simulations will be used alongside experimental methods to gain insight into feasible ion mobility mechanisms within such systems. The information gained will then be used to design new materials exhibiting optimal ion mobility.
The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Renewable Energy Northeast Universities (ReNU) is a collaborative doctoral training programme run by the Universities of Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham. In addition to undertaking an individual scientific research project at one of the three partner Universities, doctoral candidates will engage with added value training opportunities, for example in business, innovation and internationalisation through a 4-year training programme that has been designed to maximise the benefits of a cohort approach to doctoral training. The start date is 1st October 2019.

For this project you must apply through the Durham University’s online postgraduate application system by creating an account. To do this please navigate to and select ‘Apply now’ followed by ‘Apply for postgraduate study.’ When completing your application, please ensure that you note that you are applying for the appropriate ReNU project by completing the application fields as follows:

Course details
• Select ‘yes’ to the question, ‘Have you been in contact with a potential supervisor?’
• Complete the ‘intended supervisor’s name’ with ReNU/Johnston
• Complete Chemistry as the Department
• Select ‘yes’ to the question, ‘Have you applied, or are you going to apply for a scholarship?
• Select ‘other’ from the drop-down list under, ‘Please indicate which scholarship you have applied for’
• Complete ‘Please enter the name of the Scholarship you have applied for or will be applying for’ with ReNU/Johnston
Note that it is not necessary to include a research proposal as part of your application.

The application closing date is Friday 12th July and it is planned that interviews will take place in the two weeks following.

Applicants are normally expected to have one of:
• A minimum of an upper second class honours degree from a 4-year integrated Masters undergraduate course in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science or a related subject.
• A 3-year undergraduate Bachelors in one of the above disciplines plus a Masters degree and/or one year experience in a relevant industry.
We particularly encourage UK applications from those traditionally under-represented in STEM subjects, such as women and mature students.

Funding Notes

The studentship and covers tuition fees and an annual living allowance of £15,009 (at the 2019/20 Home/EU rate) and significant additional funding to cover research costs and local, national and international travel (conferences and exchanges). Please note that EU students must meet UKRI eligibility criteria ( and that studentships will not cover tuition fees for overseas fees status students. Note that up to 4 offers of a PhD place will be made for the 6 ReNU CDT projects advertised by Durham University.

How good is research at Durham University in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 40.80

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