In the last decade since the introduction of “frustrated Lewis pair” chemistry, interest in the ability of Lewis acidic boranes to catalyse a range of reactions involving hydrogen has grown apace. In the past 5 years my group has explored and developed the chemistry and electrochemistry of Lewis acidic borane catalysts for hydrogen activation.[2-4] Armed with our world-leading insights, and inspired by the recent work of Feng et al. we propose to synthesise and study a special class of functionalised Lewis acidic boranes as the first molecular, metal-free, electrocatalysts for hydrogen production. These molecules proffer an inexpensive alternative electrocatalyst to platinum for the production of hydrogen as a clean, renewable energy vector, and provide the successful applicant with a potentially ground-breaking, multidisciplinary, and high impact project with real-world applications.
This PhD project is suitable for applicants with a primary interest in inorganic/organic synthetic chemistry and catalysis, and will involve training in the use of air-sensitive (schlenk/glovebox) synthetic techniques as well as a wide range of spectroscopic, spectrometric, and crystallographic characterisation methods. It also provides a rare opportunity for the successful applicant to augment their synthetic chemistry skills with training in electrochemical techniques – a rare and highly valued combination of skill sets. No prior electrochemical experience is required, only an interest in learning more about this area of chemical science.
Applicants must have, or be about to receive, a minimum of a 2:1 degree classification in the subject area of Chemistry from a recognised institution.
This PhD studentship is funded for 3.5 years by The Leverhulme Trust. Funding is available to EU applicants and comprises home/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of £14,057. Overseas applicants may apply but they will be required to fund the difference between home/EU and overseas fees (in 2015/16 the difference is £12,648 but fees are subject to an annual increase).
i) G. C. Welch, R. R. S. Juan, J. D. Masuda, D. W. Stephan, Science, 2006, 314, 1124
ii) Elliot J. Lawrence, Vasily S. Oganesyan, David L. Hughes, Andrew E. Ashley, Gregory G. Wildgoose, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2014, 136, 6031
iii) Elliot J. Lawrence, Thomas J. Herrington, Andrew E. Ashley, Gregory G. Wildgoose, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2014, 53, 9922
iv) Elliot J. Lawrence, Ewan Clark, Liam D. Curless, James M. Courtney, Robin J. Blagg, Michale J. Ingleson, Gregory G. Wildgoose, Chem. Sci. 2016, DOI: 10.1039/C5SC04564A
v) Feng et al., Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2014, 53, 6237