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Solar hydrogen generation over rutile/anatase TiO2

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  • Full or part time
    Prof Thornton
  • Application Deadline
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Project Description

A 4 year Eng Doc studentship is available in the Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecular Modelling and Materials Science, UCL (www.m3s.ucl.ac.uk). The studentship will commence in September 2016.

Titania surfaces have been widely explored as photocatalytic and photovoltaic materials for many years. This is one means of harnessing solar energy. Despite the large effort that has explored empirical optimisation, little progress has been made to increase the efficiency of the devices. As for the possibility of rational design, an atomistic understanding of the key processes that limit performance is still lacking. Of particular interest is the relative activity of the rutile and anatase polymorphs of TiO2. The anatase phase is thought to be the more active, and various ideas have been put forward to explain this phenomenon such as the indirect band gap of anatase. Nevertheless, the most effective powder samples for photocatalysis are a mixture of anatase and rutile. This project, which involves the major petrochemical company SABIC, will explore the origin of this synergy.

Nanoscale interfaces between rutile and anatase will be prepared using a method recently devised in a UCL/SABIC collaboration. This involves 3 keV e-beam disruption of an anatase TiO2(101) surface followed by an STM tip pulse to re-order the surface as rutile TiO2(110). Other methods of forming an interface will also be explored. The interface will be studied by scanning tunneling microscopy for comparision with calculations by a collaborating theory group. Comparative photochemical reactions will be studied on anatase, rutile and interfaces, for instance water dissociation. The methods to be used to investigate the enhance photoatalytic activity are high-resolution electron energy loss spectroscopy (HREELS), temperature programmed desorption (TPD), and XPS in addition to STM.

The student will spend up to two months a year at SABIC engaged in project experiments employing STM, XPS and TPD.

Funding Notes

Due to funding restrictions, this studentship is only open to applicants from the UK and EU, who have been resident in the UK for at least 3 years preceding their start on the programme or have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

The candidates should have, or expect to gain, a good honours degree (first or upper second) in a relevant subject, e.g. physics, chemistry, or materials science.

The deadline for applications is 15th July, but the position will be filled as soon as an appropriate candidate is found.

How good is research at University College London in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 62.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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