Unleashing the potential of chalcogen bonding catalysis

   Department of Chemistry

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  Dr Mark Greenhalgh  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Project Description: Chalcogen bonding is a relatively unknown, underexploited and poorly understood non-covalent interaction, which has attracted a lot of interest recently. Significantly, there are differences in the types of molecule that engage in chalcogen bonding, relative to conventional non-covalent interactions such as hydrogen bonding, thus providing great potential for unusual selectivity and reactivity to be discovered. To date, preliminary examples of using chalcogen bonding in catalysis have been reported, however the benefit of using these methods over established approaches has yet to be elucidated.

The aim of this PhD is to reveal the chemoselectivity profile of chalcogen bonding catalysis, relative to conventional methods of catalysis. This PhD will therefore establish, for the first time, the benefits of chalcogen bonding catalysis and inform how it can be exploited in the future. A key aspect of this work will be to develop a deep fundamental understanding about how these new catalysts operate.

The project will involve both the design of new catalysts and their application in a range of synthetic transformations, that may be attractive to those working in the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries. This work will be supported by detailed mechanistic (kinetic) studies, with opportunities available to engage with computational collaborators to support our experimental results.

Research group website: https://cha06mg.wixsite.com/greenhalghgroup

Candidate: This project will suit a candidate who has an interest in synthesis and catalysis, is motivated, enthusiastic and, most importantly, is interested in learning new skills. The PhD programme will allow the candidate to develop further skills in organic, main-group and organometallic synthesis, reaction design and optimisation, mechanistic and kinetic investigations, X-ray crystallography and analytic techniques (NMR, HPLC, IR, mass spec, ITC, etc.). The development of the PhD candidate will also be supported throughout the programme with regular meetings, problem sessions and opportunities to develop transferable and soft skills.

How to Apply: Please contact Dr Mark Greenhalgh for further information on the project, eligibility and application process ([Email Address Removed]). Please include with your email a 1–2 page CV and your current/predicted grades. Applicants are encouraged to get in touch early as this project may be allocated before the application window closes if a suitable candidate is identified.

Funding Notes: Funding is available for anyone that qualifies for ‘Home fee status’. This will cover tuition fees and provide a stipend at the UKRI Doctoral Stipend rate for a period of 3.5 years. Alternative funding arrangements may be possible for candidates who do not qualify for home fee status – please get in contact for more details.

Chemistry (6)

Funding Notes

Please contact Dr Greenhalgh directly for further details and clarification on eligibility.


1. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2019, 58, 1880–1891
2. Eur. J. Org. Chem. 2020, 5473–5487
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